How to Paint a Watercolor Cake! A peek into the creative process using edible paints and lemon extract with our contributor, Allison Kelleher.
Lately, I’ve been playing around with ‘watercolor’ painting – the traditional technique – very much like you would do on paper – but without paper or water! When I came across this lovely Rex Ray painting, I knew it would be the perfect inspiration. The colors are so fresh and pretty, and they blend together beautifully.
It took a little trial and error to figure out how to create a ‘watercolor painting’ on fondant – in the end, I realized that the key to the process is drying time – and lots of it!
To start off, I rolled out a pretty thin piece of fondant and let it sit out a bit. I mixed lemon extract with edible petal dust in shades of fuchsia, two tones of yellow, bright green and a subdued lavender; then I painted. When you use a lot of lemon extract, you get all sorts of interesting shapes and colors. But it can take several hours to dry. While I chose to use lemon extract, any clear extract or clear alcohol like vodka will work as well.
When the fondant is easy enough to handle, cut into shapes and apply to your cake. Design-wise, I used a free-form, organic aesthetic but then contained it within the stripes.
I really enjoyed the process of painting – it was fun (and different) for me. It was a nice change from my more structured Modern Mosaic Cakes. With no rules, no right or wrong way to do it, there’s no need to be precise! I hope you give this watercolor technique a try.
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Bellenza Wedding Bistro says
Such a pretty “marbled” effect! Lovely technique. 🙂
Absolutely love everything about this. Gorgeous in every way.
Moira Ferguson says
I have been painting portraits, scenes and flowers directly onto cake and cookies…..so much fun! and looks fantastic
So cool…cake decorating is truly an art form! I love this watercolor technique for fondant. Will be trying to find an excuse to try this soon!
Edith Musch says
Lovely! But I was wondering: instead of lemonjuice, couldn’t you use clear alcohol, like vodka? I suspect it wouldn’t take as long to dry either.
Carrie Sellman says
Yes, any clear extract or clear alcohol would work as well!
Marcus S says
beautiful…must try this one!
Love this idea. Before I read I thought the strips were DIY white chocolate vellum. But this is great! Inspired…
Allison Kelleher says
Thank you all for your sweet comments!
This is so remarkable! I just looooove it! Thank you for your generosity in sharing your BEAUTIFUL technique. Can I ask what you applied your painted fondant panels to? Was it buttercream or a fondant-covered cake? What type of covered cakes will this work with? Thank you!!!
Allison Kelleher says
Thank you so much! I applied my stripes to a fondant covered cake, but it would work just as well if they were applied to buttercream. Just make sure the buttercream is cold, so you have a firm surface to work on. 🙂
I am in love with this cake — the design and overall watercolor effect is just lovely!
Renae Heineck says
Thanks for the inspiration! I have a dummy cake to make for a venue and I hadn’t decided on design, now I have. I’ll create the watercolor in blues/greens and accent with a white lotus flower. Thanks for kick starting this design for me. When Erin Fale, from Sugarhouse Cake and I meet for coffee, she talks about your designs and how beautiful they are, and she’s right.
Here’s to wedding season being over soon 😉 ~ Renae
Thanks for sharing this piece of art, it’s wonderful the way you’ve applied watercolour painting to decorating a cake. The photographs are beautifully done, too – it makes the process look fun (and achievable!)
Renae Heineck says
Just finished the 3-tier cake with this technique! It was easy and came together beautifully. The trick is letting the fondant get a bit of a “skin” on it before painting. I also sprinkled the luster/petal dust onto the wet lemon extract for effect. I loved the colors so much, with the left over colored fondant scraps I cut out flowers. I really enjoyed implementing this technique into my decorating. Thanks so much Allison.
sue l. says
can you use other types of paints or just the dust type and maybe vodka ? this cake is beautiful I love the idea of painting them makes them even more special no two alike ! thanks for sharing to all of us =)
Truly a work of art! Thanks for sharing. If I wanted to decorate a ruffled cake, could I use the same method and ruffle the strips after it has dried or would you paint on fondant strips which have already been hardened slightly and ruffled? Thanks!!
When I first tried this I used Everclear and a make-up sponge and it came out beautiful. Then I tried vodka and it was a terrible sticky mess. I don’t know why; it could have been any number of factors. This was just my experience. I love this modern technique and style of cake!
Dora Moreno says
I believe Everclear has a higher alcohol content since it is a grain alcohol. That would make it dry faster than Vodka, thus avoiding the sticky mess!
Just wondering if you would be able to use powdered food colouring instead of petal dust and still achieve the same result?
I so happy to see this. My doubt is can I use cocoa butter with gel colours to paint on buttercream fondant. Does this makes any difference. As I am not user of alcohol. R same thing as you said using lemon juice. Please reply. Thank for beautiful blog
What brand of petal dust do you use? And what colours are you using for this cake? The colours work so well together, it looks so beautiful!!!
Thank you 🙂 xxx
Beaituful cake! Does the fondant become very hard after drying for so long?
so beautiful! If you use vodka instead of water or lemon extract it will cut the drying time in half (and you won’t taste the vodka)
I really need a tutorial on HOW you water colored this. My painting looks terrible! Any tips? Please?
Hi, do you have any instructions on how to make the lovely flower on the top of the cake?