1. Wrap your cake pans with these strips or wet towels to make perfectly flat layers.
More info here.
2. Drop your cake from a foot above the counter before baking to bust any lurking air bubbles.
(Warning: Don’t use this for delicate cakes leavened with egg whites, like sponge or angel food cakes, since they need those air bubbles to stay light.)
3. Leave slices of bread on cakes while they cool to keep them from drying out.
Sounds like voodoo, but apparently it works! The bread will dry out, but the cake will stay moist. Via Baked Bree.
4. Freeze wrapped cake layers ahead of time and assemble the day of the party.
More good tips on layer cakes over at Smitten Kitchen.
5. Use fruit purée to naturally tint cake batter pretty colors.
This pink (for Smitten’s Pink Lady Cake) comes from strawberries. If you want a more noticeable color, you can amp it up a little with food coloring.
6. Ombré layers are less natural, but totally awesome.
Get the recipe here.
8. Funfetti cake is easy to make from scratch; just add sprinkles to your favorite white cake batter.
No shame in boxed mix, but it’s kind of fun to do it this way. Get the recipe here.
9. For 3- and 33-year-olds only: Put two Bundt cakes together for a perfect 3 shape.
Bonus points for M&M stripes. Instructions here.
10. Or make any number out of cake with these tips.
The directions are sort of in Australian cake lingo, but the visuals are still helpful.
11. Make a simple frosting swaggy by browning the butter first.
Get the recipe for this Carrot Cake with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting.
12. Use this color-by-number guide to make different frosting shades.
This handy chart from Food Network Magazine tells you how many drops of red, yellow, green, or blue to use to create each shade. Start with white frosting without vanilla added, since that can change the color.
13. Go crazy, make it ombré!
Instructions for this Funfetti beauty here.
And here’s one more frosting GIF, because YUM.
Watch the full video from SAVEUR here.
15. You can melt storebought frosting in the microwave and pour over a cake for easy, super-smooth frosting.
16. Frosting 201: Fondant Fringes and Their Impact on Levels of Joy
Joy levels proven to increase dramatically in presence of fondant fringe. Here’s a step-by-step tutorial on how to make them.
17. Leaving the sides of a cake unfrosted is less work and totally chic.
Get the recipe for this pretty almond “tomboy” cake here.
As with most things in life, this works best with Funfetti.
Trim off the outermost edge of the layers to show off those #sprinks.
19. Send your message with happy birthday banner.
Writing on cakes just never works out the way you think it will. So don’t! Get the instructions and a recipe for this sponge cake here.
20. Flowers make a lovely topper for spring and summer birthday cakes.
Get the recipe for this red velvet cake (decorated with carnations) here.
21. Fruit can also be very pretty.
Recipe for this Peaches and Cream Cake here.
22. Cut out waxed paper stencils to make these cool designs with sparkly sugar.
Get the instructions here.
23. Tie tiny adorable balloons to skewers and stick ‘em in the cake.
25. When in doubt, just throw hella sprinkles up on that thing and call it a day.
26. Instead of counting out exactly the right number of candles, just place them to make one big number.
27. For those who prefer not to announce their age, a single candle is always classy.
As long as there are sprinkles, everything will be wonderful.
28. Extra-tall candles are extra elegant.
Just try not to set everyone on fire, OK?
29. EXTREMELY tall candles are EXTREMELY elegant.
Or maybe just terrifying?
30. Never again get a mouthful of wax in your cake: fruit + wicks = fruit candles!
Here’s how to make them.
31. Does your birthday person love banana splits? Go ahead, put one on top of a cake!
Here’s how to make this behemoth.
32. This is the ultimate cake for a chess nerd’s birthday.
It takes a little doing, but it looks sooooo coooool. Instructions here.
33. ALERT ALERT ALERT there are balls of cookie dough inside this cake, which is also covered with cookies.
So much better than those “cookie cakes” people used to bring to school, like, who do you even think you’re fooling, you stupid huge cookie. Get the recipe here.
34. For the girly girl (or guy) in your life: pink frosting, sprinkles, and tiny ballerinas.
35. Win hearts and blow minds by hiding candy in an awesome secret piñata cake.