How to Decorate a Store Bought Sheet Cake

Decorating a store bought sheet cake allows you to add a personal touch and showcase your creativity, transforming it from a generic dessert into a unique masterpiece. In this article, we will explore the various reasons why you might want to decorate a store bought sheet cake and provide step-by-step instructions on how to do so.

Whether it’s for a birthday party, anniversary celebration, or any other special occasion, decorating a store bought sheet cake can elevate your presentation and impress your guests.

One of the main advantages of using a store bought sheet cake as your canvas is the convenience it offers. Store bought cakes are easily accessible and save you valuable time in the kitchen. By learning how to decorate them yourself, you can create a customized dessert without having to worry about baking from scratch. Not only will this make your life easier, but it also opens up endless possibilities for creativity.

Adding decorations to a store bought sheet cake allows you to infuse it with your own personal style and flair. It gives you the opportunity to express yourself artistically and make the cake truly unique.

From simple designs to intricate patterns, there are countless ways to decorate that allow you to reflect the theme or message of the occasion. Whether you’re looking to create an elegant centerpiece or a whimsical delight, decorating a store bought sheet cake gives you full control over its appearance.

In the following sections of this article, we will guide you through the process of gathering supplies, preparing the cake, choosing a design, basic decorating techniques, adding color and flair, personalizing the cake, utilizing advanced techniques, troubleshooting common challenges, and finally displaying and serving your beautifully decorated creation. Let’s dive in and discover the joy of turning a store bought sheet cake into an edible work of art.

Gathering the Supplies

Essential Tools and Ingredients

To decorate a store bought sheet cake, you will need a few essential tools and ingredients. Here is a list of items you’ll need to gather before getting started:

  1. Frosting: Choose your favorite frosting flavor, whether it’s buttercream, cream cheese, or chocolate ganache. You can either make your own from scratch or purchase pre-made frosting from the store.
  2. Spatula: A spatula will be essential for spreading and smoothing the frosting onto your cake.
  3. Offset spatula: An offset spatula is a helpful tool for creating smooth edges and even layers of frosting.
  4. Piping bags: These disposable or reusable bags are necessary if you plan on piping any designs onto your cake.
  5. Decorating tips: Invest in a variety of decorating tips to achieve different designs such as rosettes, stars, or writing scripts.
  6. Food coloring: If you want to add vibrant colors to your cake, have food coloring gel or liquid on hand.
  7. Palette knife or bench scraper: This tool helps in achieving sharp edges and a clean finish on your frosted cake.

Optional Embellishments to Consider

In addition to the essentials listed above, there are optional embellishments you might want to consider for decorating your store bought sheet cake:

  1. Edible decorations: Sprinkles, edible glitter, pearls, or confetti can add sparkle and visual appeal to your cake.
  2. Fresh fruit or flowers: Depending on the occasion and theme of your cake, adding fresh fruit slices or edible flowers can create an elegant touch.
  3. Wafer paper designs: Wafer paper sheets with printed designs can be cut out into various shapes and applied to the cake for an instant decorative effect.
  4. Edible ink pens: These pens allow you to draw directly onto the surface of the cake with edible ink, offering a fun way to add personalized messages or designs.
  5. Fondant accents: If you’re comfortable working with fondant, you can create 3D figures, bows, or other intricate decorations to enhance your cake.

It’s important to have all your supplies ready before starting the process of decorating your store bought sheet cake. This will ensure that you have everything you need within reach and allow for a seamless decorating experience.

Preparing the Cake

Before you start decorating your store bought sheet cake, it is important to properly prepare it to ensure the best results. By following a few tips and techniques, you can make sure that your cake is level, cooled, and ready for decoration.

The first step in preparing your store bought sheet cake is to allow it to cool completely. This ensures that the frosting will adhere properly and prevents any melting or shifting of decorations. It is recommended to let the cake cool on a wire rack for about an hour before moving on to the next step.

Once the cake has cooled, it is important to level the top surface. This can be done using a serrated knife or a cake leveler. Simply hold the knife parallel to the surface of the cake and carefully remove any excess or uneven areas. This step helps create a flat canvas for decorating and allows for more even frosting application.

