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Budget Cake Decorating for Non-Artists

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With all the ready-made tubes of colored decorating icing and gel available in the grocery store’s birthday cakes section, you’d think it would be fast and easy to decorate a birthday cake yourself.  But what happens if you can’t draw?

It may be a great intention to make a frugal birthday or baby shower cake at home, that is- if the horses and flowers you draw on top of the cake really look like horses and flowers.  You want an inexpensive cake that agrees with your grocery budget, but that doesn’t look like your a school-aged child did the decorating!  If you are artistically challenged like me, but still don’t want to pay high prices for a bakery-decorated cake (bakery cakes can range from $12-$45- ouch!), this kitchen tip for decorating cakes is for you. 

Kitchen Tip: Use Cookie Cutters to Make Traceable Outlines

  • Choose cookie cutters in the appropriate shape for your theme (baby items for a baby shower, crowns for a Wilton Featherweight Decorating Bag 16 princess party, palm trees and stars for a Hawaiian luau, etc.).
  • Bake and ice a cake as you normally would.
  • Let the cake sit out uncovered for a few hours until the top layer of the icing starts to harden and form a light crust.
  • Place the chosen cookie cutters on top of the icing and lightly press down about 1 1/2 centimeters, making an imprint of the shapes.
  • Choose either a pastry tube with a decorating bag (shown at right) filled with colored icing, or different colors of store-bought icing gel (shown below) to decorate with.  

Piping Gel Tube - Royal Blue

  • Use the outlines you created from the cookie cutters to “trace the lines”.  Fill in the ridges of the outlines with colored icing or gel, then fill in the center of the shapes/animals with icing dyed with food coloring! 

Using the cookie cutters as “cheats” to create traceable outlines, cake decorating will be a snap – even if you’re not good at drawing.  Your shapes will come out perfect every time for a professional looking birthday, holiday, or baby shower cake on a budget!

Check out Tammy’s Recipes for more Kitchen Tip Tuesday tips!  Baby shower cake photo by yorkd.

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Danelle Ice is an entrepreneur in Los Angeles and mom of 3. She is the creator of and Danelle is also known as internet personality SimDanelle, the first virtual person. Danelle is a beauty guru on YouTube, vlogger, blogger, and new media darling. She is a current brand ambassador for for Keurig and previous AMD Tech Mom, Kraft Foods Delicious Byte brand ambassador, and Purex Insider.


  1. Sherry
    Feb 03, 2009 @ 05:17:13

    What great ideas!! :D


  2. angela
    Feb 03, 2009 @ 16:59:34

    thanks for the great idea


  3. Jerri
    Feb 04, 2009 @ 04:15:19

    Great tips! And the cake in the picture is so cute!


  4. Sarah
    Feb 09, 2009 @ 11:00:53

    What a great idea. I never would have thought of this… will be so helpful and I will definitely be using this idea in the future.


  5. Home Ever After
    Feb 09, 2009 @ 12:53:03

    @Angela and @Sherry: Thanks, and you’re welcome!

    @Jerri: Isn’t it cute? The cake alone makes me want to throw a shower for someone right now! lol



  6. Tweets that mention Budget Cake Decorating for Non-Artists - Home Ever After --
    Jan 06, 2011 @ 07:11:10

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Maureen Regalado. Maureen Regalado said: RT @HomeEverAfter: Budget Cake Decorating for Non-Artists [...]


  7. Home Ever After
    Feb 09, 2009 @ 12:54:06

    @Sarah: Glad it will be useful to you. I am the worst artist in the world, so this tip saves me from cake deco embarrassment! Thanks for the comment.



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