I’m not much of an artist when it comes to drawing and painting with conventional mediums, but I’ve been eager to try painting on cake ever since I discovered paste food colours about a decade ago and realised it was a ‘thing’.
The opportunity came in the form of a ‘present cake’, i.e. a cake shaped like a present. I baked a lemon sponge (tinting the cake mix lilac to complement the decorations on the outside) and built it up into an 8″ (almost) cube – it’s not quite as tall as it is wide, but it’s pretty close.
There’s a great video tutorial by Rosie Cake-Diva on how to paint Cath Kidston-style roses, and I used the same principles here.
First I coloured a block of sugarpaste ‘pale’ yellow. Who am I kidding? It was fluorescent yellow, ok, but I was going for lemon yellow. Then I covered the cake. After letting the icing dry out for 24 hours, I started on the painted flowers.
I have a massive range of paste colours and petal dusts in my collection, and while I knew I was looking for two shades of green and two shades of pink, I still needed to narrow down the exact shades. To do that I flattened out a piece of leftover yellow icing so I could do some experimentation. The colour of your background icing will influence how your painted colours appear, so I highly recommend not skipping this step.
I’m happy with how the roses turned out, and that rather than being terrified of messing up a perfectly good cake, I reeeeally enjoyed the process. Also, if you’re a bit short on time, this is a good technique to master. You really can transform a cake in less than an hour with just a few dib dabs of your paintbrush.
To paint the roses, I followed these steps:
Step 1: I dabbed a bit of each paste/petal dust colour on a plate and mixed them with a few drops of vodka. I know some prefer rejuvenator fluid, but clear alcohol worked just fine for me. Keep it to hand throughout your painting cos’ the colours dry out again fairly quickly and they will need topping up from time to time.
Step 2: With a small paint brush, I painted small pale pink circles (less than 1cm in diameter) all over my cake. There’s no need to wait around for these to dry before continuing the painting, the beauty of vodka is that it evaporates so quickly. In fact, my top tip is to also keep a small cup of vodka to hand for washing your brush between colours. Your brush will dry again almost instantly and you won’t end up making your next layer of colour all wishy washy, like you might if you were using water.
Step 3: Next, I painted light green streaks (leaves) on the edge of each pink circle, just 3 or 4 per circle will do.
Step 4: The dark green colour is used to highlight the edges of each of the leaves. Using the same paintbrush (I didn’t find it necessary to use a range of different sizes), I just painted along the edge of each leaf.
Step 5: The final step is a few dark pink highlights on the pink circles, transforming them into roses. I added three or four curved lines to the edges and insides of the circles to create the impression of petals. And that’s it – done! There’s not even any drying time. If you have a party to take that cake to just minutes later, you can just stick it in a box and off you go.
I added one final bit of decoration to my cake, a purple bow with some pearl dragees. Once again, I didn’t add any writing. I really must get better at that. I don’t like to pipe lettering under pressure and I always seem to finish my cakes with only moments to spare. I think I’m going to have to plan ahead in future and start with the writing – prepare a plaque and pop ‘Happy Birthday’, or whatever, on there, so it’s ready to be added as a finishing touch when all of the other decorating is done.
If you’ve tried painting on cake, please leave me a comment and a link to somewhere we can take a peak. I’d love to see!