How to Put Sprinkles on the Side of a Cake

When I think of a celebration cake, the first thing that comes to mind is a tall, fluffy layer cake completely covered in rainbow sprinkles – those tiny colored sugar crystals that instantly liven up any baked good. For me, sprinkles are the quintessential decor for any special occasion, from birthdays to holidays. Beyond aesthetics, there’s just something so fun about their crunchy texture and ability to transform a basic cake into a party showstopper.

In this guide, I’ll share everything I’ve learned over the years about successfully getting sprinkles to adhere to the sides and edges of cakes. With the right prep and techniques, you can easily coat all surfaces of your cake for a spectacular speckled creation. Let’s get started!

Key Methods for Putting Sprinkles on Cake Sides

When it comes to putting sprinkles on the side of a cake, there are four key methods to choose from:

Using Fresh Frosting

This is my go-to technique for any cake that I want to cover completely in sprinkles, as the fresh frosting allows the sprinkles to stick easily. Here’s how to do it:

  • Frost the cooled cake, making sure you seal in crumbs for a smooth surface. The frosting must be soft and pliable – not frozen.
  • Place the cake on a turntable or cake stand to allow you to turn it as you sprinkle. This makes it easy to coat all sides evenly.
  • Tilt your hand at a 45-degree angle and gently sprinkle sprinkles onto the sides, turning the cake slowly with your other hand. Use a light flicking motion with your wrist to control sprinkle flow.
  • Work swiftly before the frosting crusts over. Any excess sprinkles can be pressed on at the end for full coverage.

The Frozen Method

If you want sprinkles to completely coat the sides of your cake, this two-step method helps them adhere:

  • Freeze the frosted cake for 30-60 minutes until firm. This allows you to flip it over without damaging the shape.
  • Spread a thin layer of fresh frosting on the bottom of the frozen cake and firmly press sprinkles onto the fresh frosting. Work in batches to keep the frosting soft.
  • Flip the cake over and repeat the process to cover the top and other sides as needed for full coverage.

Rolling the Cake

Smaller cakes and cupcakes can easily be rolled to coat with sprinkles:

  • Pour sprinkles onto a baking sheet or large plate. Make sure you have an even layer.
  • Gently roll the frosted cake or cupcake in the sprinkles so they stick to all sides in one motion. This messy method works quickly but can waste sprinkles.

Adding to Fondant

For fondant-covered cakes, there are a couple options:

  • Brush water or piping gel onto the fondant then apply sprinkles to the moistened areas. The fondant needs to be fresh.
  • Alternatively, add a thin layer of buttercream then press on sprinkles. This adds sweetness but can cause sliding.

Tips for Applying Sprinkles to Cake Sides

Now that you know the main techniques, here are some additional expert tips to ensure sprinkles look perfect on your cake sides:

  • Use fresh, high-quality sprinkles – old or cheap sprinkles can bleed color or fall off. Store extra sprinkles in an airtight container.
  • Work swiftly before frosting crusts over to allow sprinkles to adhere. Don’t refrigerate an unfrosted cake – the sides will sweat and prevent sticking.
  • Avoid overcrowding sprinkles – pressing on too many will make them slide off the sides. Layer them in stages for best results.
  • Refrigerate the cake for 10-15 minutes after applying sprinkles to help them set. Then box and store covered at room temperature.
  • Consider cake density and shape – lighter cakes hold fewer sprinkles while heartier cakes can handle more coverage.
  • Match sprinkle size to cake – larger sprinkles suit bigger cakes, while mini sprinkles best fit cupcakes and petit fours.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about achieving perfectly sprinkled cake sides:

How early can I put sprinkles on a cake?

It’s best to wait until no more than 12 hours before serving. Any earlier risks color bleeding and sliding. Right before display is ideal.

Should I put sprinkles on before or after baking?

Always apply sprinkles after baking when the cake is completely cool and frosted. Putting them on before baking can burn the sugars and alter the intended effect.

Do sprinkles expire or go bad?

Sprinkles have an indefinite shelf life if stored properly in a cool, dry place. The high sugar content prevents them from spoiling. Older sprinkles may start to lose their color vibrancy but are still safe to eat.

Will sprinkles stick to buttercream frosting?

Fresh, soft buttercream is ideal for getting sprinkles to adhere on contact. If the buttercream is too firm or hardened, the sprinkles won’t stick well. Always use freshly whipped buttercream that hasn’t crusted over.

Final Tips for Sensational Sprinkled Sides

Adding sprinkles truly takes any cake up a notch. With the techniques I’ve outlined, you can easily coat cake sides for an impressive speckled creation perfect for your next celebration. Here are a few parting thoughts:

  • Take advantage of fresh frosting – it offers the easiest and most foolproof application method.
  • Don’t fret over imperfections – sprinkled cakes have an inherent homemade, whimsical look.
  • Experiment with color palettes and combinations to achieve your ideal aesthetic. Contrasting colors pop beautifully.
  • Have fun and embrace the mess! Sprinkling is a tactile process meant to be enjoyed.

Let your creativity run wild and feel empowered to put spectacular sprinkles on your next cake side. Happy decorating!

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