Hydrangea Cakes

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These gorgeous Hydrangea Cakes are mini layer cakes, decorated with pastel buttercream to look like fresh hydrangeas. You’ll be surprised to learn how easy it is to make the pretty, colorful blossom design on the outside. They’re perfect for weddings, showers, birthdays, and more!

Close up of a purple, blue, and white hydrangea cake.

 🌸 Easy Buttercream Flower Cakes

These Hydrangea Mini Cakes were first published in 2017, and since then, they’ve become a beloved SugarHero reader favorite. Hundreds of people have made them–and made them their own, including changing the colors, making them into a cupcake bouquet, making full-size cake versions, and even turning them into wedding cakes!

It’s easy to see why these cakes are so popular. Their pretty pastel blooms look fancy, but they’re surprisingly easy to decorate. (My husband said he could do it himself, and that is SAYING SOMETHING.) They’re a good project for someone dipping their toe into cake decorating, and don’t require much in the way of special equipment.

Finally, they’re not all about the looks–they taste fantastic, too! My Hydrangea Cakes are made with a velvety white cake batter. It’s super soft and tender, with the most delicate crumb and a soft vanilla flavor. If you’re looking for a shortcut, though, the good news is that this decorating technique works equally well with cake mix cakes, so go with whatever works for you!

If you are looking for more beautiful flower dessert recipes, try my Easy Chocolate Flower Cupcakes, Rosette Cupcakes, Watercolor Rose Sugar Cookies, or mega-tall Spring In Bloom Layer Cake.

Three hydrangea cakes on small white cake stands.

🧾 What You’ll Need

Four hydrangea cakes in various pastel colors.

Ingredients

You can find the full ingredient list in the recipe card below, but here are a few notes to help you assemble your supplies: (Links are affiliate links and I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.)

  • Cake flour: The recipe calls for cake flour, which is a very fine flour with a low protein content–perfect for creating light, fluffy cakes. It is typically sold in the baking aisle by the other types of flour. If you can’t find it, in a pinch you can make your own–see instructions here for making your own cake flour.
  • Egg whites: Between the cake and frosting, this recipe uses a LOT of egg whites! If you don’t have some on hand already from other baking projects, I recommend buying a carton of 100% egg whites to use–it is usually found right next to the eggs in the grocery store. This will save you time and ingredient waste.
  • Gel food coloring: I always recommend gel colors, as opposed to liquid food coloring, because they are more concentrated, so you need less coloring to get your desired shade. I used Americolor brand colors for these cakes.
Close-up of piping bag with purple frosting fitted with a star tip.

Equipment

  • 4-inch cake pans: If you want to re-create these cakes the way they look in the post, it’s easiest to use 4-inch cake pans. Your other alternatives are to bake larger cakes and either decorate them that size, or cut out rounds from the cakes to make the minis. But using 4-inch pans is fastest and results in the least amount of waste.
  • Piping bags: I always have a pack of these piping bags on hand. Although they are technically “disposable,” I wash them out and reuse them for multiple projects.
  • Drop flower tip:You’ll need a drop flower piping tip like the Wilton 2D to decorate these cakes. If possible, grab a few of the same tip, so you can have multiple piping bags with different color schemes going at the same time. Check out our post on making Rosette Cupcakes for more ways to use this versatile and pretty piping tip!
  • Plastic wrap: Regular kitchen plastic wrap is the secret for making multi-colored frosting!

📋 Decorating Instructions

Here’s a tutorial showing how to decorate these Hydrangea Cakes! Check out the full video in the recipe card to see the process from start to finish.

Two-photo collage showing how to spread buttercream on a piece of plastic wrap.
  • Spread out a long piece of plastic wrap on your work surface.
  • Spread a rectangle of colored frosting on the plastic wrap. This will be the outside color in your blooms.
Two-photo collage showing how to make a multi-colored piping bag.
  • Take a second color of frosting and spread it on top of the first. If desired, add a third or even a fourth color on top. 
  • Roll the frosting over itself to make a cylinder. Grasp the ends of the plastic wrap in each hand, and twirl it quickly so the frosting is burrito-shaped and the ends of the plastic are tightly twisted. 
Two-photo collage showing how to prep the piping bag for hydrangea cakes.
  • Snip off one of the plastic wrap “tails.”
  • Fit a piping bag with a drop flower tip, and insert the frosting cylinder into the piping bag, snipped-side down.
Two-photo collage showing how to pipe buttercream on a mini hydrangea cake.
  • You’ll first need your mini cakes to be layered and covered with a thin coat of frosting (a “crumb coat.”) No need for it to be pretty, because it’s all going to be covered up soon! Pipe big, messy stars all over the cake. You don’t actually want them to look like stars, so twist and turn the bag as you pipe them to make them a free-form blossom shape. 
  • Continue to pipe stars until the whole cake is covered, layering them on top of each other in different directions so they look organic.
  • When you’re finished with a cake and done with that color combination, remove the extra frosting in the plastic wrap, and add a different cylinder of frosting. (It’s an easy way to change colors without changing piping bags!)
Hydrangea cakes with various colored frosting on small white cake stands.

