Did you know you can upgrade a store-bought cake from drab to fab in less time than it takes to bake one? When you’re not in the mood to deal with the mess of baking, a store bought cake is a great cake hack to have in your arsenal. It lets you focus on the art of style.
But just because you’re working smarter, not harder, doesn’t mean you want your guests to know. These cake decorating hacks will ensure your honored guests will be none the wiser.
From icing inspiration to creative cutting to decor designs to candles on top, here’s your foolproof guide to upgrading a ready-to-eat cake. It’ll be even readier to eat in no time.
15 Creative Ways to Upgrade a Store-Bought Cake
1. Add a layer of icing.
It’s truth time. Grocery store cakes can be a little thin in the frosting department. Skimpy, if you will. And for many of us, frosting is 80 percent of the reason why we eat cake. (Sorry, naked cakes.)
Fluff up your store-bought cake with more frosting by mixing extra frosting together with some powdered sugar using an electric mixer. Thanks to the sugar, the frosting will spread more easily and help your decorations stick.
Plus, you can eat the leftover frosting out of the bowl. So there’s that.
2. Slide on some sprinkles.
These colorful confections always seem to leave a trail in their wake. If Hansel and Gretel used rainbow sprinkles, they would have never gotten lost in that witch’s gingerbread house.
If you’re feeling fancy, cut some numbers out of wax paper, and gently place them on top of your cake. Add sprinkles all over the surface, and the negative space will show your numbers.
We’ve got a blank space, baby, and we’ll write your age. Maybe even your phone number, in case we forget.
3. Put on some candy accents.
This cake hack is a real life saver, and you won’t need to pay 100 grand to do it.
Add a fresh coat of frosting to stick the landing, and decorate with your favorite candy pieces. We’re partial to Twix around the sides of the cake for maximum crunch potential.
You can’t teach an old dog new twix, but you can make a cake your guests won’t be able to resist. Or, uh, reese-ist. Tehe.
Little grocery store cake hack so you can work smarter, not harder for Holiday parties ❤️🎂 #fyp #foryoupage #fairtrade #organic #candy #cake #dessert #chocolate #Christmas #cakedecorating #kitchenhack
4. Layer with fruit.
Fruit is the fairy godmother of cakes. It takes a plain cake and gives it the Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo. Plus, you have plenty of options to choose from. Kiwis, strawberries, bananas, and oranges are as vibrant are they are tasty.
A little bit goes a long way, just like hot sauce. One way to level up your presentation is by sugaring your fruits. Brush your fruit with egg whites and blanket them in powdered-sugary goodness.
Just don’t try to dress up a fruitcake with more fruit. You won’t win creativity points for that one, people will just be mad.
Sugared fruit takes no time to make, but it’ll make your store-bought cake look fit for a royal event. In fact, we caught onto the idea from Claire Ptak, who baked Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding cake. Allow Milk Street recipe developer Rose Hattabaugh to show you how it’s done, and find Ptak’s famed spice cake recipe via the link in our profile → @177milkstreet #milkstreet #milkstreetrecipes #milkstreetdesserts #milkstreetbakes #cake #cakerecipes #holiday #holidayrecipes #holidaybakes #easyrecipes #food #baking #violetcakes
5. Empty your cereal cabinet.
If you’re like us, you have a quarter of a box of about five different cereals sitting in your pantry.
Good news! You can use dry cereal to decorate your store bought cake. Slather on some fresh icing and pop those dry cereal pieces on in any formation that feels funky fresh. Then congratulate yourself for being creative and thrifty.
Cereal transforms store-bought cake
6. Introduce characters.
This is a classic cake hack that deserves an honorary mention. Adding on plastic characters can give your cake dimension and personality.
Spread a fresh coat of frosting to keep your characters steady. Then roar with pride, because your cake is about to be the mane event. But if they don’t like the recipe that lays underneath, well, that’s on you.
7. Grab attention with cake toppers.
Cake toppers are the cheerleaders of decorations. They stand up in an eye-catching formation you can’t look away from. Cake toppers have spirit, yes they do.
Cake toppers can be purchased from your local grocery store or an online marketplace like Amazon. If you’re feeling festive, you can even craft your own.
All you need to do is print out lettering using a font of your choice, cut out the letters in foam, and then add some craft sticks. That’s fewer steps than setting up your new AppleTV.
8. Bedazzle with candles and sparklers.
The lighting can really change the tone of a place. We’re siding with Architectural Digest on this one, because our house is basically an IKEA show room.
