Playing Dress-Up

Playing Dress-Up
Playing Dress-Up
This image courtesy of Corey Brinkmann

Editor's Note: Whether you need a cake for a birthday party, mother's day, or a bridal shower, this design for Playing Dress-Up will be the talk of the event! Whimsical and colorful as can be, this cake design is ideal for those at the intermediate level of cake decorating. Just keep in mind that some of the decorating steps need to be completed a few days in advance of assembling the cake. This cake decoration uses Royal Icing, which is a simple recipe that includes egg whites and powdered sugar among the ingredients. In addition, some of the resources, templates, and additional information can be found in the The Necessities from the cookbook.

Is there anything more fabulous than a beautiful dress custom-made just for you? How about one you don’t have to worry about fitting into? This is one of the first cakelet designs I created for my business, Cupcake Envy. It started out pretty simple, but over the years I’ve had a lot of fun changing the style, pattern, and adding sweet and stylish accents. It’s so easy to mix things up that it’s hard to know when to stop. Now, there are so many dress designs in my repertoire I can practically create my own fashion label. Just watch; once you make your first dress you won’t be able to resist playing dress-up, too. 

1. Batter yields enough cake for 4 cakelets
2. Fondant quantity listed is suitable to complete 1 cakelet

Cooking MethodBaking

OccasionBirthday, Casual Dinner Party, Family Get Together

Taste and TextureSweet

Type of DishCake, Dessert


  • Tools
  • 4-cavity mini dome baking pan
  • The Necessities
  • Templates for Dress Top, Skirt Panel, and optional Hanger (see Templates in The Necessities)
  • Small and medium flower cutters
  • Flower veiner tool
  • Piping bag with #2 cake decorating tip
  • Paring knife
  • Ingredients
  • One 16-oz (455-g) box cake mix (any flavor) prepared, or batter for one 9-in (23-cm) cake
  • 1 recipe Vanilla Frosting or 1 container store-bought frosting
  • 1 lb (455 g) white fondant (see Resources in The Necessities)
  • 1 recipe Royal Icing
  • Three shades of gel food coloring (a base color, a complementary color, and an accent color)


Prepare to Decorate

Color 6½ oz (185 g) of fondant using the gel food coloring for the desired base color of the dress. Color 7½ oz (210 g) of fondant with a contrasting but complementary color for the skirt, waistline, and optional neckline. Color 1 oz (28 g) of fondant a strong accent color for the center of the waistline and the corsage. Wrap each color separately in plastic wrap or a zip top bag until ready to use. 

Make the Dress Top (two days prior to decorating)

  1. Dust a clean, dry work surface with cornstarch. Roll out 2½ oz (70 g) of the base color fondant to ⅛ in (3 mm) thick. If you want to embellish the dress top by pressing it with a texture sheet, do it now. 

  2. Place the Dress Top template on the fondant. Use an X-Acto knife to cut out the form using the template as a guide. Place the dress top on a piece of parchment paper and set aside to dry for 2–3 days at room temperature out of direct sunlight (to keep the color from fading). 

Make the Hangers (optional)

  1. Attach a #2 cake decorating tip to a piping bag. Fill the bag with white royal icing. 

  2. Use the Hanger template to trace 3–10 hanger shapes onto a piece of parchment paper (the extras are in case of breakage). Flip the paper (you should still be able to see the lines you drew) and pipe the icing along the lines. Allow to dry for 24 hours. Keep your extra hangers for future dress projects in a Tupperware container for up to six months. 

Bake the Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Spray each of the mini dome pan cavities to be used with non-stick spray (you will need one mini dome cake for one cakelet). Fill each cavity being used three-quarters full with batter. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 

  2. Allow cake to cool for a few minutes in the pan. If the cake rose above the pan, use a serrated knife to cut away the top to make it level (set the knife across the top of the pan so you can use it as a guide). Run a knife around the edge to loosen the sides. Invert the cake out of the pan and place it on a wire rack to finish cooling.  When completely cool, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for at least two hours until cold and firm. 

Prepare the Skirt

  1. Place the mini dome cake on a square piece of parchment paper. Using a tapered angled spatula, apply a smooth crumb coat of Vanilla Frosting over the cake. Use enough frosting so that the spatula doesn’t come into direct contact with the cake. This will keep you from dislodging too many crumbs. 

  2. Dust your work surface with cornstarch. Roll out 5½ oz (160 g) of complementary-color fondant to an 8-in (20.5-cm) circle that’s ¼ in (6 mm) thick. 

  3. Slide your hands underneath the fondant using open palms so as not to poke a hole in it. Pick the fondant up and gently lay it over the mini cake and smooth it down. Alternatively, you could allow the folds to naturally drape, which gives the impression of draped fabric. Use your pastry wheel to cut away excess fondant around the bottom of the dress. 


  1. Using the dried dress top, gently press an indentation into the top of the fondant-covered cake to give yourself a guideline for cutting. 

  2. Using a paring knife, cut through the fondant along the indention. Insert the dress top.

  3. Dust your work surface with cornstarch. Roll out 4 oz (115 g) of base-color fondant into a sheet ⅛ in (3 mm) thick. Place the Skirt Panel template on the fondant. Use an X-Acto knife to cut out eight triangular panels, using the template as a guide. Brush the panels with a little water and press lightly to apply the triangles at regular intervals around the skirt. 

  4. Dust a work surface with cornstarch. Roll out 2 oz (55 g) of the complementary-color fondant until it is ¼ in (6 mm) thick. Cut out a strip that is 4 in (10 cm) long and ½ in (1.25 cm) wide to make a waistband, and a strip that is 2 in (5 cm) long and ½ in (1.25 cm) wide to make a neckline (optional). 

  5. Roll out 1 oz (28 g) of accent color fondant until ¼ in (6 mm) thick. Cut out a strip that is 4 in (10 cm) long and ¼ in (6 mm) wide to complete the waistband. Cut out another strip that is 2 in (5 cm) long and ¼ in (6 mm) wide to complete the neckline, if using.

  6. Brush the contrasting-colored fondant strips with a little water. Center the corresponding accent-color fondant strips on top, pressing lightly to adhere.

  7. Using the paint brush, apply a little  water around the base of the dress top. Wrap the waistband around the base of the dress top with the seam in the back. Repeat with the optional neckline strip. 

Finishing Touches

  1. Dust a work surface with cornstarch. Roll out the remaining accent color fondant until it is ⅛ in (3 mm) thick. Use the medium flower cutter to cut out one flower per dress (for the corsage). Optionally, cut an additional 15–20 flowers per dress with the small flower cutter to form a floral hem. 

  2. If creating a hem, brush the bottom of edge of the skirt with a little water. Arrange a row of small flowers along the bottom of the skirt. Using the veining tool, poke the tip of the veiner into each flower, pressing the flower into the bottom of the dress. This will result in a seamless flower border around the bottom of the dress.

  3. To add a flower corsage, dab the dress top with a little water where you want to place the corsage. Press a medium flower onto the area with your fingers. Dab the flower with a little water and place a center a small flower on top. 

  4. Use the piping bag filled with royal icing tinted to match the accent color and fitted with a #2 tip to pipe flourishes around each flower. Optionally, pipe several decorative dots on the waist band. 

  5. To adhere the optional hanger to the dress, apply a dot of royal icing on the back of each shoulder on the back of the dress. Press the bottom of the hanger to it and hold for a few seconds. 


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Oh my goodness! This is like something off a fancy cooking show!


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