Pictures of SIMPLE cakes for a beginner?

Decorating By Cevamal Updated 5 Aug 2014 , 3:35am by Bunny0410

Cevamal Posted 14 Jun 2014 , 1:44am
post #1 of 24

I stumbled across this forum last week looking for muffin tips and I'm already addicted!


I've been baking since I was a kid but I am not an artistic person and have no interest in decorating other than a bare minimum to make it look decent. I love looking at the amazing things you all have done but I really just want to wade in ankle deep and get to a place where I can make a pretty birthday cake for my kids. Fortunately I have four of them so I'll have plenty of opportunities to practice. ;)


The galleries here are phenomenal but so far everything I've seen is completely out of my league. Do you have any recommendations for pictures of simple beginner cakes to give me some ideas for starting out? 


I realize this is an absurdly remedial question and most people just make a basic cake but you have to believe me when I say not an artistic bone in my body: I really want something to work off of. I'd like to stick to buttercream, not fondant, and smooth, not the star-tipped style.


I started the Wilton class years ago but the timing didn't work out. That was with one kid...there's no way I could do the class now!

23 replies
AZCouture Posted 14 Jun 2014 , 1:52am
post #2 of 24

AJust Google simple buttercream cakes. Or smooth icing. Or how to smooth cakes. Try simple buttercream decorated cake. That should bring up a lot of pictures.

Cevamal Posted 14 Jun 2014 , 2:02am
post #3 of 24

Hm. That was embarrassingly remedial. ;)


Although I have to say: Google and I have different ideas of what makes for "simple".

AZCouture Posted 14 Jun 2014 , 2:11am
post #4 of 24

AEh, no biggie. Maybe when you find examples of what you want to try, or that look simple to you, save them and make a collage, upload t this thread and ask about the method needed to accomplish the particular look.

Apti Posted 14 Jun 2014 , 2:29am
post #6 of 24

Congrats on 4 kids!  I totally understand what you are asking; some of the world's best cakes are on this site every day.  Even though you cannot attend the Wilton courses, there are many, many free tutorials available on line that you can watch. 


There is a thread on the Wilton forum that contains the essentials needed for new cake decorators:


How-To tutorials/videos for Cake Decorators


Also, the Wilton site is an excellent source of  easier buttercream cakes that will make a fabulous impression.   You can purchase the class workbook online or at a Joann's store.


Go to Youtube and type "easy buttercream cakes" in the search box.  Many of these will have full tutorials.


Here are some very popular, easy to create cakes:

Rose Cake:

Petal Cake:

Martha's Contemporary Basketweave:

Cevamal Posted 14 Jun 2014 , 3:05am
post #7 of 24

ATaste I can do! It's aesthetics that are the problem. The easiest ones are for my husband: I hand over decorating to the kids and then there's an excuse for it being a lopsided mess. :-D

But now I've stumbled across this damn site and am dying to make a tiered cake.

Apti, thanks for the links! I'll follow them in the morning.

MBalaska Posted 14 Jun 2014 , 3:11am
post #8 of 24

I've been baking for decades and I'm still not brave enough to stack.  oh well :roll:

I used a Wilton tier stand for the Wedding Cakes that I've made. 


When you have time to delve into the subjects that interest you, use the search button and read tons of threads.

AZCouture Posted 14 Jun 2014 , 3:22am
post #9 of 24

AThis is the easiest style I do.[IMG][/IMG]

I call it watercolor buttercream, for lack of any creative (silly) names. Smooth icing, then spread on colored icing on top once the smooth icing has chilled firm to avoid dinging or dents. Can't do this wrong if you tried!

vldutoit Posted 14 Jun 2014 , 3:25am
post #10 of 24

AWilton has a free app for tablets or smart phones that has a section called ideas. They range from simple to difficult and it tells you how to do every step.

