DESIGNING DILEMMA FIX-How to plan your cake design

Wondering about conceptualising a cake design

How do you transform your clients vision into an appealing and satisfactory cake?

Looking to create a beautiful outcome to your  themed  cake design!

Cake Artist's Tools
Cake Artist’s Tools

As a cake artist or a baker, often there is a dilemma about how to choose, create and showcase an interesting or appreciative cake design.

Here I enlist and discuss a few points for cake makers to consider when planning their cake designs.


1.Start by selecting a THEME.What is the occasion? Is it a children’s birthday cake? A girlie, anniversary or wedding cake !? These are the broader themes……After identifying these choose a more specific theme.Eg. Bling or make up for a girls cake.Animals or in rage cartoon character for  kids birthday party cake.Floral, All white or couple figurines for a wedding or engagement cake.

Take a look at three cakes made to the same theme, but with different client inputs.

First birthday concept with standee flowers, butterflies and building blocks
First birthday theme.....adds a bunch of colourful balls
First birthday theme…..adds a bunch of colourful balls
Baby’s first birthday cake with flowers and butterflies

2.What’s the BASE MEDIUM of your cake?Is it a fondant cake? Chocolate ganache cake with the works.Are you forming a design on a buttercream or going for  whipped cream finish?

Dark ganache base mediumwith red roses and touch of gold fondant ribbon
Dark ganache base medium with red roses and touch of gold fondant ribbon

3.Bear in mind the CLIENTS SPECIFICATIONS.Ultimately it’s the patron who pays and who has to be completely satisfied.Get the clients brief in detail, but explain what is practical. Which designs are you comfortable to work on and create for them.Ensure the minimum size of the cake is compatible with the type of the designing to be undertaken.

4.Craft your cake design, by selecting from the many EDIBLE DESIGNING MEDIUMS.Fondant, gum paste, modelling chocolate, modelling paste, royal icing, ganache or buttercream, photo images, wafer paper, edible lace, Fresh fruits, chocolate decorations or cut outs, whipped cream, glazed or miroir.Pastry elements like macarons,choux puffs, cookies and doughnuts are a popular trend in decorating and highlighting cakes.A truly skilled cake artist works with edible mediums alone.Using minimum internal structures, wires and support, if needed.

For an elaborate discussion on  various edible mediums check my post on

5.INSPIRATION.…Look around you for ideas they are near you in all forms.Outdoors or indoors, nature or inanimate objects.Find inspiration from your  crockery, wardrobe, furniture, accessories, kitchen pantry and more.Google for designs and ideas.Check portfolios of various cake makers.Youtube, Pinterest, Instagram these could be your best friends in cake design.

Design inspired from crockery
Cake Design can be inspired from crockery
Motifs on a handbag
Design ideas from Motifs on a handbag
Inspiration from a canvas
Inspiration from a canvas

6.SHAPE OR FORM….What is the shape or structure of your cake going to be like?Round, flat, square, hexagonal, dome or cubed cake ???!!! Is it a 2D or 3D cake.

Winnie the pooh by sugarcraft India....structural 3d cake.
Winnie the pooh by sugarcraft India….structural 3d cake.

Gravity defying or structured cake.Tiered, stacked or topsy-turvy cakes.A floating cake design or an illuminated cake creation.Hanging chandelier cake displays or latest  moving cake structures.Select the shape first so you can show maximum creativity in your eventual design.

7.Go to the drawing board and SKETCH.Even a rough pencil sketch will give you a fair idea of the size, positioning and last look of your design.Use the web to create a cake design board.Select different images of cakes to fit into your theme, then compare  them and formulate a final cake design.

8.TECHNIQUES you use while creating your cake will depend on the skills you have in executing them.Have you rehearsed a new technique? When they say practice makes you perfect it completely applies to cake decorating techniques.

There are innumerable techniques luring us in all the edible mediums.

