The ‘Painted’ Giftbox Cake

When I saw the new Squires Kitchen Edible Wafer Papers by Natasha Collins at the Squires Kitchen Exhibition, I was immediately struck by the possibilities they could offer those cake makers not confident in their cake painting abilities or who have clients that simply don’t have the budget to pay for the time and skill that goes into a hand-painted cake.

Designed by the British cake artist and cake-painting specialist behind Nevie Pie Cakes – ‘the home of the painted cake – the range of beautiful ‘painted’ designs on strong, flexible and ultra-fine wafer paper are perfect to add pretty painted effects in seconds.

This got me wondering if they could make it possible for a cake decorating novice to create a show-stopping cake without the time and effort that professionals usually put in.

For that reason, I have tried to keep this tutorial as simple as possible, with minimal complex sugarcraft techniques. Rather than create my own floral spray, I purchased one from my trusty local cake supplies store (you can buy something similar from my friends at Fabricake Sugarcraft Ltd) and other than a bit of airbrushing, which can seem a bit daunting at first, there is nothing in this tutorial that should be too difficult for even a complete beginner to manage.

To make your very own Painted Gift Box cake, you will need:

Consumables Required:

(Use the links to find these ingredients at Fabricake Sugarcraft Ltd and take advantage of an exclusive 10% saving using discount code: MRBAKER10)

Equipment Required:

  • A rolling pin
  • A dresden tool
  • An airbrush and compressor kit (I have the Clairella Cakes set)
  • Paintbrush
  • Sugarpaste smoother
  • Flexi smoother
  • Ribbon cutter
  • Stitching tool
  • A metal ruler
  • A craft knife or scalpel

Step 1:

Before you begin, you should already have covered your cake with white sugarpaste. My cake is a 7” cake and is 8” tall. If you don’t fancy trying to cover such an awkward cake, you can use a shorter one. Leave this to dry, ideally overnight.

Step 2:

Begin by colouring half of your sugar paste using your brown gel colour. Start slowly as you only want a pale brown colour. Once you are happy with the shade, leave this to rest for approximately 30 minutes.

Step 3:

Roll out your pale brown sugarpaste into a square shape, slightly larger than your cake drum. Brush or spray the drum with cooled, boiled water and then gently lay the paste over the board. Trim the edges and then use a dresden tool to create multiple, parallel impressions into the paste – these don’t need to be too neat but try to vary the length and depth.

Step 4:

Using an edge scraper or a ruler, mark out the edges of your floorboards and then use your dresden tool to add texture to the ends. Don’t panic if the sugarpaste pulls apart, you can guide the boards back together by adding more strokes in the opposite direction. Finally trim your edges again.

Step 5:

Fill your airbrush with brown liquid colour and spray the edges of the board and the grooves between the ‘floorboards’. Finally, holding the airbrush almost horizontally, lightly spray the whole board, perpendicular to the ‘woodgrain’ to highlight the details. Leave the painted board to dry completely, ideally overnight.

TOP TIP: If you don’t have an airbrush kit, you can recreate a similar effect using a wide paintbrush and some brown petal dust.

Step 6:

Spoon two tablespoons of piping gel into a microwaveable bowl and heat on full power for 30-45 seconds – stirring every 15 seconds.

Step 7:

Use a large brush or a flexi-smoother to apply a thin coat of piping gel to the sides of the cake (try to avoid getting any on the board). Leave to dry for a few minutes while you prepare your wafer paper.

Step 8:

Measure the cake’s height using a ruler or tape measure and then use a metal ruler and a scalpel to trim the paper (in landscape) to the correct height.

Step 9:

Using the board to ensure that the paper is level apply the wafer paper to the side of the cake – starting in the middle and then working your way out to the edges.

Step 10:

Repeat for the second piece of paper and, if you have used a 7” cake, you should find that the second paper only overlaps by around a centimetre. Use your sharp scalpel to trim the excess and then use a sugarpaste smoother to ensure all of the paper is attached to the cake.

TOP TIP: If you have any air bubbles, you can use a needle or a thin scribing tool to pop them, gently forcing out the air with your smoother.

Step 11:

Colour a small mount of your sugarpaste using the lime green gel colour. Roll out before cutting thin strips using a ribbon cutter or sharp knife. Brush some of your remaining piping gel over the seams of the wafer paper and then gently apply the sugarpaste to hide them. Use your flexi-smoother to blend out any lumps or bumps before creating a stitched effect on each side of the ‘ribbons’ with a stitching tool.

Step 12:

To create the lid of your box, colour some more of your sugarpaste using a small amount of purple gel colour, before allowing it to rest for approximately 30 minutes.

Step 13:

Brush the top of the cake with cooled, boiled water and then roll out your sugarpaste into a thin circle. Drape this over the cake and smooth the top and sides against the cake.

Step 14:

Use your scalpel to trim the sides of your ‘lid’, about an inch below the top of the cake. If, like me, you struggle to do this free hand, you can wrap a strip of ribbon around the cake, pinning it in place, to use as a guide.

Step 15:

To make your bow, colour your modelling paste using the purple gel colour. Roll it out and then use your ribbon cutter to cut five thick strips of the paste. For the bow itself, take one strip of ribbon and fold it in half.

Step 16:

Concertina fold the centre of the ribbon, then set it upright and position it until it will stand independently. Repeat this for the second half of the bow.

Step 17:

For the knot, concertina another strip of the modelling paste and wrap it around the two centre ends of the bow, securing with a little cooled, boiled water or edible glue.

Step 18:

Finally, take the final two strips of the modelling paste and cut an inverted V-shape into the ends. Attach to the top of the cake with cooled, boiled water or edible glue and then attach the bow on top.

Step 19:

Apply a small amount of royal icing, chocolate ganache or sugarpaste gunge to the back-right of the set cake board and carefully place the cake on top.

Step 20:

Arrange your floral spray around the base of the cake, securing with a small amount of royal icing – be careful to ensure that this cannot be seen.

Step 21:

To personalise the cake, you can add a sugarpaste gift tag to the cake or pipe an inscription onto a sugarpaste plaque which can be placed directly on to the board.

TOP TIP: To increase the wow factor, why not raise the lid of the gift box and add some modelling paste ‘tissue’ spilling out? The effect is very simple to achieve with a 1” thick polystyrene cake dummy and some food safe dowels to support the lid. I did something similar in last year’s tutorial for Cake Masters Magazine (November 2017), which you can pick up here.

Don’t forget, if you have a go at my ‘Painted’ Giftbox Cake, get in touch and let me know! I love seeing what you’ve been making at home! And don’t forget to check out my full review of the Squires Kitchen Edible Wafer Papers by Natasha Collins over here!

Until next time, happy caking!