How to Decorate Your Own Berry Cake For Beginners

I have been dreaming of decorating a berry cake. Once I have something in my head that I want to try to create, it runs on a constant loop in my head until I try it. Boy am I glad I tried this idea! I love how it turned out and was shocked at how easy it was! In the post, you’ll learn how to decorate your own berry cake: for beginners. This berry cake is the perfect addition to any special occasion. Everything from birthday parties, to backyard barbeques and even patriotic holidays such as Memorial Day or the 4th of July.

how to decorate your own berry cake for beginners

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While there is nothing wrong with a grocery store bought cake, sometimes making your own cake is best. Especially when it looks as pretty as this berry cake. The best part about this cake is that anyone can make it – even a beginner (like me). Trust me, you do not need any skill level. Believe it or not, this is my very first layer cake.

You should know I come from a family of great bakers. My grandmother was a great baker (and cook), my aunt is the baker for the dessert menu at a local restaurant and my mom is always whipping up something delicious. I think that gene must skip a generation because I am a much better cook than I am a baker. I’m more a taste and see, “go with the flow” type in the kitchen. When it comes to baking, you really need to follow the recipe. While I can bake, it’s just not as enjoyable for me as cooking. I also don’t trust myself around sweets, so there’s that. You won’t see a ton of baked goods on my blog as a result. I have fond memories of me as a kid with my mom making batches of Rice Krispie treats. We would just eat the mixture by the spoonful. Ya’ll, it didn’t even make it to the pan. Did it get cut into squares? Absolutely not. We would also make a strawberry angel food cake dessert. We would mix it up in a big bowl and sit in a big arm chair together and devour it. One downside of working from home is that I don’t have an office full of hungry colleagues! 🙂 Thankfully, I brought this cake over to a friend’s house to enjoy after dinner.

vanilla cake with vanilla frosting and berries on top

HOW TO DECORATE YOUR OWN BERRY CAKE (FOR BEGINNERS)

In this Instagram video, I share a visual quick step by step instruction on how to decorate this cake. You won’t believe how easy it is!

ALTERNATIVES TO BERRIES

As you can see by the photos in the post, I used a combination of strawberries, blackberries and raspberries. Those three berries are my personal faves, but feel free to use any berries you like. You may also want to consider other fruit, or layering in some jam such as raspberry jam or strawberry jam between the layers. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. The use of cookies or macaroons are often used when decorating a cake. The sky is the limit, so use your imagination.

BOX MIX VS HOMEMADE

You are welcome to use any vanilla cake recipe you like! I used a store bought box of vanilla cake mix, but made the following adjustments to the package instructions.

1. Add 1 extra egg.

2. Use dairy instead of water (same measurement). I used half and half here, but you can use milk too.

3. Use butter instead of oil (same measurement).

4. Add 1 tablespoon almond extract.

BEST FROSTING TO USE

I’m not going to get in the habit of telling you what to do, but please consider making your own buttercream frosting. Store bought canned frosting will have the consistency you need, but the taste just doesn’t compare to that of homemade. Speaking of consistency…you will want the consistency of your homemade frosting to be sort of tacky. The frosting is essentially the glue that is going to hold all the berries in place.

two tiered berry cake

STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS

1. Mix together cake batter. As I mentioned above, you can use any vanilla cake recipe you like! You can also make a store bought box cake mix as per the package instructions, or substitute some (or all) of the ingredients above, like I did. You may also want to add 1/2 cup of sour cream. I did not have any the day I made the cake, or I would have added that in addition to the above substitutions. 

2. Grease your pans really well! You want the finished cake to pop out of the pans easily once they have cooled. You can do this by greasing the pan with butter and dusting with flour OR you can use a baking spray with flour like Pam. Simply spray the pans really well before pouring the cake batter into the pans. I prefer the latter. The last thing you want is your cake sticking to the inside of your pan. Trust me when I say, I have ruined cakes because I didn’t grease my pan well enough! I used 1 box of cake mix which fit perfectly between two round, 9 inch cake pans. Each pan should be filled approximately half full. If you use really small cake pans, you might be able to make 3 layers, if desired. This will vary based on the size of your pan. 

3. Bake your cake according to package instructions, but watch the time carefully. The box I used called for baking 29-33 minutes. I checked mine at 24 minutes and they were DONE. I wish I would have checked at 20 minutes. Bake times will vary based on which box of cake mix you use. Ovens also vary in cook time. Some ovens just cook quicker. My oven always tends to cook quicker than recipes typically call for. What can I say? It’s one of the great baking mysteries. 🙂 

4. When cakes are done, allow them to cool completely before attempting to flip out of the pan. If you’ve greased your pans well, they should pop right out. But again, allow them to cool first.

5. Make frosting.

Beat together the following:

1 stick butter, slightly softened

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 cups powdered sugar

1-2 tablespoons half & half (approximately)

You can use a KitchenAid stand mixer for your frosting or you can simply use a hand mixer. I used a hand mixer. Don’t tell anyone, but I don’t even currently own a stand mixer. You will want the butter slightly softened, which basically means somewhere in between cold (refrigerated) and room temperature. You do not want to use melted butter. Mix the butter and vanilla together until combined. Add powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon of half & half. Continue mixing until combined. Continue adding half & half, 1 teaspoon at a time, until you get it to the consistency you want. For this cake, you’ll want the frosting to be sticky, or tacky. It is what’s going to serve as the “glue” to hold the berries on the cake. For other recipes, you may want the consistency to be a bit thinner.

