How to decorate a cactus cake
Create the cactus cake of Instagrammers’ dreams when you top luscious buttercream and vanilla sponge with this exotic arrangement of plant icing decorations
We've combined two of the nation's favourite things – cake and cacti – to produce an edible landscape masterpiece complete with green desert foliage and biscuity 'sand'. This fun and stylish cactus-themed bake makes an impressive celebration cake or cupcake design and the green icing sugar plants are an Instagrammer’s dream. They are far from spiky and will go down a treat with green-fingered kids.
Although this cake looks intricate, the decorating technique is easy to master if you break it down. So if you are a fan of all things desert and dessert then start creating your verdant paradise using our easy tips....
Cactus cake recipe
To make the cake base, we used a plain vanilla sponge recipe. However, you could swap this for another sponge mixture such as our easy chocolate cake and the decorations also works well with cupcakes.
Ice your cake with the following vanilla buttercream mixture:
MAKES enough for 1 x 20cm cake or 12 cupcakes
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PREP 15 mins
- Put 250g softened butter in a large bowl.
- Add 500g icing sugar and 2-3 tsp milk, then combine everything roughly with a wooden spoon.
- Using a freestand mixer or electric beaters, beat the mixture until smooth and pale.
- Add some food colouring, if you like.
To decorate, start by creating a sandy biscuit base, then load up your cake or cupcakes with as many plants as you like. Mix up the sizes and shades of green for maximum impact.
Crush up a shortbread biscuit using a pestle and mortar. Sprinkle it over the surface of your iced cake in clumps to create a sand effect.
To make cacti, roll out a ball of green ready-to-roll icing. Dust with icing sugar and flatten it with your fingertips, then wrap the icing around a round chocolate truffle. Roll the whole thing in your hands to smooth the edges and seal it up. Mix a little water with some royal icing sugar to make a stiff paste, then pipe tiny dots all over the surface in curved lines to create spikes.
Make the leaves by moulding lots of pieces of green ready-to-roll icing into long teardrop shapes (make the tips as pointy as you can). Press the rounded ends of the leaves together, one at a time, bunching them from the centre. Make progressively larger leaves as you work outwards. Make a few of the leaves hang forward and others back for a natural feel. You can also add a light brushing of dark red food colouring to leaf tips to make them look even more realistic.
Fix a leaf nozzle to your piping bag – we used Wilton 67. Fill your piping bag with pale green buttercream. Holding the nozzle at a 45-degree angle, gently squeeze the piping bag and pull up sharply at the same time. This will form a small ivy-like leaf shape. Pipe a ring of these leaves, slightly overlapping, with the points facing up and outwards.
Start a new ring of leaves within the first one. Repeat until you reach the middle of the circle then pipe a few tiny spikes of buttercream to finish, holding the piping bag straight.
Take any star nozzle you like (or use a few types) and fix it to a piping bag. Fill the bag with pale green, dark green or greenish red buttercream and pipe dots or spikes in clumps. This is great for filling in the spaces between your other designs.
Step back to admire your final result...
This cake may look too gorgeous to eat, but you'll regret it if you don't take a slice!
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