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Christmas is RIGHT around the corner and it’s time to start baking for all those gatherings with family and friends coming up! May I present the perfect Christmas dessert to share with loved ones? A two-layer Cranberry Orange Cake smothered in a buttery orange-flavoured Cream Cheese Frosting and decorated with whimsical buttercream-piped designs and speckled with sugared cranberries. Keep reading to see how YOU can create this delicious cake too!
One of my biggest cake decorating dreams came true when the one and only Wilton Cakes reached out to me. They asked if I’d like to be a part of their Christmas Baking campaign and design a Christmas cake using their products. Despite the fact that my husband and I are in the midst of purchasing our first home and going through the excruciatingly slow pain of home renos, how could I ever say no to Wilton Cakes?
I’ve been using their cake tools and decorating products since I first started experimenting with cake decorating years ago. Wilton was incredibly generous and sent me all of the materials I needed–for free–to come up with a signature Flour & Floral Christmas cake. What an honour!
One of my staple decorating techniques has always been piping pretty designs with buttercream frosting so I just knew that my Christmas Cake HAD to incorporate this. However, I’m all about learning new techniques, so I envisioned a cake with gold brush strokes of edible paint. I’d never used edible paint in my life so I could not WAIT to get started, learn something new, and see my vision come to fruition!
- Read THIS for tips on how to make your baking turn out seamlessly! (I highly recommend this!)
- Bake cranberry orange cake layers
- Whip up Cream Cheese Frosting and American Buttercream
- Stack and fill cake layers
- Smooth out cake
- Paint on cake
- Mix buttercream colours and pipe onto cake
- Garnish with sugared cranberries.
Baking The Cranberry Orange Cake
Using two 9″ round cake pans I baked the delicious Cranberry Orange Cake layers using the recipe from Baker By Nature. I just whipped up extra orange cream cheese frosting and used that to fill the middle instead of using cranberry orange marmalade. (Although I’m kicking myself now because that marmalade probably tastes amazing in that cake!) I also decided to make some sugared cranberries, also found on her recipe.
Once the cranberry orange cakes were cooled, I leveled my layers using my Cake Leveler. Trust me, if you want a beautifully straight cake, you NEED to level your cakes–otherwise you’ll run out of frosting trying to even out everything and you’ll just make more work for yourself. No thanks.
Assembling The Layers
Then I took my 10″round cake board and wrapped it with some beautiful gold Fancy-Foil wrap. Confession: This whole time I haven’t been wrapping my cake boards so if you look back at my previous cakes, they’re just sitting on a plain old cardboard round. This Fancy-Foil wrap definitely adds more sophistication to the cake.
I placed my wrapped cake board onto my revolving cake stand and piped a little dollop of frosting into the middle of the cake board. This helps stabilize the bottom cake layer..
Then using my Cake Lifter (you can never be too careful when it comes to building a cake!) I placed the first cake layer onto the center of the board. Some like to smother on their frosting using a spatula, I on the other hand actually like to pipe my frosting on just by cutting an inch sized hole at the end of a 12″ Disposable Piping Bag. I find by piping the frosting on you can create a nice even layer of frosting. If you do decide to put marmalade in between the layers, make sure you create a dam around the edge of the cake layer with frosting so that your marmalade doesn’t seep out the sides. Or else your frosting on the outer edge will have streaks of red marmalade when you go to smooth it out!
Next, I placed my second and final cranberry orange layer on top. I piped the frosting evenly around the top and around the sides of the cake. I used an Offset Spatula to smooth out the frosting on top and then used a Metal Cake Scraper to get the sides completely smooth. To get the cake even smoother, I like to fill a large bowl with hot water, then I dip my scraper into the water which heats up the metal. I wipe off the drips with a paper towel and then go around the cake again. The hot metal scraper melts the frosting a little so it smooths out very nicely!
Painting On The Cake
And now, the fun part! My best part of cake decorating is after the cake has been stacked and smoothed out. It’s just a total blank slate just ready for a splash of beauty and colour! It’s the stage where the imagination goes wild. But at the same time you gotta tame those wild horses because when you add to the cake it’s difficult to remove it.
The paint I used on this cake was from Wilton’s “Edible Metallic Cake Paint Set”. This set comes with five metallic paints in gold, silver, red, green, and copper; I’m already dreaming up all of the ways I could use these gorgeous colours on future cakes. They’re just sooo pretty!
I used the “I Taught Myself Painting on Cakes” product to paint with as it comes with three different sized brushes and a washable paint tray.
Going into it I wasn’t 100% sure how I wanted to paint it…Should I paint the ENTIRE cake GOLD? How about vertical lines? Thick strokes? Thin? The ideas bouncing around in my head were endless. I knew that I wanted to pipe buttercream designs; I didn’t want the cake to look too busy, so I opted to just paint brush strokes here and there. It was SO easy you guys! (I can’t wait to paint on more cakes!!) And when the sunlight hit the metallic gold it shone like crazy!
Coloring The Frosting:
To clarify: the whole cranberry orange cake is smothered in an orange cream cheese frosting because it tastes amazing with the cake itself. However, the piped-designs are made out of a simple American Buttercream! Cream cheese frosting that has that glorious cream-cheesy taste isn’t stiff enough to pipe defined designs. American Buttercream always pipes perfectly.
I whipped up a simple batch of American Buttercream using: 1 cup of softened Unsalted Butter, 1 tsp of vanilla, 4-5 cups of powdered sugar, a dash of salt, and a bit of milk. I whipped it in the stand mixer for a good 4 minutes. Then I divided it evenly into 3 bowls to make the 3 colours of Red, Orange-Red, and Pink-Red:
- First Bowl: A few drops of Red (from Wilton’s Primary Gel Food Coloring Set).
- Second bowl: A few drops of Orange (from Wilton’s Bright Gel Food Coloring Set) + A few drops of the Red.
- Third bowl: A few drops of Magenta (from Wilton’s Bright Gel Food Coloring Set) + A few drops of the Red.
Add drops until you reach your desired shades; start with one drop at a time and stir after each addition so you don’t overdo it.
Piping The Buttercream Frosting:
Once you’re happy with your colours, insert couplers into three 12″ Disposable Piping Bags. I have a piping Bag Cutter from Wilton that fits itself around the coupler, slicing the bag exactly where it needs to be cut. This eliminates the guess-work and the need for scissors! Best invention ever!! (Not to mention, the Bag Cutter Set also comes with brushes to clean piping tips–how have I gone so many years without these amazing inventions?!)
When it comes to piping directly onto a cake, I like to begin with piping the largest designs first using my Wilton 2D tip which you can see in the above photo (the rosette). Lay out your largest designs and then just keep adding each design one by one. A rosette here, a swirl there, a little “booooop”” a “bip” there. (In case you were wondering, that’s me attempting to describe the sound of frosting as it exits the piping bag.) Fill in all the not-so-photogenic spots or empty spaces with frosting from your small tips.
And continuously keep switchin’ up your tips between frosting colours! That’s the beauty of using couplers, it allows you to use different tips with different colours.
And that’s really all there is to it! Also, I was SO excited to finally be able to take a slice out of a cake and photograph it. My layer cakes are always for cake orders so I can never take pictures of the inside magic!
I hope you are feeling extra inspired to bake a Cranberry Orange Christmas Cake of your own! If you bake this cake, tag me on Instagram–I would LOVE to see your creation! And be sure to go to Wilton’s Christmas Page for even more beautiful Christmas baking inspiration. Happy baking my friends, and Merry Christmas! 🙂 P.S- Tell me below the desserts you’re baking this Christmas!!