6. This is the part of the tutorial where I’m going to remind you that I’m not a pro baker. This tutorial is for beginners from a beginner. That being said, I don’t have the proper cake frosting tools, so I just used the back of a spoon and a knife to spread the frosting on the cake. All I can say is it got the job done. You will want frosting in between each layer and around the entire outside of the cake. Remember to reserve some frosting as you’ll need it to “glue” the berries on the cake. The goal for the frosting was to resemble the naked cake trend. Think rustic, not perfect.

7. Using a small knife, spread a dot of frosting on each berry and place on the side of the cake one by one. You can decide how you want the appearance of your berry cake. Don’t be afraid to stray from my design. For example, you may wish to cover your entire cake in berries. I personally wanted it to look like the berries were tumbling off the cake organically, so I stuck them in all different directions as I placed them on the cake. You can get a good visual of this part of the tutorial by watching this video. 

layered berry cake with strawberries, raspberries and blackberries

Berry Cake

This berry cake is sure to elevate any special occasion!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 8

Instructions
 

  • Mix together cake batter. You can make any vanilla cake recipe you like! You can also make a store bought box cake mix as per the package instructions, or substitute some (or all) of the ingredients (below) like I did. You may also want to add 1/2 cup of sour cream. I did not have any the day I made the cake, or I would have added that in addition to the above substitutions. 
    1. Add 1 extra egg.
    2. Use dairy instead of water (same measurement). I used half and half here, but you can use milk too.
    3. Use butter instead of oil (same measurement).
    4. Add 1 tablespoon almond extract.
  • Grease your pans really well! You want the finished cake to pop out of the pans easily once they have cooled. You can do this by greasing the pan with butter and dusting with flour OR you can use a baking spray with flour like Pam. Simply spray the pans really well before pouring the cake batter into the pans. I prefer the latter. The last thing you want is your cake sticking to the inside of your pan. Trust me when I say, I have ruined cakes because I didn't grease my pan well enough! I used 1 box of cake mix which fit perfectly between two round, 10 inch cake pans. Each pan should be filled approximately half full. If you use really small cake pans, you might be able to make 3 layers, if desired. This will vary based on the size of your pan. 
  • Bake your cake according to package instructions, but watch the time carefully. The box I used called for baking 24-29 minutes. I checked mine at 18 minutes and they were DONE. I wish I would have checked at 16 minutes. Bake times will vary based on which box of cake mix you use. Ovens also vary in cook time. Some ovens just cook quicker. My oven always tends to cook quicker than recipes typically call for. What can I say? It's one of the great baking mysteries. 🙂 
  • When cakes are done, allow them to cool completely before attempting to flip out of the pan. If you've greased your pans well, they should pop right out. But again, allow them to cool first.
  • Make frosting.
    Beat together the following:
    1 stick butter, slightly softened
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    4 cups powdered sugar
    1-2 tablespoons half & half (approximately)
    You can use a KitchenAid stand mixer for your frosting or you can simply use a hand mixer. I used a hand mixer. Don't tell anyone, but I don't even currently own a stand mixer. You will want the butter slightly softened, which basically means somewhere in between cold (refrigerated) and room temperature. You do not want to use melted butter. Mix the butter and vanilla together until combined. Add powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon of half & half. Continue mixing until combined. Continue adding half & half, 1 teaspoon at a time, until you get it to the consistency you want. For this cake, you'll want the frosting to be sticky, or tacky. It is what's going to serve as the "glue" to hold the berries on the cake. For other recipes, you may want the consistency to be a bit thinner.
  • This is the part of the tutorial where I'm going to remind you that I'm not a pro baker. This tutorial is for beginners from a beginner. That being said, I don't have the proper cake frosting tools, so I just used the back of a spoon and a knife to spread the frosting on the cake. All I can say is it got the job done. You will want frosting in between each layer and around the entire outside of the cake. Remember to reserve some frosting as you'll need it to "glue" the berries on the cake. The goal for the frosting was to resemble the naked cake trend. Think rustic, not perfect.
  • Using a small knife, spread a dot of frosting on each berry and place on the side of the cake one by one. You can decide how you want the appearance of your berry cake. Don't be afraid to stray from my design. For example, you may wish to cover your entire cake in berries. I personally wanted it to look like the berries were tumbling off the cake organically, so I stuck them in all different directions as I placed them on the cake.

HOW TO STORE YOUR CAKE

You can see here that I’m displaying my cake on a cake plate. Cake plates can be used for a variety of desserts and baked goods such as macaroons, croissants, muffins and more. They also add visual interest to simple table settings and can be displayed as table centerpieces. If baking the cake in advance, you will want to store in an airtight container or make sure you have a glass dome for your cake plate. Below are some of my favorite cake plates.

how to decorate your own berry cake for beginners

CAKE PLATE OPTIONS

A great starter wood cake stand with glass or acrylic dome and doubles as a punch or dip bowl!

Classic glass cake plate

I love the wood and marble combination on this cake plate!

This cake plate is great if you want a low profile.

The scalloped edges on this cake plate are STUNNING.

I hope this tutorial on how to decorate your own berry cake for beginners was helpful! If you’re hosting soon, you may also want to check out this post for table setting and centerpiece ideas.

-The Chic(ish) Chick

Want to see more ideas like this? Check out my Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest or YouTube pages!

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