Thursday, February 17, 2011

How to Decorate a Cake! A tutorial from La Vida Dulce Cake! {with homemade buttercream icing & homemade fondant recipes!}

This may be the sweetest day yet in the history of Sparkle & Hay... why you ask?  Because today is completely dedicated to the prettiest & sparkliest of cakes and cupcakes!!!  I was oh-so-lucky to learn how to properly decorate these delightful treats by a master of the sugar arts - Lydia of La Vida Dulce Cake as a part of the S&H inspiration shoot with Suzanna March Photography!

Today I am beyond excited to share with you the how-to create this...

& this

 from this!!!

*Tip - this DIY is still very doable, but does require some extra tools of the trade (& possibly an instructor, like Lydia - who by the way Connecticut is available for parties too!)


As you can see the first secret has been revealed - all of the cakes in our shoot came from a box!  So the first step to this DIY is to pick your favorite flavor and back as directed.

Next up...  homemade frosting!

Lydia was so sweet as to make her homemade buttercream frosting fresh right in front of us and ever sweeter to share it with all of you here!!!

La Vida Dulce Buttercream Frosting

2 sticks salted sweet cream butter
4 tbsps milk
32 ounces powdered sugar (1 bag)
2 tsps vanilla extract

1. Let the butter reach room temperature.  Beat together the butter, milk and vanilla extract.
2. Add the powdered sugar to the mixture one cup at a time, blending well in between each cup.
3. Decorate!

{Download the Buttercream recipe here & also as a bonus download her homemade fondant recipe here!}

Prepping the cake.  Using some homemade icing, Lydia gives a generous smear to the base of the cakestand (to hold the cake on steady) she then gives another HEALTHY layer of frosting between layers of the cake and a heavy frosting on the outer layer.  Something I learned from Lydia is that it is always best to over frost, then remove excess frosting so that there is a thin layer.

If you are looking to create a smooth buttercream cake, you let the first layer dry (a good hour) then repeat for another layer or two to your desired thickness/look. For this shoot however, Lydia had a different design in mind - a pretty ruffled ribbon look.  ::swoon::

& on to the decorating... filling bags with icing ready for piping on design - Lydia uses the Wilton decorating bags and tips (found at JoAnn - about $20 for a full kit)

and then handed the icing bag over to me for a try!  basically you are making a little "s" zigzag up the side of the cake.

{sidenote: holy roots - I need a refresh on the highlights - sorry all!}

 You decorate the entire perimeter of the cake first, then move on to the top.  Dividing it into pie slices, filling in each triangle.  

and top with the topper of your choice!  We used a pompom of tissue flowers from Treasured Editions {who is offering 20% off to S & H + SMP readers now through March 15th with the coupon code SPARKLEANDHAY11}

similarly, the technique for the petal cupcakes is to make a half of a heart, keeping the tip tilted up. {the added edible shimmer was brushed on after all icing was complete)

and with a quick drop of dye into the frosting and the change of a tip, a simple squeeze & lift technique works to create little stars to make it look like the cupcakes are kissed with the frosting.

is that not the prettiest little thing? 
{and Lydia made the doily cupcake wraps based on this template - so easily to do!}

While it may not be as easy as the other DIY's from our shoot, I hope that this has showed that you can decorate a pretty cake yourself!  Like some of the other DIY's, this is not a last minute project as decorating the big cake took (me) nearly 2 hours, so plan accordingly! {it will stay good without refrigeration for 2 - 4 days} Or if you're not up for attempting it 100% yourself give Lydia a call and she'll make one for you!

Please pop on over to the new La Vida Dulce Cake facebook page where you can ask Lydia any questions for additional tips or techniques, see some more of her work, and contact her about making you a custom cake for your wedding, shower, or party! 


  1. That looks like so much fun! I need to try my hand at baking and impress my family. Butter cream is the best :)

  2. I seriously always wondered how they did that! Love the tissue pom, love the love birds, love the doily cupcake wrapper! Okay, so there's nothing I don't love, basically. :)

  3. LOVE this tutorial, those cupcakes are v impressive. and they look sooo tasty! xoxo jcd

  4. Yay! Thank you for showing how the elusive ruffle cake is made!

  5. Love it! I also love how you jumped right in and did it! It looks awesome, almost too good to eat!!

  6. the ruffle technique looks pretty easy! great tutorial!

  7. This is a great tutorial! I always wondered how to do that. Gives me a reason to make a cake and experiment...just to see if it works...LOL...and eat it. No cake is too pretty for me to eat!

  8. This is fantastical! What a great tutorial!!!!!

  9. Amazing! I aspire to make a cake/cupcakes like this -- this tutorial and practice on a steady hand are a great start!

  10. Love this! Make me feel like I could actually do it!

  11. How amazing! This tutorial is terrific! I think my favorite tip was that she put buttercream down on the cake plate first-I never would have guessed!

  12. Beautiful work! I really need to learn not to be afraid of pastry bags when it comes to icing. I have an unreasonable aversion to them, but you can't beat the lovely job they do! :)

  13. I loveee this article!! The cake and cup cake came out AMAZING- im def going to try to frost like this. Thanks for the tutorial...

  14. Erin!!!! I love this so much. A ruffle cake tutorial is possibly the best possible thing someone could blog about. And you're pretty much a pro at it, on your first try. All of this = amazeballs.

  15. Erin this is so wonderful!!! Love the make it look so easy ;-))) I will definitely be giving this a try when I make my next batch of cupcakes...gotta start small...hehe!! Thank you so much for sharing this with us. The cake looks AMAZING!


  16. Oh my goodness, I LOVE this tutorial. I want to fill my kitchen with cakes right now! Thanks for posting this!

  17. AMAZING!!! I just love the cupcake and cake, so adorable!

  18. WOW...If only I had the skills to recreate that gorgeous cake!

  19. What size tips did you use?

  20. Absolutely GORGEOUS!! I must make this! lol

  21. Wow, I'm seriously impressed!! I hope you got to do a taste test too??

  22. BEAUTIFUL!!!!! Can't wait to make them for my rehearsal dinner :)

  23. Hello from Australia!
    This is brilliant thank you so much for sharing!
    May I please ask what number tips you used for you ruffle cake and for your petal cupcake? Pretty please?
    I love this!