After leveling, it is beneficial to apply a crumb coat to the entire cake. A crumb coat is a thin layer of frosting that helps seal in any loose crumbs and creates a smooth base for further decoration.

To apply a crumb coat, spread a thin layer of frosting over the entire surface of the cake using an offset spatula. Once applied, refrigerate the cake for about 15-20 minutes to allow the crumb coat to set before proceeding with further decoration.

Prepping your store bought sheet cake by cooling, leveling, and applying a crumb coat ensures that your decorations will go on smoothly and result in a polished final product. Taking these steps also helps prolong the freshness of your creation. Now that your cake is ready, let’s move on to deciding on a design theme for your store bought sheet cake.

– Wire rack – Cake frosting
– Serrated knife or cake leveler – Offset spatula
– Offset spatula – Optional cake embellishments (sprinkles, candies, edible flowers)

Choosing a Design

Choosing a design is an important step in decorating a store bought sheet cake. The design theme will set the tone and aesthetic of the cake, making it more visually appealing and suitable for the occasion. There are many popular design ideas and inspirations to consider when deciding on the decoration theme for your sheet cake.

One popular option is to match the theme of the cake with the occasion or event it is being used for. For example, if you are decorating a sheet cake for a birthday party, you can consider using designs related to the person’s age, hobbies, or interests. For a baby shower, you can incorporate baby-themed designs such as rattles, diapers, or baby booties.

Another idea is to choose a design that reflects your personal style or preferences. If you have a favorite color or pattern, you can incorporate it into the cake design. You can also choose designs that represent your personality or showcase your creativity.

When selecting a design, it’s important to consider the difficulty level and your skill level in decorating. If you are new to cake decorating, it might be best to start with simple designs such as basic borders, floral patterns, or polka dots. As you gain more experience and confidence, you can gradually move on to more intricate designs like character cakes or themed landscapes.

Design IdeasInspirations
Birthday-themed designs – Age-specific decorations (e.g., “Over the Hill” theme)
Baby-themed designs – Rattles, diapers, baby animals
Personal style-inspired designs – Favorite colors, patterns or hobbies
Simple and beginner-friendly designs – Basic borders, floral patterns, polka dots
Intricate and advanced designs – Character cakes, themed landscapes

Basic Decorating Techniques

Frosting Techniques

One of the first steps in decorating a store bought sheet cake is choosing a frosting technique that suits your design and personal style. There are several popular options to consider: smooth, textured, and piped designs.

For a smooth finish, start by applying a thin layer of frosting all over the cake using an offset spatula or icing smoother. This is called a crumb coat and it helps seal in any loose crumbs before adding the final layer of frosting.

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Once the crumb coat has set, apply another layer of frosting evenly across the cake, smoothing it out as you go. To achieve an ultra-smooth finish, dip your spatula or knife in hot water before each swipe.

If you prefer a textured look, try using different tools to create patterns or designs on the cake’s surface. For example, you can use a fork to create lines or press a comb into the frosting for a wavy effect. Experiment with various textures until you achieve your desired look.

Piped designs involve using different types of icing tips and piping bags to create intricate shapes and borders on the cake. This technique is great for adding decorative elements such as flowers, rosettes, or written messages. Fill a piping bag with your desired icing color and attach your chosen tip. Squeeze gently to pipe out the design onto the cake, applying even pressure for consistent results.

Using Icing Tips and Piping Bags

When it comes to creating stunning designs on your store bought sheet cake, having the right tools can make all the difference. Icing tips and piping bags are essential for achieving professional-looking decorations.

There are various types of icing tips available, each designed to create different effects. Some common ones include round tips (for writing and outlining), star tips (for flowers and rosettes), leaf tips (for foliage), and petal tips (for ruffled designs). It’s a good idea to have a variety of tips on hand to suit different design ideas.

Piping bags come in different materials such as disposable plastic or reusable cloth. Disposable bags are convenient for one-time use and can be easily discarded, while reusable bags are more environmentally friendly. Whichever type you choose, make sure the bag is fitted securely with the icing tip to prevent any mishaps during decorating.

