Updated: Mar 28
Hi, and welcome to my first blog post! I'm looking forward to keep you up to date with the world of wedding cakes over the coming months writing about topics I love such as key wedding cake trends, sustainability in the wedding cake industry and also tackling your top wedding cake queries.
To kick off I wanted to talk about minimalist cakes. I'm like a magpie to a minimalist cake design on Instagram and Pinterest and love to create this look too, so wanted to start here and explain a bit more about them; why they are on trend right now for weddings; and how you too can create this stunning look at home. Let's get started!
In this article I'll be covering the following topics;
What do you mean by minimalist cake?
Minimalist cake design
Minimalist wedding cakes
Minimalist birthday cakes
Minimalist cake for men
Minimalist cake recipe
What to you mean by minimalist cake?
Cake design and decorating has long history with intricate design work that makes a bold statement. We've all seen those 'wow' cakes with 5 tiers and cascades of mind-blowing detail. Typically a cake designer will achieve this stand out look using decorating techniques such as detailed sugar craft work, buttercream painting, stencilling, printed edibles and a choice of bold colours. They are truly works of dedicated edible art!
However, an emerging wedding cake and birthday cake trend over the last year and continuing into 2022/23 is to opt for the 'more is less' approach cake or minimalist cake trend. Conceptually it's akin to mirroring the minimalist design trend in interiors but applying this to cake design. The design for a minimalist cake will be simple, clean and understated.
Minimalist cake design
Well what exactly is a minimalist cake design? Well it's by no means a simpler approach to cake design. In fact it takes a lot of consideration as the design is exposed by its restraint. In essence a minimalist cake is one that makes a statement by using a neutral colour palette, clean lines and modernist design.
Minimalist design in architecture, art, furniture and graphic design has been popular since the 1960, and is currently ever present in contemporary branding from packaging design, logos, website design and even our Instagram feeds. The look is clean and fresh and photography uncluttered and stand out.
Minimalist design in cakes is a reflection of this functionalist trend stemming from the design world. Simplicity in its form is valued above all things. This quote by Meg Reid captures perfectly how minimalist design works.
"By giving our eyes fewer items to consider, we devote more attention to the ones that are there."
A minimalist cake will typically showcase a single look and/or neutral colour - but will need to compete this look faultlessly as there is nowhere for the cake designer to hide. The focus will be on the shape, colour or texture used in the design.
Minimalist wedding cakes
Minimalist wedding cakes are becoming ever more popular, and are an ideal choice for couples looking for their wedding cake to stand out in a unique, understated way. This design approach is great for couples with a neutral coloured wedding theme or those who choose a very contemporary style.
In lots of ways they are a bolder choice than a traditional wedding cake design, say with florals.
This white wedding cake, for example, using a single design concept of wafter paper in a neutral tones capture this look perfectly.
Alternatively, the use of single stem fresh or dried floral and wafter paper and rice paper techniques to create movement and sculpture are modern techniques that reflect a minimalist cake design. We have also seen the increase in use of naturally died silk ribbons tied simply around one tier of a wedding cake and nothing else. Classy, stunning and beautiful!
Minimalist wedding cake ideas
Minimalist Birthday Cakes
Like wedding cakes minimalist birthday cakes are growing in popularity. There has been a rise in the preference for modern buttercream cakes over detailed fondant character cakes for birthdays in the last 5 years.
If you want less fuss, buttercream cakes have a neutral smooth and delicious canvas which you can then compliment with either simple single floral or buttercream piping. The idea is to use only the bare essentials to create a beautiful piece of art whether it‘s for birthdays, anniversaries, christening or other special occasions.
This minimalist birthday cake uses a peach tone buttercream which is then matched with one flower in a complimentary colour. It's simple but effective.
