Decorating a cake can be super-easy and stress-free, so celebrate life’s special occasions, no matter how small, with a festive decorated cake. No need for piping bags and sugar flowers: All of these ideas can be done in minutes using supermarket staples, and they’re as much fun to make as they are to eat. Use them as a jumping-off point to pique your imagination and to discover easy cake decorating ideas from your own supermarket aisles.
All measurements are for a 2-layer, 8-inch round cake. The toppings are available at most supermarkets, and the amount of them needed to decorate the cake will vary depending on the size of the cake used. You can make your own cake or use a store-bought mix, but do frost the cake yourself, because the frosting needs to be wet so that the toppings stick to it. Don’t worry too much about technique. Use a butter knife and slather the frosting on in any way that works for you.
Doughnut Cake (pictured above)
You will need: 8 doughnuts, sprinkles (optional). Press full-size frosted doughnuts around the perimeter of the freshly frosted cake. (These doughnuts came with the sprinkles already on them.) Decorate top of cake with additional sprinkles in coordinating colors.
Rock Candy Circus Cake
You will need: approximately 16 rock candy sticks and one 2 1/4-ounce box of animal crackers. Firmly press the sticks of rock candy into the surface of a freshly iced cake. You can find rock candy at World Market or Amazon.com or, if you are feeling adventurous, you can even make your own. Spread a little frosting onto the back of the rock candy if you are having a hard time getting the sticks to stay in place. Poke animal crackers into the frosting around the edge of the cake between the sticks. Apply a tiny bit of extra frosting to the bottom of the animal crackers if they are not standing up straight. You can also lean them against the back of the rock candy sticks for extra support.
Kettle Corn Cake
If you really want a fun, crazy-looking cake, cover the entire thing with sweet popcorn! You will need: about 6 cups of popped sweet popcorn, such as kettle corn (about one 7-ounce bag from the grocery store), with 1/4 cup colored nonpareils mixed in. Press the popcorn into the sides of a freshly frosted cake to coat, and mound even more popcorn on top. Sprinkle on more nonpareils if desired.
Check out the full gallery for more 10-minute cake decorating ideas.
Jackie Alpers is an award-winning food photographer and the author of Sprinkles!: Recipes and Ideas for Rainbowlicious Desserts (Quirk Books 2013).