Make and use a cake stencil

Stenciling onto a cake can make a somewhat ordinary dessert extraordinary.

  • birthday cake with the person’s name on it
  • company occasion with the company logo on the cake
  • holiday dessert with holiday themed stencil on it (like a witch for halloween, or a tannenbaum at christmas)
bay stencil logo on cake

Powdered sugar on a chocolate cake

The highest contrast combination that’s easily made with ingredients you probably already have around the house is powdered white sugar on a chocolate cake. I’ve found that increasing the moisture of the chocolate cake helps it to look darker, thus providing great contrast. Adding sour cream (or yogurt) to a dark chocolate (devil’s food) cake mix is an easy way to make it moister, and darker.

You can also use cocoa powder on a white or yellow cake, although the contrast is not as strong. Letting the cocoa powder fall on a warm, moist cake will cause the cocoa powder to darken a little, which helps. You can also gently mist the cocoa once it’s on the cake to darken the cocoa pattern a little.

Making your circular or rectangular stencil design

For a circular cake top, try a pattern that radiates out from the center to the sides.

For a rectangular sheet cake, any landscape pattern single-layer stencil should work.

Tips for stenciling on top of a cake

Stencil the cake when it is still warm but not hot. The powdered sugar will stick better to the cake if it’s warm.

Moisten the stencil before use. A moist stencil is going to trap the powdered sugar that doesn’t fall on the cake, and keep it from rolling off onto the cake in random locations when you lift the stencil off. You can mist the stencil while it’s away from the cake, and then lay it on the cake, being careful to keep it horizontal.

Use a stencil made from card stock. Water beads on a plastic or mylar stencil, but a card stock stencil holds a little moisture and the excess sugar will just stick to it. (You can let it dry, and brush it off if you want to use it a second or third time.)

Use the flattest part of the cake. If you have a cake that really rose a lot in the oven, and it turned out very bulge-y in the center, then consider using the bottom of the cake for the stencil. If the stencil is a thin, bendy band (or divided up into thin, bendy bands) then you might get away stenciling a bulge-y cake. But much easier to stick to a flat surface.

Cake not dark enough? Use more cocoa. Also, moister cakes–such as this kahlua cake (but made as a sheet cake)–look darker.

Using Bay Stencil

If you don’t have your own cutter, you can cut your cake stencil by hand, or you can have Bay Stencil cut your stencil for you.

Our first attempt

This opportunity kind of came up on its own. I was surprised with a cake, and decided to just try to put the Bay Stencil logo on it. The cake wasn’t exactly chocolate or really particularly dark. But we made a go of it, and I think you get the idea.