Last weekend we celebrated my sweet aunt’s birthday! My cousins and uncle put together a surprise party for her, and seeing her reaction was so much fun and really special. They all did a great job coordinating it and keeping it a secret. I was able to contribute, in just a small way, by making a cake for the party. I wanted to share the details and instructions for how to decorate a watercolor cake.
The color scheme for the party was various shades of light blue, and metallics. When I saw Tessa’s tutorial for watercolor cake icing I knew I had to attempt that look! Her cake is much prettier than mine, but that just means I need to bake more for practice. 🙂 Her blog has step-by-step pictures and a tutorial for this icing method.
I made a vanilla birthday cake from a cookbook that my aunt actually gave me a few years ago! Now I was able to use it to celebrate her. Julie Richardson put together this book called Vintage Cakes, and I have loved the recipes I’ve tried from it. It’s my go-to for when I don’t have an old family recipe for a cake.
I used my vanilla cream cheese buttercream, but I added an extra stick of butter to make it a little more sturdy.
The cake looks yellow here, because I was taking these photos late at night, under fluorescent light.
Watercolor Icing Decorating Instructions
- Make a 3-layer vanilla cake. Cool the layers, then use a serrated knife to even off the top of the cakes. You just want them to be level.
- Wrap the layers tightly in saran wrap. Place the wrapped cakes, individually, in gallon freezer bags. Freeze for at least 1 hour.
- Make the buttercream according to the recipe here, but use 3 sticks of butter instead of 2. Remove the cakes from the freezer and let them sit on the counter.
- Keep half of the buttercream white.
- Divide the other half of the buttercream into 3 bowls, putting some extra in one of the bowls. That extra icing will be used to pipe the design around the border.
- Tint the buttercream with food coloring. I use gel color, because it is a much more concentrated color, and is meant for decorating cakes.
- For colors, just make sure that the colors will not blend to make brown. I did a variation of blues, but it would have also been pretty with the addition of blush, pink, or green.
- Use the white buttercream to do a “crumb coat” on the cake. (Tutorial here). Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Remove the cake from the refrigerator, and put the full coat of white buttercream on the cake. Use an icing smoother to finish off the buttercream application. This kit has all of the tools needed to frost a layer cake.
- Use a small icing spatula to put on bits of the colored icing all around the sides of the cake. Try not to do this in a pattern. You want more of a freehand look, and also make sure to leave some white space. (See the picture in the collage).
- Use the flat side of the icing smoother to go around the cake. As you rotate the smoother around the cake (if you have a turntable, just turn that), make sure the colored icing is becoming flat and smooth. The colors will start to bleed together a bit like watercolor.
- Do not overdo it, because all of the colors will run together too much.
- After finishing the sides, do the same thing on the top of the cake.
- If desired, use some of the leftover colored icing to pipe a design around the top and bottom borders of the cake.
- Keep the cake refrigerated (because of the cream cheese in the buttercream) until an hour or two before serving.
If you try this icing method, would you please let me know? I would love to see a picture if you post on instagram! You can use #sevenlayercharlotte and I’ll see them. 🙂