Buttercream imprint technique
Buttercream imprint technique

Buttercream piping,blobbing, flowers or imprinting.Whipped cream rosettes, swirls and borders.Royal icing trellis-work, Lambeth technique and brush embroidery.Gumpaste figures, realistic or fantasy flowers.Swags, ruffles, frills and drapes in modelling paste.Onlays, hand painting, edible images, stencilling or airbrushing on fondant.Style with  quaint stained glass painting, applique work or mosaic pieces too.The choices are endless.How about wafer paper punch outs? Isomalt gems, English over piping, fine Indian inspired henna designs.Cute buntings, amazing billowing or ever intricate oriental string work ?? Fiddle with clever use of cutters or moulds.Attempt multi-layering or embossing designs on fondant.

9.The STYLE your design reflects….Have you thought about it? This is the distinctive appearance of your cake, which is brought about by a combination of the designing principles you follow.This could be the X-factor element which identifies the cake as YOURS…..You could have a stamp of a technique or form, that is endorsed in all your cake designs.

Some cake artists stick to a particular genre of designing and that is marked as their signature style.

Ballerina by Molly Eye shocking figurines which have her distinct style
Ballerina by Molly
Eye shocking figurines which have her distinct style
Elf design  by Pastiacci di Molly incorporated by me

Or you can follow trends and styles that are flourishing or topical and let your cake make an impact with that.

Minimilastic style for a One D cake theme
Minimalistic style for a One D cake theme

Check out style themes under Vintage,Monogrammed,Rustic,Art deco,Chevron,Burlesque,Traditional,Damask,Contemporary,Minimalistic,Opulent,Flashy,Vibrant,Naughty,Cute,Kitschy,Bold,Blingy,Couture.

10.COLOURS…….Learn to select an ideal colour palette.The right colours can lift your cake design many notches up.Colours express a mood.Use pastels for softness and femininity.Vibrance for boldness or festivity.Shimmer and lusters for brazen, majestic and grand designs.Monochrome colours for sleekness and simplicity.Earthy and nude colours for rustic designs.Aqua shades for sea and sky themes.Playing with colours is a must in any form of designing.Look at colour wheels and charts.Mix and match……Experiment like an artist!

Pots of luster dust waiting to be used
Pots of luster dust waiting to be used
Effective use of colour
Throw in colours to create a mood

11.BACKUP AND BACKFIRE…….Not all your designs will work.Not every technique you try may be successful.Yet keep on trying and remember to always have a backup plan.While designing, the path from visualisation to creation of the ultimate cake design is a bit tricky, especially when implementing new techniques and ideas.But once you master different decorating mediums and skills……your evolution as a cake artist will be smooth and enjoyable.

12.NEATNESS AND FINISHING QUALITY……..Refinement and quality of your cake design are determined by  the finish and detailing you work with.These are the mark of a great cake designer.This comes with practice and patience alone.No blotchiness or cracks.No bruises and apparent patchwork.World class artists will create designs with great deftness, neatness and thought.

work in progress
work in progress

13.ACCENTUATING your cake design.In the end always take a final look and add that extra element to your cake.A touch of glitter, a brush of luster dust, drop of a feather, a hint of cake jewellery or added texture to the cake board.Enhance your cakes with the use of ribbons or display them on exotic cake stands.This is the final touch up that gets the artist a dramatic finish to the design.

Gold luster dust adds the oomph factor to the cake
Gold luster dust adds the oomph factor to the cake

14.What’s TRENDING the cake world?

Cake trends are announced very much like those in  the world of fashion, hair, furniture, handbags or shoes.Trend predictions  are inspired from movies, colours, magazines, art, clothes, regional crafts.Once in a way a new technique is created  and it becomes a rage! Keep an eye out for the cake world trends.

Design your cakes with confidence.Rehearse and endorse new techniques.Working and creating with all edible mediums is never easy………In cakes, you almost always get a single chance at your design and have  restrictive time frames to work within.But that is the skill and flair to master and show!

So get your hands messy

Spark up your creativity

Simply enjoy designing a cake!

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