Today we’re tackling Celebration Cakes. Those festive, elegant cakes that show up at birthdays, weddings, and “Hey, you quit your terrible job!” celebrations. Basically, if there’s a reason to party, there’s a reason to eat party cake.
I’ll be the first to admit that cake decorating is not my strong suit. I don’t have the patience nor the steady hand required for intricate cake decorations. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t make a cake worthy of a special anniversary or birthday, and you can too!
This post is jam packed with helpful tools and tricks for the not-so-confident cake decorator. Plus, I’ve included 20 awesome, approachable celebration cake recipes you can tackle today!
Easy Cake Decorating Tips for Celebration Cakes
You don’t have to be a wizard with a piping bag to make a beautiful cake. Here are some of my favorite easy cake decorating ideas:
- Pile a cake with fresh fruits, either whole or in slices, for a simple but beautiful decoration. Sliced fruits layered in concentric rings on a layer cake looks stunning and doesn’t require any special skills.
- I love the rustic elegance of fresh flowers on cakes. Frosting and Fettuccine has an excellent guide on how to safely decorate cakes with fresh flowers. You can see an example of this technique on this sour cream banana bread wedding cake.
- Try a bundt cake! Bundt cakes are naturally gorgeous and require no special techniques or equipment. The only decoration needed is a simple, glistening glaze or sprinkle of powdered sugar. You can buy bundt pans in a range of fun and beautiful patterns, including swirls, fleur de lis, hearts, and blossoms.
- Candies and sprinkles are perfect for party cakes and a great way to add pops of color and create fun designs easily. The rainbow cake featured below is an excellent example of this. Want to put a number on your cake? Place a stencil over the top, then fill it in with colorful sprinkles. It’s easy, fun, and cute!
- Naked cakes are having a moment right now, which is great news for all of us non-decorators. Here’s a tutorial for a simple DIY naked cake decoration.
- If you do want to try your hand at some piping, Beyond Frosting has a comprehensive tutorial on several different kinds of buttercream flowers.
- For more inspiration, check out my Cakes and Cupcakes Pinterest Board!
How to Store Special Occasion Cakes
I find it helpful to prepare layer cakes a day or two in advance, so I can spend party day celebrating, not stressing.
- Individual layers of cake can be popped out of their pans, cooled, and then wrapped in saran wrap. The layers will keep at room temperature for a day, in the fridge for 3-4 days, or frozen for up to 1 month.
- Most frosted cakes can be stored at room temperature for 1-2 days or in the fridge for 3-4 days (though a fresher cake is always better!). The exception to this rule is cakes with fresh whipped cream frosting or fresh fruits, which should always be refrigerated. To refrigerate a frosted cake, place it in the fridge for 20-30 minutes to allow the frosting to harden slightly, then loosely tent with saran wrap.
- Once a cake is sliced, store it in the fridge. To keep it moist, I recommend either covering the exposed ends with additional frosting, or pressing saran wrap against them.
My Favorite Cake Baking Tools and Tips
- To ensure your cakes don’t stick to the pans, cut parchment paper circles in the size of your pan. Grease the sides and bottom of the pan, cover the bottom with parchment paper, then grease on top of the parchment paper and flour everything. You can use regular parchment paper or buy parchment paper circles in the size you need.
- Investing in a cake slicer can be really helpful for leveling out cakes that dome and ensuring all your layers are the same height. Otherwise, a serrated bread knife is your best bet.
- I prefer using light colored aluminum cake pans. If I had to pick just one size, I’d go with 8 inch. It’s a great standard cake size that will feed about 12 people. Here are my current favorite round baking pans.
- My indispensable decorating tools include an offset spatula, large piping bags, a cake icer tip, and an assortment of other decorating tips.
- My favorite food coloring is Wilton’s Gel Colors. They are SO vibrant and don’t have a strange taste.
Whether you’re attempting an intricately designed layer cake or a classically elegant bundt cake, I want you to know you CAN create a beautiful and special Celebration Cake for your next party. Take a deep breath and dive in to one of the recipes below!