How to Decorate Cake Sides

Decorating the sides of a cake is an essential aspect of creating a visually stunning and professional-looking confection. Whether you’re a baking enthusiast or a seasoned pastry chef, knowing how to decorate cake sides can elevate the overall presentation and make your creations truly stand out. The intricate designs, textures, and patterns on the sides of a cake can add depth and visual interest, making it a feast for both the eyes and the taste buds.

When it comes to decorating cake sides, the possibilities are endless, from delicate piping work to whimsical fondant designs. The impact of beautifully adorned cake sides goes beyond just aesthetics – it can also enhance the flavor experience by adding layers of different textures and flavors. In this article, we will explore essential tools and materials needed for this task, as well as step-by-step techniques for achieving professional-looking decorated cake sides.

Whether you’re preparing for a special occasion or simply want to hone your baking skills, mastering the art of decorating cake sides is sure to be a game-changer in your culinary repertoire. So let’s dive in and unlock the secrets to creating stunning and delectable works of edible art.

Essential Tools and Materials

Decorating the sides of a cake requires essential tools and materials to achieve professional-looking results. Whether you’re using buttercream, royal icing, or fondant, having the right equipment will make the process much easier and more enjoyable.

Piping Bags and Tips

Piping bags and tips are essential for creating intricate designs and patterns on the sides of a cake. There are various types of piping tips available, each producing different shapes and textures. It’s important to have a variety of tips on hand to experiment with different designs.


Fondant is a versatile medium for decorating cake sides. It can be rolled out into thin sheets and applied to the cake for a smooth, polished look. Fondant also allows for intricate designs to be cut out and placed on the sides of the cake for a more visually appealing finish.

Buttercream or Royal Icing

Both buttercream and royal icing can be used to create beautiful textures and patterns on cake sides. Buttercream is a popular choice for its smooth, creamy texture, while royal icing hardens to create a more stable design. Having these mediums prepared in different colors will allow for endless creative possibilities when decorating the sides of your cake.

Edible Decorations

In addition to piping bags and fondant, edible decorations such as sprinkles, edible flowers, or even chocolate shavings can add an extra pop of color and dimension to your cake design. These decorations can be easily applied to the icing or fondant for added visual interest.

Having these essential tools and materials on hand will set you up for success when it comes to decorating the sides of your cakes. Experimenting with different techniques and mediums will allow you to unleash your creativity and produce stunning results that will impress anyone who sees or tastes your beautifully decorated cakes.

Preparing the Cake

When it comes to decorating a cake, proper preparation is key to achieving professional-looking results. Before you start working on the decorative elements of your cake, it’s important to ensure that the cake itself is properly prepared and ready for decorating.

How to Properly Cool and Level the Cake Layers

After baking your cake layers, it’s crucial to allow them to cool completely before attempting any decoration. This will prevent the frosting or icing from melting and sliding off the cake. Once cooled, use a serrated knife or cake leveler to carefully trim the tops of the cakes to create an even surface for stacking and decorating.

Crumb Coating the Cake

Before applying any decorative elements to the sides of the cake, it’s beneficial to crumb coat the cake first. A crumb coat is a thin layer of frosting or icing that seals in any loose crumbs on the surface of the cake. This creates a smooth base for decorating and prevents crumbs from mixing into the final layer of frosting or fondant.

By taking these steps to properly prepare your cake layers, you set yourself up for success when it comes time to decorate the sides of your cake. With a well-cooled, leveled, and crumb-coated cake, you can focus on creating beautiful and visually appealing decorations that will enhance your overall presentation.

