A quick scroll or spin through the fall offerings of any clothing or home goods retailer this year will have you seeing spots, literally. Leopard print is back in a big way! For some of us it never left (eh, hem).
As most of you know, trends that pop up in clothing and home goods almost always make their way onto cakes. When deciding how to tackle this idea, I knew I wanted to go untraditional with colors. Pink leopard print speaks to my 90’s teenage soul in a way that little else does. By all means go with standard browns and tans if that’s your jam. I also decided to use the buttercream transfer method when making my spots to give the finished cake a little added texture and because it’s easier to fix or hide any mistakes along the way. If a spot goes wonky on you, just slide the cake back into the fridge, pop the errant spot off with the tip of a knife, and try again. Just don’t get too fussy with your design. This is one of those times when the more random, the better.
LEOPARD BUTTERCREAM CAKE
a tutorial by Erin Gardner
- Vanilla buttercream
- 3 shades of pink gel food colors. I used Americolor soft pink, fuchsia, and burgundy.
- Black gel food color
- Waxed paper
- Piping bags
- Small round piping tips (optional)
- Large star piping tip
- 6-inch round cake covered in soft pink buttercream, chilled
- Dark gray or silver sugar pearls
- Assorted pink sprinkles and pearls
PREP YOUR SUPPLIES
Cut tiny 1 to 2-inch squares of waxed paper. Tint about a cup each of buttercream with the soft pink, fuchsia, and burgundy gel colors. Using piping tips is entirely optional, but I feel they make the job a little easier. Fill bags with small round tips (or just cut small openings) with the burgundy and soft pink. Fill a bag with a slightly larger round tip (or just cut it) with fuchsia. Tint 2 to 3 cups of buttercream dark gray and fill a bag fitted with a large star tip.
MAKE THE LEOPARD PRINT BUTTERCREAM TRANSFERS
You can make your leopard spots as large or as small as you like depending on the size of your project. I made mine .5 to 1-inch in diameter. Draw circles on the back of your waxed paper squares if you need a guide, or just freehand it like I did. Use the burgundy buttercream to pipe small lines or dots that roughly outline a small circle. Fill in the center of the circle with the fuchsia buttercream.
Set the square on a baking sheet. Repeat with the other paper squares. I made about 60 leopard spots total to cover a tall 6-inch round. Mix up the patterns you pipe with the burgundy buttercream to vary the look of the spots. Pop the tray of spots into the fridge to chill just until they’re firm to the touch, about 10 minutes.
COMPLETE THE LEOPARD PRINT CAKE
Pipe a layer of pale pink buttercream on the backs of each spot so that they’ll sit slightly elevated and level on the sides of the cake.
Press the spots randomly onto the sides of the chilled buttercream cake. Gently smooth your finger over each spot to ensure it’s fully making contact with the cake.
Pop the cake back into the fridge until the spots are firm to the touch, about 10 minutes. Peel off the paper backings and repeat the process to fill in any spaces with more spots.
Top the cake with piped swirls of dark gray buttercream.
Fill in spots between dots with gray pearl sprinkles and garnish the buttercream swirls with assorted sprinkles in complementing shades of pink.