August Cake Decorator Spotlight
Ashley Bakes Cakes
I’m so happy to be featuring Ashley from @ashley_bakescakes for August! Her Instagram feed is FULL of gorgeous clean cakes and video tutorials. If you’re not following her, you should be! Read on to get know a little bit more about her and view her gorgeous cake designs.
How did you start making cakes?
I’ve always had a major sweet tooth, which made me want to start baking about 15 years ago. I started out making cookies & brownies – nothing fancy, but always delicious! I started baking a lot more when my husband was deployed and I would send him boxes of homemade treats every week. Since I was baking a lot more, I wanted to try new recipes like French macarons and layered cakes. Cakes have always been a fun challenge for me and I love having total creative freedom over the design process. I’ve never stopped learning since I’ve started baking – and especially since I started cake decorating!
Do you have a preferred buttercream?
Yes – Swiss Meringue Buttercream is my absolute favorite to decorate with and it tastes incredible, too! It’s light & fluffy, not overly sweet, and pipes beautifully.
Do you have a favorite cake decorating technique?
Stripes, drips, and sprinkles are my favorites (my friend Brittanie calls this her decorating trifecta!). If I had to pick one technique though, it would have to be stripes!
Do you have any photography tips you can share? Your pictures are gorgeous!
Thank you! I always use natural light (thankfully I live in sunny Arizona). I use a Sony Alpha 7ii with a macro lens (50mm) as it’s great for getting those gorgeous close-ups with a bit of a blurry background. It takes a lot of practice but it’s one of my favorite parts of the cake process; the cakes don’t last forever, but the photographs do!
Where are your favorite places to find cake inspiration?
Everywhere! I’m a huge fan of snacks and cereal, so sometimes taking a stroll down the aisles at the grocery store can spark inspiration for new flavors. I also have a serious love for Sweetapolita sprinkles – the colors are so gorgeous that sometimes I make cakes completely inspired by the sprinkle medley!
Do you have any favorite tools in your cake decorating kit?
I couldn’t live without my Ateco turntable or Evil Cake Genius contour combs/cake scrapers. They are key to getting smooth sides and sharp edges!
Do you have any advice for a fellow baker who is getting started with cake decorating?
My advice would be to bake & decorate whatever makes your heart happy. Don’t compare your beginning to someone else who has years of experience (comparison is the thief of joy!). There is a huge learning process with baking but it’s incredible to look back and see the progress you’ve made. Lastly, don’t hesitate to ask questions of fellow bakers, there’s a wealth of resources out there!
Do you have a favorite activity to unwind and relax?
Funny you ask! Baking is my way to relax. By trade, I’m a CPA (tax accountant) so I enjoy getting creative with baking and decorating cakes.
What is your favorite cake flavor and buttercream? My favorite cake flavor and buttercream would be all chocolate! I love anything chocolate – so chocolate cake layers with dark chocolate ganache (and maybe some salted caramel) with chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream would be my first choice!
Pink Floral Ombre Beauty
Ombré stripes might be my new favorite. This was a vanilla cake with vanilla swiss meringue buttercream and homemade raspberry filling. Sometimes simple flavors are the best!
Cookies & Stripes Cake
This cake was done to support a fellow baker, sheri_wilson, who had her Instagram account hacked a few months ago. This was completely inspired by her cake designs!
Easter Bunny Cake
This one is a carrot cake filled with spiced cream cheese frosting, wrapped in Swiss meringue buttercream, and finished with the cutest spring decorations. I used palette knives to create the grass effect & a bunny cookie cutter to make the white chocolate sprinkled bunny on top. Design inspired by the amazing @tallgirlbakes.
This one was so fun! The vanilla cake layers are made with cereal milk & Lucky Charms flour (yes really!) with a marshmallow frosting and cereal filling. It was like eating a bowl of Lucky Charms in cake form.
Baby Blue & Green Donut Striped Cake
My littlest guy turned 3 so we properly celebrated with all the donuts, sprinkles & Monster Cookie cake! Peanut butter, M&M & oatmeal cake layers filled with whipped peanut butter frosting, milk chocolate ganache & mini M&Ms…another killer recipe from Baking With Blondie! Baked doughnut recipe was so yummy too from Sally’s Baking Addiction.
Love is Love Cake
This is a pink champagne cake with fresh strawberries and vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream. Sprinkle drip and styling inspired by @brittanymaycakes and @frostedfujicakes.
4th of July Popsicle Striped Cake
Nothing says America like a red & white striped cake topped with a white chocolate bomb popsicle. This was a red velvet cake (recipe from Magnolia’s Bakery) with cream cheese frosting. Popsicle drip & design inspired by the amazing Brittanie Bakes.
Purple Sprinkles Cake
Reese’s Peanut Butter cake for a special family friend! Dark chocolate cake layers filled with whipped peanut butter frosting, chocolate ganache, and chopped Reese’s peanut butter cups, wrapped in Swiss meringue buttercream.
Colorful Neon Oreo Cake
Because sometimes you just need a little Oreo cookies ‘n’ cream chocolate cake! I just wanted to decorate something based off this gorgeous @sweetapolita “Wanderlust” sprinkle medley.
Palette Knife Brushstrokes Cake
Lemon cake on repeat! This one was filled with lemon curd & blueberry compote. I loved the textured pink & purple buttercream by @thatbrunettebaker, so I had to try it for myself!
Gorgeous Tropical Cake
Lime cake layers baked into a buttery shortbread crust with a coconut white chocolate ganache filling, wrapped in vanilla SMBC. How cute are those baby coconuts? They’re actually white chocolate coconut Fererro Rocher truffles painted with milk chocolate!
Lemon Stripes Cake
This was a fluffy lemon cake layers with homemade lemon curd and vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream & lemon macarons topped with @fancysprinkles. (15% discount when you use CAKEINSPO15!)
Pretty Neapolitan Striped Cake
Vanilla, chocolate and strawberry cake layers with matching buttercreams, topped with scoops of Swiss meringue buttercream and classic waffle cones! The stripes were made easy with my Evil Cake Genius metal cake comb. (We were in the same cake collaboration, head over to see more of ice cream cake creations here.)
Thank you so much for sharing a little bit about yourself and your amazing cakes, Ashley! Be sure to follow @ashley_bakescakes to continue seeing her creations and discount codes for Sweetapolita!
Check out the past cake decorators!