This easy tutorial shows you how to hand paint beautiful floral art onto a cake using buttercream frosting, palette knives, and paint brushes! This simple cake decorating technique is perfect for your next birthday party or wedding, bridal, or baby shower!
How to Paint a Cake with Buttercream
Painted cakes are so hot right now! It’s actually a lot easier than it seems and really easy to do once you get the hang of it. It’s a great way to turn any cake into a pretty floral dessert that looks much more difficult than it is.
Type of frosting for Painting a cake
For painting a cake with buttercream frosting, use any type of light colored buttercream. For this cake I used Swiss American Buttercream frosting but you can also use American Buttercream. To mix the colors, I used a cookie sheet flipped upside down. Then I put about ½ -¾ cup frosting for each color and then a few drops of food coloring and mixed with a cake spatula. I like this because it was easy to move around and you can easily use the palette knife to mix and scrape the frosting. But you can also use a plate or bowl to mix your colors.
Practice Painting with Buttercream
A big tip for making your own palette knife cake is to practice your design before you go to your cake. For this cake, I sketched out some flowers and practiced on food grade acetate paper, but you can also practice on parchment or wax paper, or a plate. Basically any flat surface will do.
It took a few tries before I got flowers I liked:
For this pink floral cake I used this palette knife kit but you can use any palate knives you want. I used the round palette knife for the petals and the smallest knife for the stems and big leaves. I used paint brushes for the detail leaves on the top of the cake. To color the buttercream, I used a tiny bit of rose pink for the petals and leaf green and forest green for the leaves and stems.
Here are some other buttercream flower designs I tried:
When you’re ready to paint your cake, make sure you are starting with a cake that is fully frosted and chilled. You want the frosted cake to be very hard so it’s easy to paint on. You can not paint on a cake that is frosted with a soft frosting like whipped cream or 7 minute frosting. But, you can paint directly on a cake covered in fondant or marzipan.
Tools for Cake Painting:
Once you’ve painted your frosting design you can use sanding sugar, sugar pearls, or other fun cake decorations like sprinkles or gold leaf foil sheets. For this cake, I use yellow and white sanding sugar, with white sugar pearls. Some of the sugar pearls I covered in edible gold luster dust.
Optional Cake Decorations:
Tips for cake painting with buttercream
- Start with a fully frosted and very well chilled cake. If the frosted cake is soft, it’s more difficult to paint. You can also paint on a fondant or marzipan covered cake.
- Sketch out a design and practice on a flat surface before you go right to painting your cake.
- If the cake starts to get soft before you’re done painting, put it back in the fridge for 20-30 minutes to firm up.
- Use tweezers to get any sprinkles, sugar pearls, or other decorations exactly where you want them.
Using this palette knife cake decorating technique is a fun and easy way to decorate a cake for parties and events. Try it at your next birthday party, bachelorette party, wedding or bridal shower!
Other cakes using the same palette knife buttercream painting technique:
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How to Paint a Cake with Buttercream
- 1 Frosted Cake
- 1 batch Buttercream Frosting
- Food Coloring
- 1 Cake Turntable
- Palette Knives
- Paint Brushes
- Acetate Paper optional
- Sketch out an idea for your design
- On a plate, in a bowl, or on cookie sheet add about 1/2 cup of frosting for each color.
- Add your food coloring to each color and mix well.
- Once you've mixed your colors, practice painting your design on flat surface
- Once you're happy with your design, paint on a very well chilled cake
- If at any point the cake becomes too soft to paint on, put it back in the fridge to chill and firm up.
Pink Flower Cake
- Starting with a round palate knife, add a bit of pink buttercream. In a downward motion make the first petal, like you are wiping the buttercream off the knife and onto your surface. Repeat in a circle for 4-5 leaves, making sure you are are always swiping inward.
- Using a small palate knife, add green frosting. Move downward from the bottom of the flower to the bottom of the cake. Clean the palate knife and highlight with the lighter green. For the leaves use the same palate knife and stroke outward in a leaf shape. You have to play with the angles a bit to get your desired thickness, and it can vary depending on what palette knife you're using, that's why practicing helps.
- Continue making flowers and leaves around the cake.
- Add flowers on the top of the cake. Use a small paintbrush for leaves.
- Using your finger, gently press sanding sugar to the center of the flowers. Using tweezers or your hands, add sugar pearls to the center of the flowers.
- Practice your design. I did my design one day and the next day, when I went to paint it on the cake, I had to re-practice until I got the hang of painting the design again.
- Make sure your cake is very well chilled or it will be hard to paint on.
- You can also paint directly on a marzipan or fondant covered cake.
Here are some other cake decorating techniques: