This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.
This is a six inch painted buttercream cake with soft vanilla layers and swirls of buttercream flowers on top.
For Mother’s Day, I got to play around in the kitchen. Yes, I made my own Mother’s Day cake! It is so much fun to try out new trends like striped cakes or this painted buttercream cake.
One trend that I’ve been seeing is painted buttercream cakes. There are various techniques to “painting” on a buttercream cake. This technique is so simple and only takes a paint brush (food safe) and gel food coloring.
How to Create the “Paint”
To create the paint, I used a mixture of gel food coloring and vodka. However, you can use any clear alcohol. It only takes a few drops to thin out the food coloring.
You’ll need food safe brushes like these Wilton decorating brushes. Once your cake is chilled and crusted, dip your brush into the paint and softly brush onto the cake. If you start to notice your cake is warming up, pop it back into the fridge for a bit.
I used my crusting buttercream frosting for this cake. I think the “crust” allows you to easily paint the cake without smudging.
Painted Buttercream Tips
- Make sure your buttercream is chilled in the fridge. You should be able to touch your cake without the frosting sticking to your hands. If it gets too warm, the brush will start to indent the frosting. If so, put it back in the fridge for 20-30 minutes or until it is firm again.
- Use food safe paint brushes. No one likes to eat paint bristles in their cake.
- Use a good quality food coloring. I used gel food coloring but also tested out a few drops of liquid food coloring. Either worked fine, but I found that the gel food coloring seemed to work better.
- Thin out your food coloring with alcohol so that it goes on smooth.
- Mix the colors for a two-dimension look. At first I painted just pink and purple separately. I started to add layers of the different colors on top of each other and I really like how it turned out.
- Have fun with it! I do not have an artistic bone in my body. If you cannot paint characters or flowers, maybe stick with something more abstract like this. Just try not to stress about it.
Buttercream Flower Cake Top
Icing Tips & Tools:
- 1M Icing Tip
- Wilton Star Tip Set (I used #21 and #12)
- Piping Bags
- Icing Smoother
- Bake Even Strips (helps the cake bake evenly)
- 2 cups cake flour (280 g)
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 4 egg whites
- 2 sticks of butter (226 g) - room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups sugar (280 g)
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup milk room temperature
- 1/2 cup sour cream (130 g) - room temperature
- 1 cup butter (227 g) room temperature
- 1/2 cup shortening (Crisco) (100 g)
- 6 cups sifted powered sugar (750 g)
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- Butter and flour three 6 inch cake tins and line with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 340°F/170°C.
- Sift all the dry ingredients (cake flour, salt, baking powder) in a medium bowl and set aside.
- In a small bowl, mix the milk and sour cream together. Set aside.
- Using a handheld or stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed (4) for about 3 minutes until smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
- Slowly add the egg whites one at a time to the mixture on low speed (2) and increase the speed to medium (4) for about 2 minutes until combined. (May look curdled but it will smooth out as you beat). Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the vanilla.
- On low speed, add half of the dry ingredients and mix until barely incorporated. Then add half of the milk mixture and mix for a few seconds. Then add the remaining dry ingredients mixing for a few seconds and then add the remaining milk. Turn off the mixer and mix it by hand with a rubber spatula to make sure the batter is combined. Do not overmix the batter.
- Pour the batter evenly into the pans. Bake for about 30-35 minutes until the cakes are cooked. Insert a toothpick into the center of the cake, if it comes out clean then it's done.
- Allow cakes to cool completely (15-20 minutes) and then gently remove from the pan and allow them to rest on a wire rack.
Make the Buttercream Frosting
- In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat butter and shortening on medium speed until smooth and creamy (2-3 minutes). Add half of the powdered sugar and beat of low speed for 30 seconds. Add a 1/4 cup of the milk and mix on low. Add the remaining powdered sugar and milk. Add vanilla. Mix on low for 30 seconds and gradually increase the speed to high and beat for 2 minutes. If it is too thin, add more powdered sugar. If is it too thick, add more milk.
- Add a layer of buttercream between each cake layer. Cover the cake with a thin layer of buttercream. Use an offset spatula and a bench scraper to smooth the frosting. Put the cake in the fridge for at least 10 minutes and then apply another thin layer of frosting to the sides and top of the cake. If desired, add food coloring to a small amount of frosting and pipe buttercream flowers on the sides.