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How to make a painted buttercream cake

Seriously impress this Mother's Day by decorating a showstopping three-layered cake with pretty painted buttercream. This colourful icing technique is easier than it looks - follow our step-by-step recipe to learn how to paint a beautiful bouquet, ready for the whole family to share. Don't forget to take a handy screenshot of our ingredients list at the bottom before you go shopping!

  1. Make the cake

    Preheat the oven to gas 3, 170°C, fan 150°C. Grease and line 3 x 20cm cake tins with nonstick baking paper. In a large mixing bowl, beat together 350g unsalted butter, 2 tsp vanilla extract and 350g caster sugar using an electric whisk until light and fluffy. Gradually add 6 beaten eggs, beating well between additions, until fully incorporated. Carefully fold in 350g self-raising flour using a large metal spoon until just combined.

    Make the cake
  2. Bake the cake

    Divide the batter evenly between the tins and bake for 30-35 mins or until golden and a skewer inserted into the centre of each cake comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tins for 5 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. If necessary, trim the tops of cakes to make them completely level.

    Bake the cake
  3. Make the buttercream

    For the buttercream, blitz 240g unsalted butter and 160g vegetable fat together in a food processor until smooth. Add 800g icing sugar and pulse until blended.

    Spread a spoonful of buttercream into the middle of a cake board or turntable to stop the cake moving around. Place a cake on the serving plate and top with 100g of the buttercream. Spread with 1 tbsp of strawberry jam, then top with the second sponge, repeat and top with the third sponge.

    Use 350g of the buttercream to crumb-coat the cake by applying a thin layer of icing around the entire side and top of the cake. Smooth and remove any excess icing with a palette knife. Chill for 15 mins until firm. Repeat this process to create a second, thicker layer of buttercream. Chill until firm. 

    Make the buttercream
  4. Make your colours

    Divide 300g Tesco vanilla frosting between five small bowls. Add ½ tsp Dr Oetker food colouring gel to each bowl to make different colours – we used red, orange, violet, pink and green.

    Make your colours
  5. Paint the roses

    Pick one side of the cake to paint your main ‘bunch’ of flowers. Start with the roses. Dip a small knife in the red frosting and use to make small rounded sweeps curling round each other on the cake until you get a rose shape (wipe the knife clean after each ‘sweep’ to get precise shapes). Repeat to make roses across the cake.

    Paint the roses
  6. Gerberas and daisies

    Next, fill in the gaps with a large orange gerbera and small pink daisy-shaped flowers. For the gerbera, use a paintbrush or small knife to paint straight lines of orange frosting in a star-burst shape. Repeat with the pink frosting to paint smaller shapes for daisies. Add highlights to these shapes by painting lines along the edges of the gerbera and middle of the daisy shapes. Mix a little of the red and green frosting together to make a brown colour and dot in the centre of the gerbera with the paintbrush.

    Gerberas and daisies
  7. Lavender

    Sprigs of lavender are a good shape to paint in a curve around the top of the cake and also to ‘grow up’ from the base. Paint a thin line of green frosting for the lavender stalk. Add a little violet frosting to the tip of a knife and gently press to the side of the line and sweep away keeping the flat side of the knife facing the cake. Repeat either side of the line until you have the desired lavender shape.

    Lavender
  8. Leaves and stalks

    Fill the gaps between the flowers with leaves and stalks. Use a paintbrush to gently swipe green frosting in small sharp motions across the cake.

    Leaves and stalks
  9. Serve

    Continue adding more flowers to complete the cake. Slice and serve!

    Serve
  10. Shopping list

    We've made a handy shopping list so you can get everything you need to make this showstopping cake recipe. Don't forget to screenshot before you go shopping!

    For the cakes:
    350g unsalted butter, softened
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    350g caster sugar
    6 large eggs, lightly beaten
    350g self-raising flour, sifted
    For the filling and coating:
    2 tbsp strawberry jam
    160g vegetable fat
    240g unsalted butter
    800g icing sugar, sifted

    For the decoration:
    300g Tesco vanilla frosting
    ½ tsp Dr Oetker extra strong red food colour gel
    ½ tsp Dr Oetker extra strong orange food colour gel
    ½ tsp Dr Oetker extra strong violet food colour gel
    ½ tsp Dr Oetker extra strong green food colour gel
    ½ tsp Dr Oetker extra strong pink food colour gel