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I mean, obviously, I’m gonna say: Yes! This is hands-down the fastest, easiest (and most fun!) way to decorate dummy cakes. (aka styrofoam cakes, faux cakes, fake cakes, or display cakes… many names, same concept 😉)
Hi! In case we’ve not yet met, I’m Kelsie Delisle, a cake decorator turned Sugar Flower Artist. I’ve been creating and selling Sugar Flowers online since 2015 — so I know what to do to provide the reliable, on-time, and sturdy flowers you need for your elegantly decorated cakes.
I also know what to do to make decorating those display cakes way easier.
Lots of trial and error.
Prefer to watch? Here’s the YouTube Video on how to decorate dummy cakes
The Struggle Bus of Styrofoam
I used to really struggle with sticking floral wires into styrofoam cakes. Real cakes have a lot more give to them, so they’re so much easier to decorate with florals.
The problem with the foam cakes is two-fold.
One, if you try to insert the flowers right after you cover them in fondant or icing, the icing is still soft. So when you man-handle the cake (which, tbh, you have to do when you’re trying to insert something into styrofoam) you’re going to mess up the icing.
…Or get fingerprints all up in your smooth fondant.
And two, if you wait a few days for the icing/fondant to dry, then it’s really hard to put the wire stems into the foam! There’s this thick, dry, sugar barrier between your flower and the cake!
Finally, I found a solution. It’s a little messy, but in the long run, you’ll save a ton of time.
The Easy Method to Decorate Styrofoam Dummy Cakes
This does require you to plan out a bit in advance how you want your cake decorated.
What really helps me envision my cake ahead of time is by sketching up a drawing on Procreate to get my ideas out of my head and onto paper (or an iPad screen lol).
Before we decorate our dummy cakes, we’ll do…
The Prep Work
This is a trick I learned from Maggie Austin: preassemble little bouquets of flowers before you start putting them onto the cake. I find that the smaller flowers and leaves are more less to break when adding them in a group to the arrangements.
By creating bigger groupings, the flowers feel more stable (and safer) when inserted into the cake. The smaller leaves and blossoms really do make or break (no pun intended) a design!
Even though this step is a little time-consuming upfront, when you make the boutonnières ahead of time, it’s so much faster to style the cake. And you can be sure you’ve got the filler you need to cover any gaps. (bonus → it’s easier to hide a broken petal or two!)
Protip! → The key is to make sure that the main stem of your little bouquets is not more than .5” in diameter, so it fits into your smoothie straw.
Your Next Steps
So far, you’ve sketched out your design and created some little bouquets to put into the cake. Now is the time to get messy!
(I said it would be fun, remember?! 😋)
I recommend drilling all of the holes first because the flying styrofoam bits make a huge mess. Pro tip: be sure you have a trash can and a broom (or vacuum) nearby.
Be sure to angle your holes toward the middle of your dummy cakes. This way the cake will be the most stable. If you have too many straws stuck right into the edge of the cake, they might compromise the structural integrity! (or so my professional engineer husband tells me… also I can say with 100% certainty that this holds true for real cakes!!!)
After I drill the holes, I knock out as much of the excess styrofoam bits as I can over the trashcan. Next up: inserting the smoothie straw. I cut the straws to the depth of the hole, or just a little bit shorter. Especially if I’m using a bright-colored straw, cutting it shorter helps the straw not show in the final design.
The smoothie straws might seem like an unnecessary extra step… But trust me, they help! The straws keep the little foam bits from getting in your way as you decorate your dummy cakes.
The Grand Finale
And then… add those flower bouquets!
I frequently re-style and redesign my display cakes to show off new Sugar Flower designs. This technique also makes it very easy to redo the flowers during my mini photoshoots. I just pull the little bouquets out of the straws and slide in a new one!
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