Preparing the Decorating Medium

When it comes to decorating the sides of a cake, having the right medium is essential. Whether you choose to work with buttercream, royal icing, or fondant, proper preparation and coloring are key. Here are some essential tips for preparing the decorating medium:

  • How to properly prepare and color buttercream: Start by making a batch of your favorite buttercream recipe and ensure it is smooth and at the desired consistency for spreading or piping. When it comes to coloring the buttercream, gel food coloring works best as it won’t alter the consistency of the frosting.
  • Tips for working with fondant for decorating: If you opt for fondant as your decorating medium, knead it well before rolling it out to ensure a smooth and pliable texture. Use powdered sugar or cornstarch to prevent sticking when rolling out the fondant. You can also add food coloring to achieve the desired hue for your cake design.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your chosen decorating medium is prepared and colored to perfection, setting the stage for beautiful and creative cake side decorations.

Techniques for Decorating Cake Sides

Decorating the sides of a cake is an essential aspect of creating a visually appealing and professional-looking dessert. Utilizing various techniques can elevate the overall presentation of the cake, making it a stunning centerpiece for any occasion. Here are some techniques for decorating cake sides:

  • Using a piping bag to create intricate designs: Piping bags and tips are essential tools for adding decorative elements to the sides of a cake. By practicing different piping techniques such as rosettes, swirls, or lattice patterns, you can create beautiful and eye-catching designs.
  • Applying fondant to the sides of the cake: Fondant is a versatile medium that can be rolled out and applied to the sides of a cake to create a smooth and flawless finish. With the right technique, fondant can be used to add personalized designs or colorful accents to the cake.
  • Using different textures and patterns for added visual interest: Experimenting with different textures and patterns can add depth and dimension to the decorated cake sides. Consider using stencils, lace molds, or embossing tools to create unique effects on the frosting or fondant.

Mastering these techniques will allow you to transform a simple frosted cake into a work of art, showcasing your creativity and attention to detail. Whether you’re decorating a cake for a special celebration or simply want to hone your baking skills, exploring these methods for decorating cake sides will undoubtedly enhance your dessert presentation.

Remember that practice makes perfect when it comes to cake decorating, so don’t hesitate to experiment with different techniques and styles until you find what works best for you. The key is to have fun with the process and let your creativity shine through in every beautifully decorated creation.

Troubleshooting and Tips

When decorating cake sides, there are some common issues that may arise, but with the right tips and techniques, you can easily fix them. One issue that decorators often encounter is air bubbles in the fondant or buttercream. To prevent this, make sure to roll out the fondant evenly and smooth it onto the cake gently. For buttercream, try using a smoothing tool to remove any air pockets.

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Another challenge when decorating cake sides is achieving a smooth and professional finish. One helpful tip is to chill the crumb-coated cake before applying the final layer of frosting. This will help create a stable surface for decorating. Additionally, using a bench scraper or offset spatula can help you achieve clean and straight edges on your cake.

It’s also important to ensure that your piping bags are properly filled and secured to avoid any mess or inconsistencies in your designs. Make sure to twist the open end of the piping bag tightly before starting to pipe your decorations onto the cake.

Finally, remember that practice makes perfect when it comes to decorating cake sides. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different techniques and designs until you find what works best for you. And most importantly, have fun with it. Enjoy the creative process of making your cakes look as beautiful as they taste.

Troubleshooting TipRecommendation
Air bubbles in fondant or buttercreamRoll out fondant evenly; Smooth fondant gently onto cake; Use smoothing tool for air pockets in buttercream
Achieving a smooth finishChill crumb-coated cake before final frosting; Use bench scraper or offset spatula for clean edges
Properly filling piping bagsTwist open end tightly before piping decorations onto cake

Adding Edible Decorations

When it comes to adding edible decorations to the sides of a cake, there are countless creative possibilities that can take your cake decorating skills to the next level. Edible decorations not only add visual appeal but also provide an opportunity to enhance the flavor and texture of the cake.

One popular way to incorporate edible decorations is by using fresh fruit. Berries, sliced citrus fruits, and even small edible flowers can be strategically placed on the sides of a frosted cake for a beautiful and natural look. Not only do these additions provide a burst of color, but they also offer a delicious contrast to the sweetness of the cake and frosting.

