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Comprehensive Guide to Cake Design Ideas for the Holidays

Even the best bakers can get a little stumped when it's time to create yet another cake. A fun way to come up with ideas is to have a look at what others are doing. Browse through recipe books or websites and blogs online. Often, just looking at a few pictures helps to kick start the creative juices! Of course, this doesn't mean that the cake designs have to be recreated exactly according to the images. Use them for inspiration to create something entirely new. Fondant and marzipan are popular materials for covering cakes and also for shaping decorations. Alternately, cakes can also be frosted, iced, or drizzled. Decorating cakes truly is a form of art, and just like any other art, it requires practice and lots of fun!

Valentine's Day

Hearts and roses are usually the norm when it comes to Valentine's Day cakes. A classic cake for this special romantic day usually involves a decadent chocolate creation topped with buttercream icing in hues of whites, pinks, and reds. Instead of doing a round or square cake, try a heart-shaped cake instead. Cupcakes are also fun, especially for a party. Sprinkle some sugar hearts or colored sprinkles on top of the icing. For an exotic touch, top the cake with sugared rose petals.

Easter

For kids (and adults too!) half of the fun of digging into Easter treats is in marveling at the fun decorations. Some common themes for Easter cakes include eggs, bunnies, crosses, chicks, or spring-themed scenes. Carrot cake is a great option for Easter, and cream cheese frosting lends itself well to all sorts of designs. An easy way to create decorations is to use food color to tint marzipan or fondant and then hand-shape it. Use chocolate sprinkles for eyes and other facial features.

  • Bunny Cake - Follow a detailed tutorial to make a rabbit-shaped cake.
  • Easter Cake Ideas - Get inspired with these Easter-themed cakes in the form of a cross, spring flowers, rabbit, and more.
  • Easter Cupcakes - Top carrot cupcakes with miniature fondant carrots or a nest of colored fondant eggs.
  • German Easter Cakes - These delicious German cake recipes also include notes on design and decoration.
  • Easter Egg Nests - Learn how to make candy nests for mini eggs as a topping for an Easter cake.

Independence Day

Just about everyone seems to make a flag-shaped cake for the Fourth of July. If that isn't your thing, try playing around with the color theme instead. Make a multi-layered cake that shows off each of the flag's colors through the center of the cake when it is cut. Blueberries and strawberries or raspberries are colorful options for decorating a light, summer dessert. Another option is to tint icing or frosting and decorate the cake in alternate colors of blue, red, and white.

  • Flag Cake (PDF) - Use strawberries and blueberries to make a fruity cake decorated like a U.S. flag.
  • USA Cake - These sheet cakes uses fruit as well as mini marshmallows for decorations.
  • Firecracker Cake - Wow your guests with this incredible tri-colored cake!
  • Patriotic Cupcakes - These festive cupcakes can be decorated in a number of ways.
  • July 4th Cake Design Ideas - Have a look at these two very different Fourth of July cakes for some inspiration.

Halloween

Halloween is likely the most fun occasion for bakers! There are usually two categories: cute, family-friendly cake decorations, and terrifying confectionary monsters. Ghosts, Frankenstein, zombies, mummies, vampires, bats, spiders, and tombstones are some popular themes for cakes on this eerie night. Use pieces of candy to create some edible monsters. Cotton candy makes great faux cobwebs when stretched out a little.

  • Creepy Confections - Let your imagination go wild with these rather creepy cakes!
  • Witch Cake - Make a friendly witch out of cake for Halloween.
  • Kitty Litter Cake - Gross out the kids with this rather realistic-looking kitty litter cake.
  • Pumpkin Cupcakes - These cupcakes are forgiving enough that kids can decorate them and have a ball!
  • Spider Cake - Kids will shriek with delight (possibly also fear) when they see this enormous spider cake.

Thanksgiving

Although most Thanksgiving dinners end with pumpkin pie, a cake is an equally delicious dessert option. Try to think of a design that plays on themes of turkeys, pilgrims, or general autumn imagery. Use a pastry cutter or cookie cutters to create leaves and other shapes. Warm hues of red, orange, and yellow work best for Thanksgiving cakes.

  • Turkey Cakes - This hilarious quirky turkey cakes might be just the thing for Thanksgiving.
  • Thanksgiving Maple Cake - Save time with a simple but classic cake decoration for Thanksgiving.
  • Fondant Turkey - Learn how to make a miniature fondant turkey as a cake-topper.
  • Pumpkin Roll - Instead of the traditional round cake, try a jelly-roll type of pumpkin cake.

Christmas

Christmas cakes are all about complimenting stark white frostings with festive red and green decorations. After laying out the fondant or marzipan covering for the cake, use a star-shaped icing tip to create a snowy-looking surface of frosting. An easier option is to grab a sieve and dust icing sugar over the entire cake. It is extremely simple but looks stunning.

  • Vintage Decorations (PDF) - Read about decorating and wrapping Christmas cakes, the old-fashioned way.
  • Classic Christmas Cake - The classic decoration for Christmas cake is with marzipan and icing.
  • Floral Decorations - Many people add artificial decorations in the form of poinsettias and miniature Christmas trees.
  • Japanese Christmas Cake - Japanese Christmas cakes are decorated with strawberries and whipped cream.
  • Fruit Toppings - Make the cake look extra decadent by piling whole fruits and nuts on top.
  • Marzipan Christmas Cake - This cake is covered with a layer of marzipan instead of fondant, and then decorated with sculpted marzipan decorations.

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