If you’ve ever made a cake, you might be wondering, “what do you put on top of a cake?” There are so many options available that it can get confusing.
Decorating a cake at home is a great activity for adults and kids. Of course, the options are endless- marshmallows, icing sugar, and marzipan - you name it. Don’t worry; decorating a cake does not take hours to complete.
You can decorate a cake with some melted chocolate and ganache, fresh berries, buttercream, edible flowers, and countless other things. The key is to choose something that makes the cake look beautiful and taste delicious.
You can try different cakes with different toppings each time to ensure that your baking experience is never boring. Send these cakes to your loved ones, bake them on your child’s birthday, or devour them all on your own- the choice is yours.
As cake experts who’ve baked thousands of cakes, perfecting their skills in the process, we’re here to share our knowledge with you. We will cover some easy techniques and methods to decorate a cake, tell you what you can put on top of a cake, including budget-friendly options, and discuss the different options for different types of cakes, such as chocolate cake, lemon drizzle cake, and Victoria sponge cake.
What Do You Put on Top of a Cake?
1. Melted Chocolate and Ganache
One of our favorite ways to decorate a cake is to use chocolate. For most people, chocolate cakes are a childhood memory that never seems to grow old. There are many ways to use chocolate on top of a cake- you can melt it, mix it with cream and use it as ganache, or simply dust your cake with cocoa powder.
If you choose to use melted chocolate on your cake, remember to melt it on low heat. Do not rush this process, as you risk burning the chocolate. White chocolate is easier to melt than dark or milk since it has higher sugar content.
Here are some options for making a chocolate cake:
- Triple chocolate cake
- Chocolate truffle cake
2. Edible Flowers
Cake and flowers go wonderfully well together. Whether it is some lavender, rose petals, or lilies, flowers on the cake look great on any occasion. Not only do edible flowers make a cake stand out, but they also make it smell amazing. All you have to do is use a string to tie the flowers together and decorate them around the edge of the cake. You can also simply spread flowers on top of the cake to make it look effortless.
If you are not sure whether the flowers you use are edible, we would recommend against eating them. Only consume flowers that are marked as edible and store-bought. Consuming flowers directly from your yard can lead to food poisoning, an upset stomach, diarrhea, and vomiting.
3. Mixed Berries
Do you want to make your cake summer-friendly? The best way to do this is by using mixed berries and seasonal fruit to decorate your cake. You can use dried raisins or fresh blueberries- the options are endless, especially since the summer blesses us with so many delicious fruits. If you are making a cake in the winter, you can use frozen berries, dried fruit, and clementines.
When using mixed berries and other seasonal fruit, the key is to add your fruit to the cake right before serving it. Moreover, you need to ensure that your fruit is dry. Wet fruit can destroy the cream topping and buttercream- an image that you never want to see on a cake.
4. Buttercream Frosting
Buttercream cakes are the easiest to make. All you need is some flavored extract (we love vanilla extract), icing sugar, butter, and some milk. Buttercream is the most used topping as you can change it into any flavor you like or simply to your favorite color!
The best part is that you can present buttercream cakes in a number of ways. You can use a palette-knife finish method, as well as piped swirls if you are feeling fancy. Buttercream can also be converted into cream cheese frosting; all you have to do is use cream cheese instead of butter.
When making a buttercream cake, if you find that the buttercream is too runny, you need to combine more icing sugar and keep it in the fridge before you decorate your cake with it.
Chocolates are a versatile topping that you can use on top of your cake- you can decorate the entire cake with them, use them in the middle like lava cake, or simply make designs on the cake. Making designs using chocolate is also a great way to get your kids involved in the kitchen so that they can help you bake. Popular chocolate options include Mars Bars, Maltesers, Smarties, and Bounty bars.
If you want to decorate your cake using chocolates, coat it with melted chocolate or buttercream beforehand. This will help create a base for the chocolates and ensure they do not fall off.
Marshmallows are a classic way to instantly make your cake more exciting. You can use melted marshmallows or whole marshmallows- the option is yours. Trust us when we say that your marshmallow cake will turn out to be a masterpiece. You can decorate your cake with them or melt them on low heat. The best part is that marshmallows are an affordable option and are easily available at every neighborhood store.
