Ready for another easy cake decorating tutorial? Here’s something brand new that you may not have tried before: a tray bake cake! Follow this blog post step-by-step and you’ll have a uniquely portable treat on your hands.
What are tray cakes anyway?
It’s essentially just a cake you bake, decorate, and serve in a tray or a pan! This is a trending decorating technique but it’s been around for quite a while. The idea has anyway. But this recent revival is all about the piping tips, frosting colors, and sprinkles of course!
It’s extremely simple. All ingredients go into the tray bake cake pan. You bake, cook, decorate, and serve from the same pan. It’s absolutely perfect for events where you’ll have to transport your dessert, but of course, you can have fun with it at home, too!
If you know how to bake a very simple cake, you’re already one step ahead of the game. The recipe isn’t difficult, nor is the process. And you can decorate it for any occasion. We recommend doing something lovely for the mom in your life, with Mother’s Day coming up and all!
Tray Bake Cake Decorating Method
To be fair…this recipe is less of a recipe and more of a tutorial using basic steps you probably already know! No big surprises with the ingredients here.
- Your favorite cake mix like our Vanilla or Chocolate recipes.
- Buttercream frosting (we have a great tutorial right here for that!)
- Sprinkles (we recommend using our Prep School mix for a precious Mother’s Day treat, but you can grab your favorites at our shop)
Note: You can also use this recipe to make big brownie cakes or chocolate chip cookie cakes. Marble batter would be a fun surprise under all of this frosting!
If you are looking for something a little more festive, color the batter using our tutorial.
Utensils & Other Items
- Baking pan – at least 4 inches deep – we especially love square ones like these!
- Frosting bag & decorating tips (look later in the post for suggestions!)
- Non-stick cooking spray
How To Make Tray Bake Cakes
- Prepare cake batter according to instructions on the box. One box generally fits perfectly in any 4-inch deep pan. (Note: if you choose to make the cake batter from scratch, a 6-inch cake recipe should fill a 9×13 pan or 8×8 pan.)
- Prepare buttercream frosting.
- Spray the pan with non-stick cooking spray.
- Fill with cake batter.
- Bake cake according to instructions on the box or recipe. (Note: you may have to adjust the baking time, especially if you’re using a ceramic pan/dish!)
- Frost and decorate the cake using buttercream frosting and sprinkles. Look in the next section for ideas and tutorials!
Easy Tray Cake Decorating Ideas
Decorating a traybake cake is the most fun part of the entire recipe! It’s very similar to our cake pizza post some time back, just in a larger form. Here are a few tips and inspirational ideas…
Tips for decorating with frosting:
- Remember that you can dye your buttercream frosting to make things festive!
- You can make adorable flower shapes with your frosting separately if you so choose! You don’t have to put them directly on the cake at first. Pipe frosting flowers onto a sheet of wax paper, then chill them in the fridge for about a half-hour. When they set, you can then peel them off with a spatula and attach them to your cake with another dot of frosting. A great no-mess way to create something beautiful! If making multiple ones, this a great time saving tip.
- There are lots of good frosting bag piping tips to use on a tray cake. Open star tips are absolutely precious, and petal tips make great flowers. Definitely use your creativity! We used our large piping tips for the big shapes, and then #1M, #14, #21, #10 tips to fill in the gaps between the large shapes.
- When you decorate/frost the cake, create the biggest shapes first (like larger flowers) and then work around them, rather than trying to figure out how to squish everything together. You’ll thank us later!
- While you can use the same piping tip in different colors, we really think using different size and style piping tips gives your tray bake cake the punch of depth it deserves!
Sprinkle and color ideas:
- With Mother’s Day coming up, the blues, whites, yellows, and pinks of our Prep School mix are quite inspiring, don’t you think?
- Bring out our Birthday Cake mix and its rainbow deliciousness for anyone’s special day! Birthday parties are our favorite holiday to make these for!
- If you simply want to celebrate summer, you can’t do much better than our Lemon Lime mix. Capture warm yellows and greens on your tray cake!
- For fall, Thanksgiving, or Halloween: oranges, browns, blacks, whites, and our Totem Pole or Corn Field mix.
- Try our Reindeer Food mix on your tray bake cake at Christmastime! Alternatively, Snow Queen works well as a neutral wintry decoration.
What shape pans can be used for this decorating method?
We buy the square baking pans in bulk as they are our favorite. But seen here is a sheet cake pan. We’ve also used round aluminum foil pans too. Any shape works and gives a different look. We suggest using the aluminum foil pans with clear lids for pot lucks, bake sales, and cakes for gifts because you may not get them back and hello, no cleaning of another pan! 😉
Can I freeze tray bakes?
Yes, be sure to thaw your tray bake cake in the refrigerator overnight first so condensation doesn’t affect your frosting. When ready, take out and let thaw completely on counter top before serving.
How long will traybakes keep?
They will keep as long as a typical cake keeps, usually up to a week. The fresher, the better though!
What frosting recipes can be used?
You can mix and match as needed but our buttercream, cream cheese, and chocolate frosting recipes are great for this tutorial with vanilla cake, chocolate cake, or any other flavor. The white frosting recipes can be colored easily like we did below using this tutorial. We can’t wait to see what you can up with for your quick and easy traybake recipes!
Love this tray bake cake post? Check out similar posts!
Cakes, cakes, cakes! We’ll never stop talking about them, and we’ve never stopped talking about them before! Here are a few other fantastic recipes and tutorials we’ve shared: