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Bake It Easy: 10 Modern Takes on Traditional Buttercream Borders

Upgrade your next buttercream cake creation by topping it off with one of these 10 gorgeous and modern buttercream borders!

Buttercream Rosette Border | Erin Gardner | Bluprint

All images via Erin Bakes

It’s no secret buttercream is back in a BIG way. Old rules about color, shape and size are out the window — but the traditional techniques remain the same. And here’s the best news: Every single one of these buttercream border ideas is easily executed by a caking newbie or a seasoned pro.

All of the borders below would work as a crowning touch to either the top edge or bottom edge of your cake. I’ve demonstrated the borders on a small layer cake, but they’d all look great a single layer cake, sheet cake or even loaf cake!

How to pipe 10 modern & beautiful buttercream borders

Drop stars & dots border

Buttercream Drop Stars and Dots | Erin Gardner | Bluprint

. Using a combination of tip sizes, shapes and colors is an easy way to make an absolutely stunning cake with this super simple technique.

Drop Dot Steps | Erin Gardner | Bluprint
  1. Fit a piping bag (or multiple piping bags) with either a round or star tip of any size and fill the bag(s) with buttercream.
  2. Hold the bag vertically over the top edge of the cake wherever you want your first star or dot to land.
  3. Apply pressure to the bag allowing the buttercream to billow out into a rounded dot or star shape, depending on which tip you’re using.
  4. Release pressure and pull the bag directly up and away.
  5. Repeat this process using multiple colors and tips, like I did, or stick with one color and tip for a more monochromatic look. 

Shell border

Bottom Shell Border | Erin Gardner | Bluprint

Classics are classic for a reason — they never go out of style. The buttercream shell border is one of those classics. It’s appropriate for any occasion and looks great in every color of the rainbow. 

Shell Border Steps | Erin Gardner | Bluprint
  1. Fit a piping bag with a star tip and fill it with buttercream.
  2. Hold the tip of the bag slightly behind where you’d like your first shell to sit.
  3. Apply pressure to the bag and quickly move the tip away from you then back toward yourself.
  4. Release pressure and pull the bag down and away from the cake, making a little hump of buttercream.
  5. Start your next shell over the tail of the first shell.
  6. Repeat this process all the way around your cake. 

Reverse shell border

Reverse Shell Buttercream Border | Erin Gardner | Bluprint

The reverse shell border is very similar to its standard cousin, just turned on its side! I used a larger star tip here, but you can use any size you like. 

Reverse Shell Steps | Erin Gardner | Bluprint
  1. Fill a pipping bag fitted with a star tip with buttercream.
  2. Hold the tip over the surface of your cake and position it so that it sits in the center of where you’d like your reverse shell to go.
  3. Apply pressure to the bag and move sideways to one side then back toward the center, almost like making half of a rosette.
  4. Release pressure and pull the bag down and away from the cake.
  5. Start your next reverse shell over the tail of the one before. This time pipe the swirl in the opposite direction by moving the bag to the other side when piping the shell.
  6. Alternate side to side from shell to shell all the way around the cake. 

Pearl border

Piped Buttercream Pearl Border | Erin Gardner | Bluprint

The bottom edge of this cake is piped with another classic piping technique — the pearl border. Petite pearls pair perfectly with any finish, while larger, chunky pearls would finish off a more whimsical cake beautifully. 

Pearl Border Steps | Erin Gardner | Bluprint
  1. Fill a piping bag fitted with a round tip with buttercream. The size of your pearl border will correlate directly with the size of the tip that you use.
  2. Hold the tip at a slight angle pointing at the spot you’d like it to land on the cake.
  3. Apply pressure to the bag. Allow the buttercream to billow out into a small ball.
  4. Release pressure and pull the tip away from the cake.
  5. Start the next pearl alongside the first one and repeat all around the cake. 

Chunky scroll border

Chunky Scroll Buttercream Border | Erin Gardner | Bluprint

This border is a perfect example of how playing with size and color can breathe new life into a classic technique. I used a large star tip while piping this border, but you can use either a round or star tip in any size you like. 

Pearl Border Steps | Erin Gardner | Bluprint
  1. Fit a piping bag with either a round or star tip and fill it with buttercream.
  2. Hold the tip of the bag directly over the surface of the cake and apply pressure while piping a tight S shape. Allow the buttercream to make contact with the cake, move to the side, cross over below where you started, move in the opposite direction, then release pressure and pull the bag up and away back towards where you started.
Writing the explanation is far more complicated than actually doing it. I thought I owed you more than just, “Pipe an S.” 

