Instagram celebration cakes
Food and Drink

Try Instagram‘s current favourite cake trend with this 9-step guide

Marie Antoinette cakes are what everyone is eating on Instagram right now. Learn how to decorate these outrageous, pastel cakes like a pro with this guide.

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The foodies of Instagram love a good cake. From Ave Mario’s gelato tower, to brownie postal boxes and even fake cakes used for decoration, they just look good in the small squares of our feeds.

The latest cake trend to takeover Instagram is well-suited to the photo-sharing app. Its defining features are key components of many Instagram trends past and present: it’s colourful (usually incorporating pastels), it’s over the top (more really is more with this cake) and it is often iced with a witty slogan.

I’m talking about what is popularly known as a Marie Antoinette cake. It’s feminine, kitsch and a little bit tacky – the kind of cake an 80s teenager would dream of for her sixteenth birthday party – but, somehow, it’s pretty cool too. In fact, one of these very cakes made it to a recent cover of Stylist.

So how do you make one of these gloriously camp cakes for yourself? We’ve recruited the help of an expert baker, who specialises in creating these very cakes, to share her tips and tutorial with you. 

Olivia Hill started making pastel celebration cakes at the start of lockdown in 2020 and she now makes them professionally as her full-time job.

“I started seeing these cakes last year, mostly being made in Japan,” Olivia says. “They were once considered dated but they have had a real rebirth – people love the vintage, extra style.”

Olivia tends to make a plain victoria sponge for her non-tiered pastel celebration cakes but you can create a cake in whatever flavour you would like, as long as it is circular. Here are her instructions and tips on how to decorate your cake.

What you will need to decorate a pastel celebration cake

  • Buttercream (around 300g of buttercream is suitable for a 6 inch cake)
  • Food dye of your choice
  • Palette knife
  • Cake scraper
  • Open star nozzle
  • Closed star nozzle
  • Leaf piping tip (optional)
  • Small circle nozzle tip (optional, for writing)
  • Decorations like cherries (optional)

How to make a pastel celebration cake

  1. Apply a crumb coat (a layer of icing to help make your second layer of icing look smooth) of buttercream all over your cake using a cake scraper and a palette knife.
  2. Put your cake in the fridge for 30 minutes to let the buttercream set.
  3. Take your buttercream and food dye in the colour of your choice. This buttercream will be used for the base layer of the cake.
  4. After 30 minutes, apply your base coat buttercream all over your cake using the palette knife and cake scraper. Try and get it at smooth as possible.
  5. Separate your buttercream into two bowls and add different food colourings to each. You will be using these to decorate your cake with. 
  6. Start off with any details you want to add on the side of the cake. To create frills and drop strings, attach an open star or closed star nozzle to your piping bag and pipe your buttercream through it onto the side of the cake.
  7. From there, you can add details like flowers using a leaf piping tip.
  8. If you want to include a message on the top of your cake, add a small circle nozzle tip to your piping bag and handwrite the message in curly handwriting. Hold the piping bag close to the tip to help you with precision.
  9. You can then add any decorations. These cakes are often decorated with cherries.
Marie antoinette Cake
Marie Antoinette cakes
marie antoinette cake
A birthday cake using pink and purple pastel colours, Two of Olivia's pastel cakes, A signature design with cherries

Olivia’s expert tips for creating a pastel celebration cake

Limit your colours

While these cakes are colourful, they look chic because they tend to only incorporate two or three colours and they are often tonal. Try and choose either all vibrant colours or all pastel colours, to ensure they come together well.

“You should also add white layers throughout the icing, as this will help to pull everything together,” Olivia says.

Don’t overthink it

Part of the joy of these cakes is that they look homemade, especially when it comes to the handwriting. “Don’t worry too much about everything being neat and don’t spend too long on any details,” Olivia advises. “You want the process to be fun and fluid designs work better than those that have been obsessed over in this case.”

Olivia adds that you can simply scrape designs off and start again, if you need to, so there’s really no need to worry about trying to get it perfect on your first go. 

Establish your own style

Social media is great but don’t compare your cakes to anyone elses – the more personal they are, the better,” Olivia says. Instead, she suggests that you should try and establish your own style, getting creative when you add frills and details, opting for designs that you might have never seen before. 

  • Olivia Hill, baker

    Olivia Hill, baker
    Olivia Hill started baking during lockdown in 2020

    Olivia Hill is the founder of the postal bakery service, Bakes By Olivia. She has become known for her pastel designs and witty slogans.

Images: Olivia Hill