Make an Ombre Cake

It’s hot out there but cake may be the best way to beat the summer heat.

Yes, cake.

This heat wave is all the more reason to find cool INDOOR activities… like practicing cake frosting techniques.

Now that my cool-down secret is out of the bag, allow me to show you how to make an Ombre cake.

ombre frosted cake

I know, I shared a cake last week.  Forgive me. I just couldn’t help it but I think you’ll like this technique.

The beauty of this cake lies in the multi-colored frosting or ombre, which means shaded color in French.

Each shade has a soft and subtle gradient that gives this dessert its dreamy appearance.

I started with a simple box cake mix and I used the easy buttercream recipe below.

Buttercream Frosting
Prep Time
15 mins
Total Time
15 mins
Sweet and simple frosting for covering any cake or cupcake.
Servings: 3 -4 cups
  • 3 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 2-4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream add one at a time, as needed for desired consistency
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla
  • Gel coloring
  1. Mix softened butter, vanilla in stand mixer until soft and fluffy.
  2. Slowly add confectioner's sugar and continue mixing.
  3. Once all sugar has been added mix until light and fluffy.
  4. Add a small drop of gel coloring and mix. Repeat if necessary to achieve desired shade.

ombre frosting bowls

A little gel food coloring goes a long way.

So, start with a small dab of coloring and then add more coloring to each bowl to darken each bowl as you go.

ombre piping bags

If the color is too light, just add more coloring.

If the frosting is too dark, adding more plain frosting may help.

Once you have the shades you like, load each bowl into its own piping bag.

ombre cake layer

I used two, 6-inch cake pans for this cake and I cut each one in half which gave me four layers.

Pipe several rows of the darkest frosting along the lower portion of the cake.

Cover about 1/3 of the cake.

cake layer ombre

Repeat the steps and cover the middle part of the cake with the medium shade of frosting.

Finally, add several rows of the lightest frosting around the upper, remaining layers of the cake.

cake frosting smoothing

Use an off-set spatula to gently smooth the icing around the entire cake.

Pipe out icing on top of the cake and then, smooth that over as well.

ombre frosted cake

It may take several passes with the off-set spatula to get the smooth effect.

It also wouldn’t hurt to run the spatula over warm water, wipe off the water.

The warm offset spatula will also help smooth the buttercream.

ombre cake and flowers

You can leave the top of the cake smooth or add floral elements for a more decorative presentation.

Or you could add buttercream peonies which you can see how to make HERE.

I personally like the the look of floral toppers.

photo setup

This is another photo shoot that I conducted in my well-lit foyer.

I love setting up props and experimenting with various textures and backdrops.

As much as I love the setup… I hate the take down and cleanup.

It’s kind of like how I feel about grocery shopping. Love putting things in the cart, hate having to put everything away when I get home.

cake ombre

ombre cake slices

If you’ve never used 6-inch cake pans, you should give them a try.

The cake is smaller but it’s also taller and I think it’s much more elegant.

It also slices beautifully.

ombre cake plates

I’ve been on a bit of a cake making and frosting binge this year for sure.

You can revisit a few of my other cakes from earlier posts, you can see them HERE, HERE and HERE.

If you’re inspired to make and ombre cake, I’d love to know how it turns out for you.

In the meantime… stay cool… and make cake.

ombre cake

Thanks for stopping by.

See  you back here next time. 


  • Martha Bilski

    So pretty Lisa. As I write I have dispatched my husband to attach a nail to some cardboard. Wish us luck. I love the six inch cake pans. I had never thought to use them and they are really a nice size for two people. Although I did use the same amount of cake batter. But I am not telling.

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Thanks Martha! You know, I’m not sure I will ever use a standard size cake pan again-lol.
      The 6-inch pans create more than enough for a family of four too.
      I also like the way the 6-inch layers stack up. They’re more boutique-ish, if you know what I mean.
      Love that you’re inspired.

  • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

    Regina, if I can make this… I promise you can too. Please try and let me know how it turns out. You’ll enjoy it. Thanks for your sweet words about my cake creations too.

  • Botanic Bleu

    The colors of the cake certainly look cool and refreshing, plus stunning! Your cakes always look almost too good to eat. And once again, your photography tips are just the best…


    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Thanks so much, Judith. I appreciate that. You know sometimes I just make a cake for the heck of it. It’s fun just to experiment.

  • [email protected] Designs

    Too beautiful to eat!!….always love seeing your photo propping!…Magnificent photography!!!

  • Puja Darshan

    Lovely cake recipe. I am a great fan of cake. This looks outrageously tempting!

  • Jeanne

    Lisa – this is magical, for sure. Looking at the photos made me smile…what lovely inspiration. So quiet and insightful…and all done with a cake. Wow!

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Thanks, Jeanne. Your comment made me smile.
      I find cake decorating really relaxing too.
      Amazing what you can do with a simple box mix, right?

  • Sherry

    Gorgeous! Thank you for sharing this beautiful technique. Your skill and attention to detail amaze me. Are you sure there wasn’t a fairy godmother waving her magic wand over your foyer setup that produced all the beauty?! Simply magical looking! Your home adds to the elegance of your creativity. Thank you for taking the time to share your work. Inspiringly motivating.

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      You’re so sweet, Sherry.
      I really appreciate that.
      So glad you like seeing my setups too. I always like to see how other people create their shots and I’m happy to share mine.
      Have a great week.

  • Marisa Franca @ All Our Way

    The cake is gorgeous! I don’t make sweets just because all of my quality control testers live out of town 🙁 It would be nice if they were nearby – I’m sure they would gladly volunteer. I love your setup. I’m still trying to find the best place. The ombre technique would be beautiful in just about any shade. Gorgeous inspiration!

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Thanks Marisa! I’m luck to have my taste testers still at home-lol.
      Also, my neighbors love me for sharing my blog posts… literally.
      I think this would look great with shades of pink with a little ivory thrown in. I may try that next.

  • Regina

    This is so beautiful and elegant, your cakes always amazes me, I don’t think I could make something even close to your cakes, but I can dream, and try, right?
    Thank for such inspiring posts.

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