Vertical ruffle border

Vertical Ruffle Border | Erin Gardner | Bluprint

Turn traditional ruffles on their side, literally, with a vertical piped ruffle border. These squiggly cuties are perfect for any celebration cake. They look just like streamers! 

Pearl Border Steps | Erin Gardner | Bluprint
  1. Fill a piping bag fitted with a rose piping tip with buttercream.
  2. Hold the bag vertically alongside the cake with the fat end of the tip closest to the cake.
  3. Apply pressure and wiggle the bag back and forth as you move the bag upward.
  4. Release pressure and pull the tip up and away from the cake.
  5. Repeat all the way around the edge. 

Flat ruffle border

Vertical Ruffle Border | Erin Gardner | Bluprint

The bottom edge of the cake above is piped using a flat or horizontal ruffle technique. This border is a sweet way to finish off a cake topped with buttercream florals or frilly feminine cake. The piping technique is similar to piping a shell border, just using different tip.

Flat Ruffle Steps | Erin Gardner | Bluprint
  1. Fit a piping bag with a leaf tip and fill it with buttercream. You can also use any other tip with a wider opening, like a basketweave or rose tip.
  2. Start with the bag a little behind where you’d like your ruffle to land on the cake.
  3. Apply pressure to the bag and quickly move the tip away from you then back toward you.
  4. Release pressure and pull the bag down and away from the cake.
  5. Start your next ruffle over the tail of the first one and repeat all the way around the cake. 

Russian tip flower border 

This technique is newer to the buttercream border family, since these tips have only been available in the U.S. for a few years now. If you’re new to these tubes, check out my earlier post on how to use Russian piping tips. What these tips lack in detail compared to traditionally piped flowers, they more than make up for with speed and ease of use. 

Russian Tip Flower Border Steps | Erin Gardner | Bluprint
  1. Fill a piping bag fitted with a Russian floral tip with buttercream.
  2. Hold the bag vertically over the surface of the cake.
  3. Apply pressure as you pull the bag directly up.
  4. Release pressure when your flower is about ¾ as tall as you’d like it to be. Pull the bag up and away from the cake. (If you’re new to Russian tips, it’s best to start by piping shorter flowers until you get the hang of things.)
  5. Use a toothpick or the tip of a knife to fix any floppy petals. 

Braided border

Braided Buttercream Border | Erin Gardner | Bluprint

A beautifully piped braided buttercream border is the perfect finishing touch to any celebration cake! I’ve used a large star tip here, but like many of the other borders in this post, you can use whatever size or shape tip you’d like. 

Braided Border Steps | Erin Gardner | Bluprint
  1. Fill a piping bag fitted with a star (or other) tip with buttercream.
  2. Hold the tip at the edge of the cake.
  3. Apply pressure and pipe a straight line at an angle coming in from the edge of the cake. Release pressure and pull the bag down and away from the cake.
  4. Hold the tip next to the first line about halfway up. Apply pressure and pipe another straight line this time angled toward the outer edge of the cake. Pipe the line so that it crosses over the end of the first line.
  5. Repeat this process going back and forth all the way around the cake. 

Rosette border 

Buttercream Rosette Border | Erin Gardner | Bluprint

Covering a cake with big, beautiful buttercream rosettes has become a modern cake design staple thanks to Bluprint instructor Amanda Rettke. Those same rosettes also make a great cake border! 

Rosette Border Steps | Erin Gardner | Bluprint
  1. Fill a piping bag fitted with a small star tip with buttercream.
  2. Hold the tip of the bag directly in the center of where you’d like the rosette on the cake.
  3. Apply pressure to the bag and move in a clockwise directly all the way around the center point.
  4. Release pressure when you get back to where you started and pull the bag down and away from the cake.
  5. Start your next rosette directly beside the first one or slightly overlapping it. Repeat all the way around the cake. 

Buttercream bonus tip! 

Piping bag filled with two kinds of buttercream | Erin Gardner | Bluprint

By now you’ve noticed that many of my borders were a swirly fun mix of pink and yellow.

To recreate this look, first add your piping tip to the bag. Then, open the bag up over your non-dominate hand or a tall glass. Spread one color of buttercream all over the sides of the bag and add a second color to the center of the bag. Gather the ends of the bag together, twist the bag to seal it shut, and get piping!

 Piping bag filled with two colors of buttercream | Erin Gardner | Bluprint

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