Another fun option for adding edible decorations is by incorporating flavored syrups or sauces into the design. Drizzling a raspberry syrup over the sides of a vanilla cake or adding caramel sauce in an abstract pattern can create stunning visual interest while elevating the overall flavor profile of the dessert.

In addition to fresh fruit and syrups, other edible decorations such as chocolate shavings, sprinkles, and even small candies can be used to adorn the sides of a cake. These elements not only add texture but also contribute to a whimsical or elegant aesthetic depending on the chosen decor. When using these items, it’s important to consider the color scheme and theme of your cake to ensure that everything complements each other harmoniously.

Edible DecorationDescription
Fresh FruitBerries, sliced citrus fruits, edible flowers
Flavored Syrups or SaucesRaspberry syrup, caramel sauce
Chocolate Shavings/Sprinkles/CandiesAdd textural and visual interest

Final Touches and Presentation

After putting in the time and effort to decorate the sides of your cake, it’s important to add the final touches to complete the overall look. Adding a border around the top and bottom edges of the cake can give it a polished and professional appearance.

This can be done using a piping bag with a decorative tip or by applying a thin strip of fondant around the edges. The border can complement the design on the sides of the cake and tie everything together for a cohesive look.

In addition to adding borders, consider incorporating other decorative elements to enhance the presentation of the cake. For example, fresh flowers, fruit slices, or edible metallic accents can be strategically placed on top of the cake to create visual interest. Just be sure that any non-edible decorations are not placed directly onto areas that will come into contact with food when serving.

When presenting your decorated cake, consider placing it on a decorative cake stand or platter that complements the overall theme or colors of the design. This will elevate the cake and draw attention to its beautifully decorated sides. Additionally, take into account factors such as lighting and background when setting up your display to showcase your masterpiece in its best light.


In conclusion, decorating the sides of a cake is just as important as decorating the top. It adds a layer of visual interest and aesthetic appeal that can elevate the overall presentation of the cake. Whether using buttercream, royal icing, or fondant, there are various techniques and tools available to achieve beautifully decorated cake sides.

By properly preparing the cake layers and choosing the right decorating medium, individuals can create intricate designs, patterns, and textures on the sides of their cakes. Additionally, incorporating edible decorations such as sprinkles or edible flowers can further enhance the design and add a unique touch to the finished product.

As readers experiment with decorating their cake sides, it’s important for them to remember that practice makes perfect. Common issues may arise during the decorating process, but with patience and creativity, these challenges can be overcome.

Ultimately, by adding finishing touches and presenting their cakes thoughtfully, individuals can showcase their skill and creativity in cake decoration for all to enjoy. So go ahead – let your imagination run wild and have fun experimenting with different techniques to decorate your cake sides.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Sprinkle the Sides of a Cake?

Sprinkling the sides of a cake can add a decorative touch to the finished product. To do this, you can hold the cake over a baking sheet and gently press handfuls of sprinkles onto the sides, allowing any excess to fall onto the sheet.

Alternatively, you can use a spoon or your fingers to sprinkle the decorations onto the sides of the cake.

How Do You Make a Plain Cake Look Fancy?

Making a plain cake look fancy can be achieved through various methods. One simple way is to dust the top of the cake with powdered sugar or cocoa powder using a fine sieve to create an elegant finish. Additionally, you can add fresh fruit, edible flowers, or chocolate shavings on top of the cake for a sophisticated touch.

How Do You Pipe Flowers on the Side of a Cake?

Piping flowers on the side of a cake requires some skill and patience, but it can create a beautiful and impressive design. First, make sure you have different colored frosting and piping tips suitable for creating small flower shapes.

Start by piping small dots in a circular pattern on the side of the cake, then use another color to pipe small petals around each dot in layers to form flowers. With practice and steady hands, you can create an intricate floral design on your cake.

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