Minimalist cakes for men
It's no surprise that minimalist cakes for men are a popular choice for husbands, brothers and dad's birthdays. With a crisp and sleek design this look suits what a lot of people are looking for when it comes to finding the man in the life a birthday cake. I often get asked for this pared back modernist look for men's custom minimalist cakes using gender typical 'male' colours such as pale greys, blues and greens. The 'concrete' grey look has emerged as a trend in cakes for men in particular. Cake designers such as Don't Tell Charles from Australia demonstrate this design aesthetic perfectly. This cake shows the use of a single neutral coloured cake decorated with a single design technique.
Minimalist Cake Recipe
Now you know all about what minimalist cakes are and what they look like try making one of your own at home! Here I will share with you how to create your own minimalist cake.
It's all about keeping it simple - so start with my classic vanilla bean cake recipe (or you could use your go to chocolate cake / red velvet cake recipe).
Minimalist cake recipe - ingredients
200g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
250g caster sugar 4 medium eggs 1tsp vanilla bean paste
250g of self-raising flour
1⁄4 tsp fine salt 1 tsp baking powder
75ml whole milk, at room temperature
Minimalist cake recipe - method
Pre heat your oven to fan 160c/ 320F. Grease and line two 8” cake tins.
To make the vanilla bean cake: sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
Cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla bean paste in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until light and pale. Scrape down the sides occasionally.
Turn down the mixer down and add one egg at a time. Scrape the bowl to ensure all the mixture is evenly incorporated.
Add half of the flour mixture on a low speed and combine then add half the milk and combine. Repeat with the remaining flour and milk. The batter should be smooth with a good drop consistency, add more milk if its too thick.
Divide the cake batter evenly between the tins. Using scales can help you get an accurate result.
Bake for approximately 35-45 minutes until springy to touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for at least 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Once your cake is cooled you're ready to fill and decorate. I'd recommend a jam filling of your choice with an American vanilla bean buttercream.
Ingredients for American Buttercream/Frosting: 200g unsalted butter at room temperature 400g icing sugar 2 tbsp water
1tsp vanilla bean paste 100g jam or conserve
Place the butter and icing sugar and water in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat with the paddle attachment for 8–10 minutes, scraping down intermittently, until light and fluffy. Flavour your American buttercream/frosting with one tablespoon of vanilla bean paste.
Minimalist cake recipe - building your cake
Layer each sponge with your American vanilla bean buttercream and filling of your choice – strawberry, raspberry, salted caramel etc.
Smooth buttercream around the edges of your cake using a or offset spatula until you have a fine coating around the whole cake - this is called the crumb coat.
Refridgerate for 30 minutes to set the crumb coat.
Once set, apply another layer of buttercream over the cake and smooth with your cake scraper to achieve a smooth or textured finish, depending on what you prefer. A good cake turntable helps to create a smooth finished look and is well worth investing in.
Set again in the fridge for 30 minutes.
You now have the basis for your minimalist cake. Decorate your cake as you like; but remember the principles for minimalist cake design - that less is more. Use, for example, a single statement flower or pipe a simple edge of buttercream around your cake and leave it at that!
Happy baking, Erin x
I hope this article helped explain all about what minimalist cake are and how to create the look yourself at home. If you enjoyed reading through my post, please share it with friends who also want to learn more about minimalist cakes. Please aslo feel free to leave me a comment below. I always love hearing what readers have to say.
You can take a look at my wedding cake portfolio here which includes some minimalist cake designs. Should you want a minimalist cake designed for you, don’t hesitate to contact us and we’ll be happy to create a stunning cake design for you. Birch House Bakery Cake Design is based in Balcombe, West Sussex, UK.
Peace and love, Erin x
Hi, I'm Erin and I started my wedding and celebration cakes business, Birch House Bakery, in 2016 after deciding to stay at home to look after first son, Henry. With 8 years of cake making and design experience I am passionate about creating beautiful, timeless buttercream cakes that celebrate the union of love and joy. I strive to adopt an ethos of sustainability in my work by sourcing ingredients from local and British suppliers, using biodegradable products and planting a tree for every £100 spent with MoreTrees. Please do get in touch to discuss any upcoming cake orders and your requirements. Birch House Bakery is based in West Sussex, UK.
Find out more about Erin.