Cake Decorating Tips: Alternatives To Icing

Want to make a cake without icing? Consider these unique decorating alternatives.

Icing is the most traditional way to decorate a cake, but it is by no means the only way. Try one of these flower or fruit decorating methods for a delicious and unique cake.


Fresh, edible flowers can be used to create a stunning design on any cake; use edible greenery as an accent. Even if your guests do not eat the flowers, by using only edible plants on the cake you ensure everyone's safety.

Some edible flowers with sweet flavors, appropriate for cake decorating are:

- roses: sweet and flavorful, with beautiful aroma

- violets: gentle sweet flavor

- pansies: have mild flavor which ranges from sweet to tart

- impatiens: have a bland, innocuous flavor

- lilacs: a lemony floral flavor

- lemon verbena: citrusy flavor is perfect for a lemon or pound cake

Some edible greenery choices ideal for cakes include:

- mint leaves

- citrus leaves

Make sure you purchase your plants from organic sources; you do not want to serve flowers that have been treated with pesticides or other chemicals.

Rose blossom cake:

For a classic floral cake decoration, purchase three to four dozen miniature roses and several sprigs of mint. Bake any flavor sheet cake and place on a cake platter or tray. Dust with a light sprinkling of powdered sugar. Trim all of the roses to remove all leaves and thorns. Trim each stem to between one and two inches long.

Put the roses into small bouquets of three. Slide a bouquet into a corner of the cake at a 45 degree angle so the just the rose blossoms are visible. Place trimmed mint sprigs at the base of the rose bouquet. Repeat in the other corners of the cake and at intervals around the base of the cake.

Sugared flowers:

Flowers may also be covered with crystalline sugar for a beautiful shimmery appearance. To sugar a small flower blossom, mix meringue powder and water to create a thick substance. Dip the flower in the meringue, then in superfine sugar. Once it dries, you may use it to decorate the surface of the cake.

Note: while all these plants are commonly considered to be edible, individual people may have allergies or reactions to specific varieties.


Fresh fruit is a delicious decorative option for any cake. You can adorn your cake with almost any type of small whole fruit, such as berries, or with sliced fruit varieties. If you use sliced fruit, you will need to put a thin glaze over it to prevent it from turning brown once it has been cut.

Berries and Cream Cake

For a simple and elegant cake sure to please everyone, make a berries and cream cake. White, yellow, lemon or pound cakes all work well for this recipe. Make the two-layer cake of your choice. Place the bottom layer on a cake tray or platter. Coat the top with a generous layer of whipped cream. If desired, place thin slices of strawberries on the whipped cream before adding the second layer. Spread a thin layer of whipped cream on the top of the cake; then place whole blueberries, raspberries or blackberries in a decorative design on the cake. Spirals, wedges of color and circular patterns all work well with berries. Pipe a decorative border of whipped cream around the top edge of the cake.

Mixed Fruit Cake with Glaze

Use any vanilla or lemon sheet cake for this recipe. First, make your glaze by combining one cup of apricot or peach preserves with one teaspoon lemon juice, two tablespoons of sugar and two tablespoons of water in a small saucepan. Stir and cook over medium heat until it is bubbly and liquid.

Cut up an assortment of fresh fruit into thin slices. A combination like peaches, kiwi and strawberries works well. You may also use whole small berries such as blueberries or raspberries. Place the fruit on top of the cake in any decorative pattern. You may cover the entire cake or leave portions without fruit. Once the fruit has been positioned, spoon the glaze over the entire top of the cake, sealing the fruit and creating a thin coating.

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