6 Expert Tips for Making Hidden Design Cakes

Posted by on May 25, 2014 in Cake Decorating |


To some cake decorators, the world of hidden design cakes might seem as elusive and mysterious as buried treasure. However, this fun and crowd-pleasing method of cake decorating from the inside out is surprisingly accessible, and with a little practice, fantastic and professional-looking results can be attained.

Rainbow Heart Surprise Inside Cakes

Rainbow heart cake via Craftsy member palatiello

You can master the art of surprise-inside cakes with the online Craftsy class Decorating From the Inside Out, which demystifies the steps behind creating these unique treats. Instructor Amanda Rettke, considered a pioneer of surprise-inside cake decorating, breaks down the steps into manageable segments, so you can re-create five amazing cakes, each one with a totally sweet surprise!

To jump-start your education on surprise-inside cakes, we hit up two experts in the field for some helpful tips about making surprise-inside cakes: Craftsy instructor Amanda Rettke, and Megan Seling, founder of Bake it in a Cake, a website dedicated to baking all sorts of treats inside of cakes. Both of these talented ladies dish up some sweet wisdom on baking surprise-inside cakes, including favorite tools, quick tips and things they wished they’d known when they started out.

Surprise Inside Love Cake

Love cake via Craftsy instructor Amanda Rettke

Amanda Rettke’s tips for success

As previously noted, Amanda Rettke is considered a pioneer of the surprise-inside cake trend. She’s baked any and every type of shape into cakes, from rainbow hearts embedded in layer cakes to amazing easter egg designs. Here are some of her tips for success:

1. Layer it with love.

I recommend starting with layer cakes. This is a great way to get used to the idea of using food colors as well as actually handling the cake and getting comfortable with how it feels. When you are leveling the cake and then stacking the layers you develop a great understanding for consistency and for texture. When ready to move on to designs, start with something simple.

Layered Cakes

Love cake via Craftsy instructor Amanda Rettke

2. Twice is just as nice.

A great place to get your feet wet is with the baking twice method. Prepare a sheet cake and chill it. Then using the shape of choice (a heart for instance) you would cut out many hearts with your cookie cutter. Prepare another cake batter and place a very small amount in the bottom of your prepared cake pan. Then place your heart shape (of already baked cake) into the batter. Pour remaining batter over the top and bake. This method is wonderful for really personalizing your surprise-inside cake, as you can create names, scenes and even the solar system!

Heart Inside Cake

Heart cake via Craftsy member dpauls

3. Chill out.

I always recommend working with chilled cakes in any method of surprise-inside cake. This will ensure the most success. I also recommend just getting in there and doing it! People are afraid of what their cake will look like when they cut into it, wether it will be perfect or not. The best thing about creating surprise-inside cakes? It’s CAKE! No matter what your cake looks like, it will still taste amazing. People will love the time and effort you put into it and will forever be talking about “that” cake.

Peanut Butter Cake

Photo via Bake it in a Cake

Megan Seling’s tips for success

The founder of Bake it In a Cake is known for embedding all sorts of things in cakes, from candies to cookies to even mini pies. She is the author of Bake it In a Cupcake. Here are her top tips for embedding treats in cake:

1. Bake it before putting it in a cake.

One great thing to remember, when baking different baked goods into a cake or cupcake, is always bake the thing that goes inside first. It won’t burn, I promise! A lot of people seem to think that putting a fully baked little pie into a cupcake will result in a burnt center, but as long as you cover that pie completely with cake batter, it will be protected. It’ll get hot, of course, but it doesn’t continue to bake because the cake batter bakes from the outside in.

Cute Rain Cupcakes

Photo via Bake it in a Cake

2. Cookie scoops rule.

The one tool that has been the most helpful is my small cookie dough scoop. It was inexpensive and I use it constantly it to scoop the batter into pans all the time to ensure I get even amounts. It’s sometimes harder to measure out how much batter goes into each tin when you have a lemon bar or brownie in there, so the scoop helps me control the amount (and mess) a bit. It was a lifesaver. Once I started using that, I ended up with a lot less drips and fewer overflowing cupcakes.

Use Cookie Scoop for Cupcakes

Photo via Bake it in a Cake

3. Intelligent experimentation is wonderful.

Don’t be afraid to experiment! I’ve had a lot of messy, failed attempts. Really sugary, soft candy like jelly beans, Starbursts and gummies can’t be baked into cake- they just melt into sugar goo and make it so the cake never completely sets (and sometimes they turn weird baby poop colors—gross). I think I tried Starburst in about five different variations: frozen, chopped, ground up, etc before giving up on them. But you have to try, you know? (FYI, they’re great melted down and whipped up into buttercream!) I’ve found that when working with a new ingredient I always bake one or two cupcakes first. That way you can see if your idea worked before committing a whole batch of batter to the idea. That gets expensive, trust me.

Learn how to employ the element of surprise for your most memorable cakes yet in the online Craftsy class Decorating From the Inside Out! Join today to make extraordinary surprise-inside cakes that are unlike anything partygoers have ever seen!

What’s your favorite tip for baking surprise-inside cakes?