4 Ways to Customize a Store-Bought Wedding Cake

Take a basic wedding cake from simple to showstopping for your special day

Skill Level

Beginner

Time

1-4 hours

Skill level
Beginner
Time
1-4 hours
Written By

Emily Lael Aumiller

Lael Cakes

Written By

Emily Lael Aumiller

Lael Cakes

Your wedding cake plays an important role on your special day. A DIY approach allows you to fully customize your cake to reflect your wedding's theme or color story – but cake decorating can be daunting, especially for your own wedding. Save some sweat and tears by starting off with a pre-baked, plainly iced cake from your local bakery. Then comes the fun part — decorating! In this tutorial you’ll learn four creative ways to add a personal touch to your cake by embellishing it yourself with unique, food-safe materials. Ready to get started?

You might already have

A plainly iced cake (tier size will vary depending on number of guests, a 3-tiered cake is shown throughout this project).
Cake stand, lazy susan turntable, or cake turntable to use while decorating and for display.
Cake topper (if you have an antique topper or something special to display at the top of your cake, place it on the top tier, then decorate around it).
 

1. Dried pansies

Remove the cake from the refrigerator about 20 minutes before you start decorating so the icing has time to soften. This will help the pansies stick to the icing. Carefully remove the delicate pansies from the packaging and spread out on a flat surface. One by one, gently pick up each pansy and place it face-up on the icing. Secure each flower into place by lightly pressing it into the icing.
 
Place a few blossoms randomly around the sides of the tiers to create a waterfall effect — as if the petals are cascading down the cake. When you reach the top tier, overlap the blossoms to create a heavier, saturated look. Once complete, keep refrigerated until you're ready to display the cake for your wedding.
 

2. Edible gold leaf

Carefully remove the gold leaf booklet from the packaging, keep the gold leaf in the booklet. Remove the cake from the refrigerator to place decorations on immediately, while the icing is still cold and firm. One sheet at a time, pick the gold leaf up with a paintbrush or tweezers. (Do not handle the gold leaf with your fingers or it will stick!). Begin decorating by using the paintbrush or tweezers to gently place the gold leaf on the icing. Start with the bottom tier and overlap the gold leaf for a heavy look around the base of the tier.
 
Keep the gold leaf loose and airy as shown here, or use a paintbrush to gently pat it down for a matte finish. On the top tiers apply gold leaf lightly going up the center of the tiers. This keeps the movement of the design airy and fun.
 

3. Rock candy

Remove the cake from the refrigerator about 20 minutes before you start decorating so the icing has time to soften. This helps the rock candy stick to the icing. Remove the rock candy from the packaging and place on a flat surface. Arrange the candy from large to small pieces. If any pieces are too large, place a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap over the candy and use a mallet or rolling pin to crack into smaller pieces. Begin decorating by randomly arranging larger pieces of rock candy on the tiers of the cake beginning with the top tier. Secure the candy to the cake by gently pressing the flat side of the rock candy into the icing.
 
Fill in any gaps with smaller pieces of rock candy and place smaller pieces on top of the larger pieces for a stacked look. Sprinkle the extra small pieces around the tops of the tiers and gently stick them to the sides of the tiers. When finished, keep the cake covered in a box in the refrigerator to prevent the candy from melting.
 

4. Rice paper butterflies

Remove the cake from the refrigerator about 20 minutes before you start decorating so the icing has time to soften. This helps the butterflies stick to the icing. Carefully take the butterflies out of the packaging and place on a flat surface. Begin decorating by gently placing the large butterflies in the center of the front of the tiers. Keep butterflies flat or gently fold the wings up for added dimension.
 
Continue to layer and fill in spaces with the medium and small butterflies, securing them in the center of the front tiers. Finish by randomly placing a few butterflies around the cake.
 

Extra tips:

While decorating, if your icing gets too warm or isn’t chilled enough, place it back in the fridge for 30 minutes, then continue decorating. Place aside a few decorations from the cake to place around the cake table for a whimsical touch. To store your cake, place in a covered box to protect the decorations from moisture in the refrigerator. Do not freeze your cake. Depending on the type of cake, remove from the refrigerator for about 4 hours to have on display at your wedding. Allow your guests to enjoy your hard work and beautiful creation while it comes to room temperature to eat. If you want to save the top tier for your 1 st year anniversary, make sure to tell the kitchen to set it aside so they don’t serve it to your guests!

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About the Author
Emily Lael Aumiller

Emily Lael Aumiller, founder of Lael Cakes and author of Pure Artistry, discovered her love for pastry sculpture while pursuing a fine art degree. Having struggled with food allergies, Emily opened Lael Cakes to cater to clients with similar dietary restrictions in need of custom cakes and pastries. With over a decade experience, Emily offers a wide selection of services including cakes, dessert tables, recipe development, food styling, and baking classes.