How to Decorate Fall Wedding Cakes

Fall wedding cake with leaves and roses

An autumn wedding offers the perfect opportunity to create a cake that reflects the colors and flavors of the season. You can just add a simple hint of fall to your cake design, or go with a full autumn theme, including colors, flavors, and designs. Your cake is sure to be one of the biggest focal points of your reception, so explore the possibilities and look at some photos before you decide on your final design.

Basic Choices for Autumn Wedding Cakes

Before you think about decorations, there are some basic decisions to be made. Picking your flavors and colors should be at the top of your list.

Fall Flavors

A simple way to reflect the season in your wedding cake without sacrificing traditional looks is to go with an autumn-inspired flavor combination. Try pairing one of the following cake flavors with a mildly sweet buttercream or fondant that isn't overly sweet:

  • Spice
  • Ginger
  • Carrot
  • Raisin
  • Pumpkin
  • Apple
  • Maple
  • Honey
  • Nut

Colors of Autumn

An autumn palette is warm and beautiful, and you will have a very unique wedding cake if you choose one of these colors as the base for your design. For the less daring, a cake frosted in white or off-white with seasonal colored icing decorations may be the perfect choice. Consider the following colors:

  • Red
  • Brown
  • Bronze
  • Golden yellow
  • Burnt orange
  • Sage green

Decorating with Fall Flowers

Spring and summer may be the most abundant seasons for flowers, but there are a number of blossoms that shine in autumn, and they're certainly worthy of being featured on wedding cakes. Some of the most colorful include:

Chocolate wedding cake with burnt orange roses
  • Carnations
  • Amaranthus
  • Anemone
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Irises
  • Gladiolus
  • Roses
  • Sunflowers
  • Zinnias
  • Lilies

Decorating Ideas

First, decide if you want to use edible flowers, which can include blooms made from buttercream, fondant, royal icing and gum paste, or if you want to use realistic-looking silk flowers that will be removed as the cake is cut. Next, decide how you want to use them on your cake. Try these suggestions:

  • Create a cascade of blooms that drape down the cake at an angle.
  • Create a border of flowers that wraps around the base of each layer.
  • Cover the entire cake in fall blossoms like mums, sunflowers, or roses.
  • Decorate with a combination of flowers and leaves.
  • Fill the space between the tiers with flowers.
  • Top the cake with a bouquet of flowers instead of a more traditional cake topper.

Decorating a Fall Wedding Cake with Leaves

Nothing reflects the autumn season more than the sight of colorful fallen leaves. Whether you use artificial leaves or leaves made from fondant or gumpaste, a cascade of fall leaves trailing down the side of your cake will clearly convey your theme like nothing else.

Making Edible Leaves

Fall leaf decorations on a wedding cake; © Christopher Howey | Dreamstime.com

If you're planning to make your own wedding cake, you might want to try making edible leaves from fondant or gumpaste.

  1. Purchase pre-made fondant or gumpaste.
  2. Roll out the dough, and use leaf-shaped cutters in different sizes to cut out individual leaves.
  3. Run a ball tool around the edges of each leaf to give it some shape and texture.
  4. Paint each leaf with powdered food color, shading the leaves to look as realistic as possible.
  5. Arrange the leaves artistically on the covered cake.

You can also make edible leaves using candy melt disks.

  1. Purchase yellow, orange, red and chocolate disks from you local craft or cooking store.
  2. Melt each color in a separate bowl following the directions on the back of the package.
  3. Pour the melted candy into leaf-shaped candy molds, and let the leaves cool and harden before removing them from the molds.
  4. Make as many leaves as you need to decorate your cake. If you wind up with extras, you can scatter them around the base of the cake.

No matter what kind of leaves you end up making, be sure to store them in airtight containers in a cool place for safekeeping before the wedding. A good rule of thumb is that most edible decorations can be kept for up to two weeks; less for those that have perishable ingredients.

Decorating with Silk Leaves

If you're not concerned about having edible leaves, you can use silk leaves instead. Just purchase sections of fall silk garland that complement your wedding colors.

  1. Hand wash the garlands, rinse them well, and let them dry completely before you begin decorating your cake.
  2. Beginning at the back of the cake, wrap a section of garland around the bottom tier, pinning it as you go around.
  3. When you reach the point where you started, snip the garland and pin the end.
  4. Move up to the next tier, and wrap the garland around that layer as well.
  5. Continue wrapping garland around each tier, and top the cake with your chosen topper.
  6. Remember to tell the cake cutters to remove the garlands before cutting the cake.

Autumn-Inspired Cake Recipes

Once you've settled on the design details, it's time to think about baking the cake. The following recipes produce delicious cakes, and if you can't decide between these flavors, consider having layers of each to give your guests a choice.

Spiced Cake Recipe

This spice cake will really impress your guests. The recipe yields six cups of batter, and you'll need to make multiple batches to fill whichever cake pans you choose.

Ingredients

Chocolate spice wedding cake decorated with fall leaves; © Michael Haer | Dreamstime.com
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups milk

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a medium-size bowl, combine flour, baking powder, soda, and salt.
  3. In a large mixer, cream the butter and sugar together.
  4. Add the eggs, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves to the butter and sugar, and beat thoroughly.
  5. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk to the creamed ingredients, beating well after each addition.
  6. Grease your cake pans with solid vegetable shortening and dust with flour.
  7. Pour the batter your pan(s).
  8. Bake for the appropriate amount of time according to your pan size, or until top of the cake springs back when touched lightly in the center.
  9. Let the pans cool for 12 minutes, and then run a spatula around the edges and remove.

Chocolate Spice Cake Variation

To make a chocolate spice wedding cake, follow the recipe above. Once you've incorporated the milk and flour mixture, beat in 3 ounces of melted, unsweetened chocolate, and bake as directed.

Butter Pecan Cake

You'll love the delicately nutty flavor of this cake. The recipe yields about seven cups of batter, so plan on making enough batches to fill as many pans as you need.

Fall cake; image courtesy of Plinio Sandalio

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons butter pecan flavoring
  • 1 cup milk

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour with the baking powder and salt, and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs one by one, beating well after each one.
  5. Beat in the vanilla and butter pecan flavorings.
  6. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk to the creamed ingredients, beating well after each addition.
  7. Pour the batter into greased and floured pans.
  8. Bake for the appropriate amount of time according to your pan size, or until the top of the cake springs back when touched lightly in the center.
  9. Let the pans cool for 15 minutes, and then run a spatula around the edges and remove.

A Cake That Will Be Remembered

Featuring a fall theme cake at your reception is a thoughtful, seasonal choice that guests are likely to remember and appreciate. Whether you go with the traditional autumn flowers or leaves, or choose an idea that's a bit more unconventional, the odds are good that you'll end up with a cake that will superbly fit the occasion and help you remember one of the most treasured days in your life for years to come.

How to Decorate Fall Wedding Cakes