To fill a piping bag, place the tip inside the bag and fold down the edges to create a cuff. Spoon your desired icing into the bag, being mindful not to overfill it. Twist the top of the bag tightly to secure the icing and apply gentle pressure to pipe out your design.

Next Steps

Now that you have learned some basic frosting techniques and how to use icing tips and piping bags, you’re ready to move on to adding color and flair to your store bought sheet cake. In the next section, we will explore different ways to enhance your cake with vibrant colors and unique accents.

Whether you’re planning a festive birthday cake or an elegant wedding dessert, these techniques will help you create a stunning centerpiece that reflects your personal touch.

Adding Color and Flair

When it comes to decorating a store bought sheet cake, adding color and flair can truly elevate the overall look and appeal of your creation. By incorporating vibrant colors and unique accents, you can transform a plain sheet cake into a visually stunning centerpiece for any occasion. Here are some tips and techniques to enhance your store bought sheet cake with color and flair:

  1. Coloring Icing: One of the easiest ways to add color to your cake is through icing. Start with plain white icing and use food coloring gel or liquid to create the desired colors. Begin with small amounts of coloring and gradually add more until you achieve the desired shade. Remember, you can always make a color darker but it’s difficult to lighten it.
  2. Different Coloring Techniques: There are various techniques you can use to apply colored icing onto your cake. One technique is called the “ombre effect,” where you use different shades of one color to create a gradient effect on your frosting. Another technique is “marbling,” where you swirl different colors together for a beautiful marbled look.
  3. Incorporating Edible Decorations: In addition to colored icing, there are many other edible decorations you can use to add flair to your sheet cake. Sprinkles are a popular choice, as they come in various shapes, sizes, and colors. You can also use candies, such as chocolate chips or M&M’s, to create patterns or designs on your cake. Edible flowers like pansies or violets can be delicately placed on top for an elegant touch.

To ensure that the colors and decorations adhere well to your store bought sheet cake, make sure that the frosting is slightly tacky before applying them. If needed, lightly mist the surface of the cake with water using a spray bottle before adding decorations.

Adding color and flair allows you to customize your store bought sheet cake according to any theme or occasion. Whether it’s a birthday party, baby shower, or holiday event, using vibrant colors and unique accents will make your cake stand out and impress your guests. Let your creativity shine through as you enhance your store bought sheet cake with color and flair.

Personalizing the Cake

Adding a personal touch to a store bought sheet cake is a wonderful way to make it more special and unique. Whether you’re celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or any other special occasion, personalizing the cake with thoughtful decorations can elevate the overall presentation and show your creativity. Here are some tips for adding a personalized touch to your store bought sheet cake:

  1. Writing messages with icing or piping: One of the simplest ways to add a personal touch to a cake is by writing a message on it. You can use icing or piping bags with different shaped tips to write names, wishes, or even short quotes. Practice your lettering on paper before attempting it directly on the cake for better control.
  2. Creating edible photo toppers or custom cake toppers: Another great way to personalize a store bought sheet cake is by adding edible photo toppers or custom cake toppers. Edible photo toppers can be made by printing photos onto edible paper using food coloring ink and then placing them on top of the frosted cake.
    Custom cake toppers made from fondant or gum paste can be molded into shapes that reflect the occasion or interests of the person you’re celebrating.

Adding a personal touch through decorations not only makes the cake more meaningful but also shows your thoughtfulness in making the celebration extra special. With these tips, you’ll be able to create a customized store bought sheet cake that will surely impress everyone.