💭 Variations

  • Instead of six mini cakes, bake the batter in 8″ or 9″ cake pans instead, and make one giant hydrangea cake!
  • Or, use this same technique on cupcakes and make a bouquet of hydrangea blooms.
  • Frost a cake as you normally would, then add a few hydrangea blossoms growing up the side and on top. This also makes a gorgeous wedding cake decoration!
  • You can swap out the flavoring extract to make different flavors or cake. Try almond, coconut, lemon, or orange. Or to continue the floral theme, try adding some rose water to make a delicate rose-flavored cake!
Close up of a purple hydrangea cake on a small white cake stand.

💡 Tips and FAQs  

Hydrangea cakes on small white round plates, one with a slice missing to reveal the layers inside the cake.

💐 More flower desserts

Spring In Bloom Layer Cake
This Spring In Bloom Layer Cake is an extra-tall spring cake COVERED with gorgeous buttercream flowers! It’s filled with lemon curd and raspberry jam, and bursting with bright and colorful buttercream blooms.
Get the recipe!
Spring In Bloom Layer Cake | From SugarHero.com
Rosette Cupcakes
Rosettes are one of the easiest buttercream decorations to make, and also one of the prettiest! Here's everything you need to know to create beautiful rosette cupcakes.
Get the recipe!
Overhead shot of pink and yellow Rosette Cupcakes with piped leaves around the edges.

Leave a review!

If you make this recipe, let us know! Leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating on the recipe below, and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram @elabau, or use #sugarhero on IG!

Hand holding a mini cake stand with a hydrangea cake on it.

Hydrangea Cakes

4.92 from 37 votes
These Hydrangea Cakes are gorgeous miniature cakes that look like hydrangea flowers! You’ll be surprised to learn how easy it is to make the pretty, colorful blossom design on the outside. The inside is beautiful, too, with swirls of multicolored cake!
This recipe makes six 4-inch cakes. Each cake can serve at least 2 people, or more depending on appetites.
Prep Time 2 hrs
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 35 mins
Yield 12 servings
Calories 946 kcal

Ingredients
 

For the Cakes:

  • 10 1/2 oz granulated sugar, (1 1/2 cups)
  • 10 1/2 oz cake flour, (2 2/3 cups)
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 4 fl oz egg whites, (1/2 cup) — see Note below
  • 8 fl oz milk, (1 cup)
  • 1 TBSP vanilla extract
  • 6 oz unsalted butter, (1.5 sticks), at room temperature
  • Gel food coloring, (I used Americolor electric purple, regal purple, sky blue, and soft pink)

For the Buttercream:

  • 6 fl oz pasteurized liquid egg whites, (3/4 cup) — see Note below
  • 24 oz powdered sugar, (6 cups)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 24 oz unsalted butter, (3 sticks), at room temperature
  • 2 TBSP vanilla extract
  • Gel food coloring, (I used Americolor electric purple, regal purple, sky blue, and soft pink)
CUSTOMIZE: 12 servings

Instructions
 

To Make the Cakes:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line six 4-inch cake pans with parchment rounds, and spray the parchment and pan sides with nonstick cooking spray. (Note that you can make these cakes in different sizes depending on what size pans you have. If you make larger cakes, just extend the baking time and watch them closely.)
  • Combine the sugar, cake flour, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed for about a minute to combine the dry ingredients.
  • Lightly whisk together the egg whites together with a quarter of the milk and the vanilla extract, and set aside for now.
  • Add the remaining ¾ cup milk and the softened butter to the large mixing bowl and mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Turn the mixer to medium speed and mix for a minute and a half.
  • Add the egg white mixture in three batches, mixing for 20-30 seconds after each addition, until you have a smooth batter. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, and give the batter a few more stirs to make sure everything is incorporated.
  • Divide the batter into 4 even portions, and color one purple, one blue, and one pink. Leave one portion white.
  • Use a spoon to scoop spoonfuls of the batters and plop them in a random pattern in the prepared cake pans. Fill them about halfway full—each pan should have about 7 oz of batter.
  • Bake the cakes at 350 F for 30-35 minutes, until the sides just start pulling away from the pan, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Let the cakes cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then gently turn them out and let them cool completely. I find it’s easiest to cut and stack cakes that have been chilled, so if you have time, wrap them with plastic wrap and put them in the freezer for at least 30 minutes, until they are firm but not frozen all the way through. If you are making these in advance, they can stay in the freezer for up to several weeks. Let them partially defrost, until they are firm but not rock-hard, before assembling.

