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The 15 Common Cake Designs + Names So You Know What to Ask For


Whether you’re planning your wedding, a baby shower, bridal shower, birthday party or any other special occasion, you might just have a custom cake made to help celebrate the occasion. You might even be making your own specialty cake, which is always a fun task to take on! It can be confusing and a little overwhelming at times to try and figure out exactly what you want for your cake because nowadays, social media is filled with different ideas and trends. Even though these pictures are beautiful, it can definitely be a lot to take in and sort out.

I’ve worked in a few specialty cake shops and I have created many cakes for my friends and family and as a decorator, I have to say, it’s a huge help when the customer comes in with a list of cake decorating ideas and pictures of what they have in mind. If you’re stumped on where to start, here is a helpful list of every cake design to give you some inspiration for your next big event!

1. Ombré

The ombré trend has been a popular one for some time now-not only with celebration cakes, but with hair, too! Start by lightly icing your cake aka crumb coat and and choose your base color.

Use food dye to create your desired shades and spread the different colors of icing around your cake (start with the darkest shade of icing on the bottom) and smooth out with an offset spatula.

2. Ruffles

This is an elegant design that can be made by cutting out strips of fondant and applying pressure with a ball tool to the edges making them thin out and curl.

Stick on each strip of ribbon around the cake by applying some sugar glue to the cake and overlap each piece.

If you’re not a fan of fondant, you can also create ruffles with buttercream. Use a piping bag with the petal tip and create ruffles of any colors in any direction around the cake. If you’re trying out this design at home, just sure your buttercream isn’t too soft for this- you can always test it out on a piece of wax paper.

3. Animal Print

If you’re having an animal-themed party or you’re just an animal lover, this leopard print design is quite easy to make.

Using a thin brush, paint brown spots (or any colors you like) of different sizes and go over the outside with black paint. You can simply make edible paint by mixing together colored food gel and a little vodka.

Zebra stripes are also fun to put on a cake for an animal-themed party. Be creative and cut different free-form strips out of black fondant and apply to the cake.

You can go for an untraditional approach and use a color other than black for the stripes, which is perfect for a kid’s birthday!

Giraffe spots are a little easier to make and basically just random brown spots made with fondant or sometimes painted onto a cake.

4. Basketweave

I’ve always loved the basketweave pattern on cakes, especially for occasions like Mother’s Day or a bridal shower. By using buttercream, a piping bag and basketweave decorating tip, you can easily create this woven-look design. For full directions on this design, click here.

5. Textured Stripes & Swirls

Cake designs

This textured buttercream stripe design is rustic, easy and one of my favorite looks. I love it so much I chose it for my wedding cake, pictured above!

Those are handmade beach chair cake toppers that my husband made and you might be able to spot the tiny veil, bouquet and top hat!

Simply create this look with a small offset spatula and drag it across the buttercream.

These textured swirls are also gorgeous and still give off that rustic look.

6. Damask

This impressive cake design looks difficult, but it’s actually pretty simple. To get an elegant design like the one pictured above, you can use a stencil, which are sold in many crafts stores or online.

Spread royal icing or use an airbrush and cover the stencil that is placed on the cake. When you lift up the stencil, you’re left with a beautiful design!

7. Metallic Gold

If you’re going for a luxurious cake for a wedding or any other special occasion, this metallic gold look would be perfect.

There are a few ways to achieve this: airbrushing or spraying the cake, painting the cake with edible gold paint or if you’re feeling extra fancy you can splurge on edible gold leaf!

If you’re going for an antique, vintage or chic look why not add in some lace or pieces of burlap along with the metallic gold. So pretty!

8. Drip Cake

This trendy drip design on any cake makes it look even more appetizing! Just carefully spill semisweet or white chocolate ganache over the top of a firm, frosted cake and let it drip down the sides. You can use a small spatula to help the ganache drip down.

This is a fun cake design that’s supposed to look a little messy! You can dress it up with sprinkles, candy pieces or edible pearls.

9. Hand Painted

While this cake design takes some extra time to achieve and tends be a little costly, the end results are unique and one-of-a-kind. Any hand painted cake would be the talk of the party!

10. Buttercream Roses

Buttercream roses are beautiful on a tiered wedding cake, but the look is also appropriate for any other special event like a sweet 16.

All you do is pipe swirls over the cake with a star tip and you can make them any size or color. Even better that they’re completely edible, too!

The ombré rose look pictured above is also very popular on cakes.

11. Swiss Dots

This cake design pattern is simple to do and resembles small pearls that are commonly found on a wedding dress or veil. Just pipe the dots on using a piping bag and a small round tip.

These pearl-like dots can also go in any direction on the cake.

12. Lace

Vintage and beautiful, lace work adds an extra wow factor to any cake. You can make your own edible lace or easily buy it at a craft store or online. I love this beautiful cake design with sugar flowers.

13. Cornelli Lace

This free-form technique is piped on a cake and gives off a more casual look that’s still fitting for a wedding or anniversary. The curved lines continue throughout the entire cake, but do not touch or overlap and look similar to a lace pattern.

14. Pulled Dots

This is a quick piped on design that looks fancy and almost resembles a mermaid tail. You won’t believe how simple it is: using a piping bag with a round tip, squeeze out circles of buttercream going from top to bottom. Once you have a row of circles, use a small offset spatula and gently push down on each circle and pull.

15. Scrolls

This creative cake decorating idea is elegant and impressive and looks beautiful on a tiered cake. It’s pretty easy to do-simply just have a piping bag ready to go with a small round tip and create S’s and C’s all around the cake.

Once you have the hang of it, it’s kind of relaxing and fun to do! These scrolls are also perfect for filling in space around sugar flowers.

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