Writing messagesUsing icing/piping bags
Edible photo toppersPrinting photos onto edible paper
Custom cake toppersMolding fondant/gum paste

Advanced Techniques

Fondant Decoration Techniques

One way to really take your store bought sheet cake to the next level is by using fondant to create intricate decorations. Fondant is a smooth, pliable icing-like substance that can be rolled out and draped over cakes to create a flawless finish. Here are some advanced fondant decoration techniques you can try:

  1. Covering the entire sheet cake: Roll out a large piece of fondant and carefully drape it over the cake, smoothing it down with your hands or a fondant smoother. Trim away any excess fondant.
  2. Creating shapes and figures: Fondant can be molded into various shapes and figures to adorn your sheet cake. Use cookie cutters or specialized fondant molds to create flowers, animals, or other desired shapes.
  3. Texturing fondant: You can use textured mats or impression tools to add texture and detail to the fondant surface. This can include quilted patterns, lace designs, or even realistic woodgrain effects.
  4. Piping with fondant: Fondant can also be piped onto the cake just like buttercream icing. Fill a piping bag fitted with a small round tip with softened fondant and pipe intricate designs such as lace borders or delicate lettering.

Creating Intricate Patterns or Designs with Stencils and Edible Paints

Another way to achieve advanced decorating skills is by using stencils and edible paints to create intricate patterns or designs on your store bought sheet cake. This technique allows for precise detailing and adds a professional touch to your creation. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Selecting a stencil: Choose a stencil with a design that suits your theme or occasion. From floral patterns to geometric shapes, there are endless options available.
  2. Securing the stencil: Gently lay the stencil onto the cake and press it down to ensure it stays in place while you work.
  3. Applying edible paint: Dip a small paintbrush into edible paint or food coloring thinned with a clear alcohol, such as vodka. Carefully dab or brush the paint over the openings in the stencil to transfer the design onto the cake.
  4. Precision touch-ups: Use a fine-tipped brush or toothpick to make any necessary touch-ups or adjustments to the design once the stencil is removed.

By incorporating advanced techniques like using fondant and stencils with edible paints, you can elevate your store bought sheet cake and impress everyone with your artistic skills. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new designs – let your creativity shine.

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Troubleshooting and Tips

Decorating a store bought sheet cake can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it can also come with its fair share of challenges. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced decorator, it’s helpful to be prepared for any hiccups along the way. Here are some common issues that may arise when decorating store bought sheet cakes, along with tips on how to overcome them:

  1. Dealing with frosting consistency issues: One of the most common challenges when decorating a cake is getting the right consistency for your frosting. If your frosting is too thick, it can be difficult to spread smoothly on the cake. On the other hand, if it’s too thin, it may not hold its shape when piped or can cause decorations to slide off.
    To fix thick frosting, add small amounts of milk or water until you reach the desired consistency. If your frosting is too thin, gradually add powdered sugar until it thickens up.
  2. Fixing smudges or mistakes while decorating: Mistakes happen to even the most experienced decorators. If you get a smudge on your cake or make a mistake while piping, don’t panic. There are several ways to fix these mishaps.
    For smudges, gently scrape off the icing around the area with a clean spatula and smooth out with fresh icing. If you make a mistake while piping, carefully remove the incorrect design using a toothpick or clean brush dipped in water before re-piping over it.
  3. Ensuring proper storage and transportation: Once your store bought sheet cake is decorated, it’s important to take proper steps to preserve its appearance during storage and transportation. To keep the decorations intact, cover the cake loosely with plastic wrap or place it in a large cake container with high sides.
    Avoid touching the decorations directly as they may get smudged or damaged. When transporting the cake, it’s best to keep it on a flat surface like a sturdy cutting board or cake carrier to prevent any shifts in position.

By being aware of these common challenges and arming yourself with these helpful tips, you can navigate any obstacles that come your way while decorating a store bought sheet cake. Remember to be patient and enjoy the process – after all, the end result will be a beautifully decorated cake that is sure to impress.

Displaying and Serving

Presenting the Cake on a Decorative Platter or Cake Stand

Once you have successfully decorated your store bought sheet cake, it’s time to showcase it in all its glory. One way to elevate the presentation is by placing the cake on a decorative platter or cake stand. This adds an elegant touch and allows guests to admire your creative masterpiece.

When choosing a platter or stand, consider the theme of your decoration and select one that complements it. For example, if you have a garden-themed cake, a rustic wooden board would be an excellent choice, whereas a sleek and modern cake stand would be suitable for a minimalist design.