Sparklers are not just for the Fourth of July. They can bring that “wow” factor to your store bought cake that regular candles can’t achieve alone. This cake is lit.
9. Pipe on a fun border.
Piping bags bring that certain je ne sais quoi to your cake’s aesthetic. Their fancy presentation belies their simple execution. Piping tips come in many shapes and sizes, so you have a multitude of options.
Cut the edge off one corner of the piping bag and spoon in your preferred icing. Attach the bag to the tip of your choice to create an elegant border that will make your cake pop. Practice on a plate first, both because piping is a skill and so that you can eat the extra icing after.
10. Cut creative shapes.
There’s no rule that says a sheet cake has to stay a rectangle. After all, a square can be rectangle, according to geometry. The same rule applies to cakes. With a little creativity, you can make it into your ideal shape.
Use cookie cutters or just a knife to cut your cake into the perfect shape. Circles are so overused.
11. Write a message.
Personalization makes everything better. There’s nothing quite like seeing your name almost spelled correctly on your Starbucks cup.
Edible writing gel lets you turn your store bought cake into a creative tablet. Write a catchy message or personalize the cake for your guest of honor.
Note: this may not be the time to bring back the bubble letters that were popular in elementary school. Simplicity is key here. Aim for Helvetica, not Corsiva.
12. Glide on some ganache.
Ganache is a simple cake hack that will turn your grocery store cake into an elegant centerpiece.
With a 2:1 ratio of chocolate to cream, warm up your cream for a minute and pour it over chocolate chips. Let it sit for another minute before whisking. You can spread or drizzle the ganache across your cake, or use it as a filling.
We ganache believe how easy it is. And neither will your guests. Unless they already know how to make ganache. Then maybe they won’t be as impressed.
13. Garnish with flowers.
Flowers add elegance to a cake. Gather fresh-cut flowers of your choice and cover the stems with plastic wrap before inserting them into your cake. This will keep water in the stem and prolong your flower’s vibrant facade. If only this hack would work for our teeth whitener.
Guests will be clamoring for a lily more, so make sure you have enough for seconds.
How to transform a grocery store cake when you’re in a pinch or on a budget 🌸 STEP 1: Remove the colorful frosting when frozen. This keeps all the colors from spreading and as the frosting thaws, you can smooth it all out. STEP 2: Garnish with flowers. Be sure to rinse and dry florals prior to adding to cake. I also like to wrap the stems in plastic wrap. This acts a a vase for the flowers, keeps all the water in the stem. Definitely give this DIY cake a try for your next birthday party, baby shower, bridal shower or even for Easter! #birthdaycakeideas #babyshowerideas #bridalshowerideas #diycake #cakedecorating #floralcakes #bridalshower #babyshower #birthdaypartyideas
14. Tier it up.
This cake hack requires not one, but two store bought cakes. They should be the same shape, but different sizes.
Put some toothpicks in the middle of the larger cake to anchor it to the top cake. Add some frosting to seal any cracks.
It’s that easy. No tricks here, only treats. Two layers of them, in fact.
I hadnt got a cake organised so popped to M&S and got these two cakes to stack… looked much better than I expected #cakehack #disorganisedmum #organisedmum #smartwaystolive #birthdaycake #birthday #cake #tieredcake #rainbowcake #children #boysmum #boymum #mumhacks #tipsandtricks #lifehacks #fyp #TikTokBaking #CakesOfTikTok #BakingBusiness #AmazingCakes #CakeDecorating #CakeInspiration #DeliciousDesserts #CreativeCakeIdeas #BakingTikTok #BeautifulCakes #BakingVideos #DeliciousCakes #CakeVideos #CakeTikTok #caketok #FunThingsToBake #BakersOfTikTok #mumsrecommended #timertidy #shopping
15. Cut a hole in the middle.
Okay, we know what you’re thinking. Isn’t a cake with a hole in the middle called a donut? Technically yes, and this hack lets you take your store bought cake to a new level. Literally, because we’re leveling the middle.
Take a small cup and press it in the middle of your cake. Fill the hole with sprinkles, candy, frosting, or anything else that fits your cake’s theme. Take the cake piece inside the cup and add it on top of the hole with another layer of icing.
It’s a hidden surprise that no one will guess until they take a bite. You may want to build up the suspense beforehand. Just don’t be surprised if people are disappointed that a puppy doesn’t pop out.
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