AZCouture Posted 14 Jun 2014 , 3:27am
post #11 of 24

AAnd this is after years of practicing, smooth straight buttercream. If you ask me, this is way more fun than the decorating part. :D Give me a buttercream only cake [B]ANY[/B] day! And, track down a copy of Perfecting the Art of Buttercream by Sharon Zambito. That will teach you a lot. I don't use that kind of buttercream, but most of her methods adapt well to whatever you do use, and some you can't use at all with SMBC, but you don't need to do everything. [IMG][/IMG]

Nadiaa Posted 14 Jun 2014 , 4:30am
post #12 of 24

AAZ, what do you use to get your BC so smooth?

shannonann Posted 14 Jun 2014 , 5:02am
post #13 of 24

AWhen my kids were small I bought a book called

FamilyFun Birthday Cakes: 50 Cute and Easy Party Treats

It has really cute ideas that are designed for an average mom, not a cake decorator. My kids loved to look through the book and choose a birthday cake and then help create it. Most of the designs involve baking round layers or a 9x13, then cutting it into different shapes, assembling, icing, and decorating with candies. It should be available on Amazon.

AZCouture Posted 14 Jun 2014 , 7:34am
post #14 of 24

ABasically the methods taught in the DVD I referenced in my post.

Nadiaa Posted 14 Jun 2014 , 8:15am
post #15 of 24

AThanks lovely, I'll have to check it out xxx

Cevamal Posted 14 Jun 2014 , 2:07pm
post #16 of 24

MBalska: I'm not sure my willingness to stack is bravery...more naivete and an adventurous spirit. When I was a kid and wanted to start baking I went straight to yeast breads. When I took up knitting I made one washcloth, one hat, and then straight to socks. I'd rather do what's interesting than what's easy!


AZCouture: Your watercolor buttercream is gorgeous! I do challenge your assertion that it couldn't be done wrong though...I'll give it a go (eventually) and report back.


Shannonann: I'll look up that book, thanks! The only real decorated cake I've made was a firetruck cake for Thing 2's second birthday and it was from Family Fun. It was easy and a big hit but OMG the food coloring!!!



Now my challenge is keeping myself from diving in to a cake for Father's Day tomorrow. Both because I have no time and currently can't have dairy (the nursing infant is intolerant) and I only bake with butter.

SanChan Posted 14 Jun 2014 , 2:36pm
post #17 of 24


How about cake pops or cupcakes?

There are many ways to decorate with candies and cookies too.



Cevamal Posted 15 Jun 2014 , 4:37pm
post #18 of 24

My interest (current interest. SQUIRREL!) is tiered cakes. I'm fascinated by the architecture of it and want to give it a go. I don't like cake pops and I can already do a respectable job with cupcakes. I'm just looking for some super simple suggestions for decorating a small tiered cake so I can play with that.

Apti Posted 27 Jul 2014 , 6:07pm
post #19 of 24

SQUIRREL!     (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha)


Lordee, lordee.....SQUIRREL definitely describes my approach to cake decorating.   I have a ton of stuff that I've purchased to "make that cake design", that is still in the unopened package in my cake closet.   I'm all over the map with the techniques I've used.  The problem with this "Squirrel approach" is that I seldom do more than 2 cakes and don't have the benefit of repeated practice to get consistent results. 


The moral of this story is:  pick a 2-tier cake, make it.  If it is weird looking--eat it and make a second one.


For those who have no idea what SQUIRREL! means, here is a brief clip from the movie, UP.

Cevamal Posted 27 Jul 2014 , 8:30pm
post #20 of 24

AGlad you can appreciate my affliction. :-D

The wilton app is great. Don't know how I missed that reply before. Thanks!

freesia777 Posted 2 Aug 2014 , 1:39am
post #21 of 24


If tiered cakes are still your current interest, I echo Apti's advice- just make it. :D


I'm attaching a picture of my first tiered cake.  The rose swirl design is easier (and more forgiving) than it looks.  I believe someone posted a link to it further up in the thread.  I took a sheet of tinfoil, grabbed a piping bag, and started practicing.  If you don't like the rose you make, wipe it off and try again.  I find that the quicker I pipe, the better the rose looks.  If I think too much about it, it all goes to heck.


If you'd like something less "wedding-y" you could do the roses in different colors- maybe ombre?

Good luck and have fun!

PS- Nice "squirrel" reference. Best movie ever.

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Apti Posted 2 Aug 2014 , 5:14am
post #22 of 24

freesia~~Lovely 1st tiered cake!  You did very well.

Cevamal Posted 2 Aug 2014 , 8:18pm
post #23 of 24

AThat's beautiful! I've seen and considered that design.

I should also explain that I've been in "lurk and research mode" because my nursing infant can't have dairy and I have zero interest in making a non-dairy cake. I'm just biding my time until I can bake with butter again.

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