How to Make a Stunning 3D Carnation Cake with Buttercream Frosting


Hi, cake lovers! Welcome to my blog where I share with you my passion for cake decorating. Today, I'm going to show you how to make a 3D carnation cake that will wow your guests with its beauty and elegance. Carnations are one of my favorite flowers because they come in so many colors and have a lovely ruffled texture. They are also easy to make with buttercream and a few piping tips. Let's get started!

What You'll Need

To make this 3D carnation cake, you'll need the following tools and ingredients:

  • 6-inch round cake, baked and cooled (you can use any flavor you like)
  • cake board or plate
  • cake turntable
  • cake leveler or serrated knife
  • small offset spatula
  • large piping bag
  • coupler
  • Piping tips: 134K, 352, and 2 (I used Wilton brand)
  • Buttercream frosting (you can use store-bought or homemade, see recipe below)
  • Gel food coloring in pink, yellow, green, and white (I used Americolor brand)
  • A toothpick

How to Make Buttercream Frosting

If you want to make your own buttercream frosting, here's a simple recipe that I love:

  • 1 cup (226 grams) of unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups (480 grams) of powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tablespoons of heavy cream or milk
  • A pinch of salt

To make the buttercream frosting, follow these steps:

  • In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes.
  • Gradually add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Add the vanilla extract, salt, and heavy cream or milk and beat on high speed until the frosting is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. You can adjust the consistency by adding more cream or milk for a thinner frosting, or more powdered sugar for a thicker frosting.

How to Color the Buttercream Frosting

To color the buttercream frosting, follow these steps:

- Divide the frosting into four bowls: one large bowl for the white frosting, and three small bowls for the pink, yellow, and green frosting.

- Add a few drops of gel food coloring to each bowl and stir well with a toothpick or a spoon until you get the desired shade. You can add more or less coloring depending on how intense you want the color to be. I used pink for the carnations, yellow for the centers, green for the leaves, and white for the background.

- Transfer each color of frosting to a piping bag fitted with a coupler. You don't need to attach a piping tip yet.

How to Level and Crumb Coat the Cake

To level and crumb coat the cake, follow these steps:

- Place the cake on a cake board or plate and put it on a cake turntable.

- Use a cake leveler or a serrated knife to trim off the domed top of the cake and make it flat and even.

- Cut the cake horizontally into two equal layers. You can use a cake leveler or a serrated knife for this step as well.

- Place one layer of cake on the cake board or plate and spread some white frosting on top with a small offset spatula. Make sure to cover the entire surface of the cake layer evenly.

- Place the second layer of cake on top of the first layer and press gently to adhere them together.

- Apply a thin layer of white frosting all over the cake with a small offset spatula. This is called a crumb coat and it helps to seal in the crumbs and create a smooth base for the final coat of frosting.

- Refrigerate the cake for about 15 minutes or until the crumb coat is firm.

How to Pipe Carnations on the Cake

To pipe carnations on the cake, follow these steps:

- Attach tip 134K to one of the piping bags with pink frosting. This tip has a curved opening that creates ruffled petals.

- Hold the piping bag at a 90-degree angle above the cake and squeeze out some frosting to form a small dot in the center. This will be the base of your carnation.

- Move your piping bag slightly away from the center dot and squeeze out more frosting while moving your wrist back and forth in a zigzag motion. This will create the first row of petals around the center dot.

- Repeat the same motion to create more rows of petals around the first row, making them slightly larger and longer as you go. You can make as many rows as you like, depending on how big you want your carnation to be. I made about four rows for each carnation.

- Release the pressure and pull the piping bag away to finish the carnation. You can use a toothpick or a small spatula to gently adjust the shape of the petals if needed.

- Repeat the same steps to pipe more carnations on the top and sides of the cake. You can space them out randomly or arrange them in a pattern. I piped 12 carnations on my cake: six on the top and six on the sides.

- Attach tip 2 to one of the piping bags with yellow frosting. This tip has a small round opening that creates dots.

- Pipe a small dot of yellow frosting in the center of each carnation to add some contrast and detail.

- Attach tip 352 to one of the piping bags with green frosting. This tip has a V-shaped opening that creates leaves.

- Pipe some leaves around each carnation to fill in the gaps and add some greenery. To pipe a leaf, hold the piping bag at a 45-degree angle above the cake and squeeze out some frosting while moving your piping bag away from the flower. Release the pressure and pull the piping bag away to finish the leaf. You can make the leaves as big or as small as you like. I piped two or three leaves for each carnation.

How to Finish the Cake

To finish the cake, follow these steps:

- Use a small offset spatula to smooth out any gaps or rough edges between the carnations and the white frosting.

- Refrigerate the cake for about an hour or until the frosting is firm and set.

- Enjoy your beautiful 3D carnation cake!

Tips and Tricks

Here are some tips and tricks to help you make this 3D carnation cake successfully:

- Make sure your buttercream frosting is at room temperature and has a soft but not runny consistency. If your frosting is too cold, it will be hard to pipe and may crack. If your frosting is too warm, it will be too soft and may droop or melt.

- Use gel food coloring instead of liquid food coloring to color your frosting. Gel food coloring is more concentrated and won't thin out your frosting as much as liquid food coloring.

- Practice piping carnations on a piece of parchment paper or a plate before piping them on the cake. This will help you get familiar with the motion and the pressure needed to create ruffled petals.

- If you make a mistake or don't like how a carnation looks, you can scrape it off with a spatula and start over. Just make sure to wipe off any crumbs from the cake before piping again.

- You can customize this cake by using different colors for the carnations, such as purple, blue, or white. You can also use different tips to create different shapes and sizes of petals, such as tip 104, 127, or 81.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on how to make a 3D carnation cake. This cake is perfect for spring, Mother's Day, birthdays, or any occasion that calls for a lovely floral cake. If you try this recipe, please let me know how it turned out in the comments below. I'd love to see your creations! Happy baking! 😊