Tips for Cutting and Serving the Cake to Preserve the Aesthetics

Cutting and serving a beautifully decorated store bought sheet cake requires some finesse to maintain its aesthetics. Here are some tips on how to do it:

  1. Use a sharp knife: A sharp knife will ensure clean cuts without smudging or ruining the design.
  2. Wipe the knife clean between cuts: To prevent different colors of frosting from mixing or creating smudges, wipe off any excess frosting from the knife before making each cut.
  3. Serve with precision: Gently slide a spatula under each slice to lift it without disturbing the decorations on top.
  4. Consider using serving guides: If you want evenly-sized slices, use toothpicks as markers on the sides of the cake before cutting.
  5. Serve at room temperature: Store bought sheet cakes are often refrigerated, so allow them to come to room temperature before serving for better flavor and texture.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your beautifully decorated store bought sheet cake maintains its visual appeal even after it’s been cut and served.

Avoid common mistakes

While displaying and serving your store bought sheet cake, there are some common mistakes you should avoid. These include:

  1. Handling the cake too much: Excessive touching or moving of the cake can smudge or damage the decorations. Be careful when transferring the cake to the platter or stand and avoid unnecessary handling.
  2. Cutting too soon: Ensure that your cake is fully set and cooled before cutting into it, as a warm cake may crumble or lose its shape.
  3. Rushing the presentation: Take your time to arrange the platter or stand, ensuring that it enhances the overall look of the decorated cake. Rushing may lead to an unbalanced presentation.

Remember, enjoying and savoring your beautifully decorated store bought sheet cake is just as important as creating it. Take pride in your creation and share it with others, knowing that you have transformed a simple store bought cake into a unique and personalized masterpiece.


Decorating a store bought sheet cake allows you to showcase your creativity and add a personal touch to any celebration. Throughout this article, we have explored various tips and techniques for decorating a store bought sheet cake, from gathering the supplies to adding color and flair. Now, in conclusion, it is important to remember the joy that comes from the process of decorating and the freedom to let your imagination run wild.

By following the step-by-step instructions provided in this article, you can confidently prepare and decorate your store bought sheet cake. Whether you choose to use basic frosting techniques or take on more advanced skills like fondant decoration or stenciling, there are endless possibilities for creating a stunning centerpiece for any occasion.

Throughout the decorating process, don’t forget to enjoy yourself. Decorating a store bought sheet cake should be a fun and fulfilling experience. Embrace the opportunity to showcase your creativity and make something truly unique. Your efforts will surely be appreciated by all who see and taste your beautifully decorated creation.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you decorate a sheet cake for beginners?

Decorating a sheet cake for beginners can be a fun and creative endeavor. Firstly, start by frosting the entire cake with a smooth layer of buttercream or whipped cream. Next, consider adding sprinkles, edible glitter, or colored sugar on top to give it a festive and eye-catching look.

If you want to take it up a notch, you can use piping bags and different tips to create patterns, shapes, or even write messages on the cake. Another beginner-friendly option is using edible decorations such as fresh fruit slices, chocolate shavings, or edible flowers to add an elegant touch. Remember to keep practicing and experimenting with different techniques and designs.

Can I decorate a store bought cake?

Absolutely! Decorating a store-bought cake is a common practice that allows for personalization while saving time and effort in baking from scratch. Firstly, choose a plain unadorned cake that will serve as your canvas. You can level the top surface of the cake if necessary for smoother decorating.

Before adding any decorations, ensure the cake is completely cooled down to prevent melting icing or sliding toppings. You can then use various techniques like applying buttercream frosting using a spatula or piping bag to create unique designs or patterns on the cake’s surface. Additionally, consider incorporating edible flowers, colorful fruits, chocolate curls, or even fondant cutouts as embellishments to elevate its visual appeal.

How do you make a shop bought cake look good?

Making a shop-bought cake look good primarily involves enhancing its appearance rather than altering its existing design extensively. One simple way is by adding texture and depth through strategic decoration choices.

Start by ensuring the cake is leveled and iced smoothly all around with buttercream or ganache before proceeding further. Next, consider incorporating additional layers of flavors by spreading thin layers of flavored syrups between each layer of the store-bought cake for added moistness and taste variety.

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