Fresh edible flowers make gorgeous and easy decorations. Top a frosted cake or a plain cake dusted with confectioners' sugar with sweet violets, lavender, honeysuckle, rose petals, borage, bachelor's buttons, johnny-jump ups, or calendulas. You can add a dollop of whipped cream so that some of your flowers are raised up off the surface of the cake; arrange the flowers like you would a floral arrangement.
- Dusting the flowers with superfine sugar adds an elegant, sparkly effect. (Candied violets and candied rose petals are available at cake decorating supply stores and some supermarkets.)
- Be sure that the flowers are clean, all the parts you are using are non-toxic, and that they are pesticide-free.
Fresh berries can be piled on top of your cake, whether plain, sugared, or glazed with a shiny syrup.
- Cut fruit will not last as long as whole berries, so be sure to serve your cake within a few hours of decorating to prevent fruit from "weeping" into the cake or frosting.
Toasted or candied nuts are terrific on carrot cakes and spice cakes. Finely chopped or coarsely ground nuts can be pressed into the sides of a frosted cake, or along the bottom edge, for added flavor and texture (and to hide thumbprints, dents or other small flaws).
Use a vegetable peeler to shave curls off of a large chocolate block. Warm the chocolate slightly by rubbing the palm of your hand over the surface a few times. (For best results, use a thick baker's block of chocolate, not a thin candy bar-sized one.) Wear gloves or use a spatula when transferring them to your cake, so the heat from your hands doesn't melt them.