Painted cakes – a quick tutorial

In this blog post I’m going to show you how to paint your favourite images on to the best medium there is. Forget paper, canvas or Banksy-stylee concrete (so yesterday!) and think more sweetly… that’s right: we’re going to be painting on cake! Not only will your masterpiece delight your guests’ visual senses but it’s guaranteed to tickle their taste buds too (hopefully in a good way – I’m leaving that down to you and the oven though).

Now, whilst you may be tempted to run straight to your prized Van Gogh collection for inspiration, I would advise you to tame your creative side a tad and go for something a little more straightforward in design. But, hey, once you’ve built the confidence putting paint brush to cake, get your freak on and get to it! I don’t want to hear about any slicing of ears though – that simply will not do.

So, let’s get started.

You will need the following:

  • A cake covered in sugarpaste (otherwise known as fondant: the sweet, playdough-like stuff available in most supermarkets). Cover the cake a day before you need it to allow the sugarpaste to dry out a little and become firmer and easier to handle.
  • A scribing tool (a professional pointy piece of kit shown in yellow above; you can make do with a sharp pencil or perhaps a large sewing needle).
  • Clear alcohol such as vodka (I actually use food-grade 100% isopropanol which I buy online from specialist sugarcraft stores as it evaporates extremely quickly – this is what we want – but you can make do with vodka which is perhaps more likely lurking in your cupboard at home. It’ll just take longer to dry, so more patience is required).
  • Edible blossom tints/dusts/lustres (there’s no readily available substitute here, I’m afraid, so plan in advance and perhaps buy online if you don’t live near a specialist sugarcraft store – cheaper also!).
  • Small paintbrushes.
  • Artist’s palette (or egg cups, a saucer, beaker, etc., that can be used to mix your paints).
  • Greaseproof/parchment paper.
  • Edible ink pen (optional).

Let us begin

Unless you are already a confident artist you may want to begin by tracing an image that is the correct size for your cake onto the greaseproof paper (I typically do this). The traced image can then be held against the cake (or pinned in place if you find it awkward) and the scribing tool used to lightly draw over the image to make an impression on your sugarpaste.

Cake Sketch

Once the entire image is traced onto the cake, remove the greaseproof paper and you should see a faint indentation of your image (good lighting helps here!). For the particular design shown right I wanted to create a cartoon-style assembly of children, so I used a pen containing edible black ink to draw a defined outline over the indentations made with the scribing tool. This has the advantage of allowing you to visualize your image with ease prior to applying the paint, but you can of course just dive straight in with the paint if you want.

To begin the painting process mix a small amount of your chosen petal dust with a small amount of alcohol. The ratios are not precise – the more alcohol, the paler the colour (and the longer it’ll take to dry) so go easy at the start and test it out until you get a colour and consistency that you’re happy with. Depending on the percentage of alcohol that you use and the warmth of the room, the liquid may evaporate fairly quickly, so just add more alcohol whenever you need to keep the paint liquid.


When the paint is semi-wet on the cake you can blend different colours and, once dry, you can build up the same colour or add additional colour if you wish. In the example shown here I kept it simple and stuck to block colours to achieve a simple cartoon-style.

Close up 2

If you make a mistake in your painting it can be difficult to cleanly remove the paint, but tissue or cotton wool dampened with water and used to dab the offending area will do a fairly good job of erasing it, giving you a second chance.

So there you go – simples!

Once your masterpiece is complete, clean your brushes (with clean alcohol), let the paints dry out (the dusts can be re-used), sit back smugly, let the good people admire and then tuck in!


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