To Make the Buttercream:

  • Combine the whites, powdered sugar, and salt in the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix everything together on low speed, until the sugar is moistened and no dry patches remain. Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula, then turn the mixer to medium speed. Beat on medium for 5 minutes.
  • After 5 minutes, turn the mixer to medium-low and start adding the softened room temperature butter, 1-2 tablespoons at a time. Once all of the butter is incorporated, add the vanilla extract and mix it in. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bottom and sides once more. Turn the speed to medium and beat the buttercream for 10 minutes. At the end, you’ll have a frosting with a wonderfully light and creamy texture.

To Assemble and Decorate:

  • Place the cakes on small cake cardboard rounds, and set one on a cake turntable. Use a sharp serrated knife to cut it into 3 layers. Spread a layer of white buttercream between each layer, and cover the top and sides with a thin layer of frosting.
  • Repeat with the other cakes, so they are all layered and covered with a thin coat of frosting. Refrigerate while you prepare the buttercream.
  • Divide the remaining buttercream into smaller bowls. Leave some white, and color the rest different shades of blue, purple, and pink. You can do as many colors as you want, but I like to do at least 4-5 to give all the cakes a different look. Fit a piping bag with a large star tip – I recommend a Wilton 2D, but a 1M would also work.
  • To make multi-colored flowers, lay out a piece of plastic wrap about 16 inches long. Spread a rectangle of frosting on the plastic wrap, about 10 inches by 6 inches.
  • Take a second color of frosting and spread it on top of the first. If desired, add a third or even a fourth color on top. Roll the frosting over itself to make a cylinder.
  • Grasp the ends of the plastic wrap in each hand, and twirl it quickly so the frosting is burrito-shaped and the ends of the plastic are tightly twisted. Snip off one of the plastic wrap “tails” and insert the frosting cylinder into the piping bag, snipped-side down.
  • Pipe big, messy stars all over the cake. You don’t actually want them to look like stars, so twist and turn the bag as you pipe them to make them a free-form blossom shape. Layer them on top of each other so they don’t look too neat. When you’re finished with a cake and done with that color combination, remove the extra frosting in the plastic wrap, and add a different cylinder of frosting. (It’s an easy way to change colors without changing piping bags!)
  • Repeat until all of the cakes are decorated. For the best taste and texture, serve them at room temperature.

Video

Recipe Notes

For the cake, you may use egg whites that you’ve separated, or use pasteurized 100% egg whites from a carton. For the buttercream, since the egg whites are not cooked, pasteurized whites from a carton are necessary for food safety reasons.
The cake recipe is adapted from a white cake in Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Cake Bible. (An excellent book that I highly recommend!) The frosting recipe is my Easiest Swiss Meringue, adapted from a recipe by Lauren Kitchens.

MEASURING TIPS

Our recipes are developed using weight measurements, and we highly recommend using a kitchen scale for baking whenever possible. However, if you prefer to use cups, volume measurements are provided as well. PLEASE NOTE: the adage “8 oz = 1 cup” is NOT true when speaking about weight, so don’t be concerned if the measurements don’t fit this formula.

Click here to learn more about baking measurements and conversion.

Nutrition

Calories: 946 kcal | Carbohydrates: 101 g | Protein: 7 g | Fat: 58 g | Saturated Fat: 37 g | Cholesterol: 153 mg | Sodium: 303 mg | Potassium: 216 mg | Fiber: 1 g | Sugar: 82 g | Vitamin A: 1810 IU | Calcium: 90 mg | Iron: 0.3 mg
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Photo of Hydrangea Cakes with text overlay for Pinterest.
Elizabeth LaBau

About Elizabeth LaBau

I’m Elizabeth, but you can call me SugarHero! I’m a former pastry chef turned blogger, cookbook author, and baking instructor, and I consider myself sugar’s #1 fan. Learn more from my About page, or connect with me on social media:

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Editor's Note

This post may contain Amazon affiliate links. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, which is an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.  For more information, see my Disclaimer and Disclosure Policy.

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