When melting marshmallows, we would recommend that you use a non-stick pan. It is important not to overcook the marshmallows and go slow with them. After all, you do not want to clean up a sticky mess in your kitchen.
7. Chocolate Fingers
If you feel like your cake is not even enough or does not look too great visually, using chocolate fingers on top of your cake will help sort all your problems. This means that if your cake comes out burnt at the edges, you can simply cut around the edge and decorate it with the chocolate fingers, and no one will ever find out.
All you have to do is use buttercream to cover the cake. You can also use royal icing or chocolate. Using a spatula, press it around the cake. This will help create a base for whatever toppings you want to use- flowers, fruits, and sweets make great options.
Remember to stock up on chocolate fingers. The more you use, the better. You do not want to finish half the cake only to realize that you did not buy enough fingers. Imagine what a nightmare that would be!
8. Icing Sugar
Are you looking for something extremely simple to use on top of your cake? Icing sugar is a great option for cake decorating. It is also quite fun and effortless, making it a wonderful way to encourage your kids to help out in the kitchen. You can dust the icing sugar on top of your cake or even use template paper to dust the sugar into shapes. Another option is to create an icing sugar paste with the help of some flavored extract and water.
However, before you dust your cake, you must cool the cake completely. If your cake has not hardened, there is a risk that the icing sugar will melt and dirty the surrounding areas in your kitchen.
9. Colorful Sprinkles
Have you baked a cake but are running out of time to decorate it? Get ready with some colorful sprinkles! Don’t worry- you can find them in your local supermarket. Sprinkles come in different colors and look extremely festive, making them a great option to put on a cake. You can also use some fondant roses and other treats to give your cake a unique spin.
We love using sprinkles on top of our cakes- some buttercream, pink and green sprinkles, and you have a generous treat that you can share with your friends.
If you are making a cake for events, you can use your sprinkles to set a theme- green and red sprinkles work well at Christmas, while pink and yellow look beautiful for Mother’s Day. You can also find sprinkles shaped like Christmas trees, animals, and flowers.
10. Candy and Other Sweets
Transforming your cake with sweets and candy is a great idea. All you need is a bag of your favorite sweets. Sprinkle these on top of your cake to give it a personalized touch.
If you are making a cake for your loved one or a friend’s birthday, you can add their favorite sweets so that they know that you thought of them while making the cake. On bigger occasions like Christmas, use festive treats instead.
11. Desiccated Coconut
Who doesn’t love coconut? The best part is that you can use coconut in and on top of cakes. Desiccated coconut makes a healthier option for individuals who do not want to consume sprinkles and sweets. Moreover, it makes the cake look just as beautiful as the other toppings mentioned in this article.
All you need to do is use buttercream to cover the cake and then, with the help of a spatula, press the coconut into the cake. Since coconut flakes are light, they can be used on any kind of cake. Light flavors like lemon and vanilla work well with coconut, as well as richer options like carrot cake and chocolate.
We would recommend buying desiccated coconut in bulk. This is because purchasing individual packets of desiccated coconut can become heavy on the pocket. You can also check online for deals before you make a trip to the supermarket.
Do you like a distinct almond flavor in your cake? For this, decorate the cake with marzipan and trust us, it will turn out moist and delicious. Marzipan is a great option for fruit cakes, as well as Simnel and Christmas cakes.
Before you attempt to put marzipan on top of the cake, make sure your hands and work surface are clean. Moreover, you have to double your speed when using marzipan as there is always a risk of it cracking or drying out.
About THE AUTHOR
Karen Sladyk has been studying and teaching cake decorating topics and culinary crafting projects for over 30 years. She has multiple awards-including first place finishes-in a variety of shows and conferences. She has made and or sold hundreds of dessert-themed gifts, masterpieces, and crafts. She enjoys the challenge of problem-solving chocolate issues in show pieces and making chocolate accessible to all people.Read more about Karen Sladyk