Our girls Laurel Gallucci and Claire Thomas hit New York this month to spread the grain-free, refined sugar-free love that is Sweet Laurel Bakery and we followed along for these modern, charming tips on how to decorate cake. The cake itself is Laurel’s all-star chocolate cake recipe (yes, it’s grain, refined sugar and dairy-free and tastes like heaven!) that we’ve thoroughly O.D.’ed on already – definitely a life changing discovery if you’ve not made it yet.

The workshop, held at a Breather location, included a lesson in decorating with fresh florals and other seasonal botanicals. These mini-cakes with giant blooms are a picture-perfect DIY begging to be bookmarked for Thanksgiving, holiday entertaining or any other special celebration. Read on for the deets…

Before You Start

There are a two important things to know about when decorating with botanicals:

Some botanicals are toxic. Meaning, poisonous. Make sure to check first if the plant you want to decorate with is toxic. For instance, if you love the look of ranunculus, but know that they’re toxic in concentrated doses. you could either wrap their stems in floral tape and aluminum foil – or use those floral water tubes you can find at a DIY store. This way, the cut stem isn’t secreting into the cake. But this is definitely a “use at your own discretion” situation. Just like using raw egg, make the choice that makes you the most comfortable.

Buy organic. If you can find organic flowers, use those. You don’t want to decorate an edible item with something coated in pesticides.

Here’s a list of my favorite edible botanicals to decorate with, but remember there are so many more than just these: roses, jasmine, lavender, lilac, chrysanthemums, mint, sage, rosemary, violets, pansies, marigolds and fruit blossoms (like cherry blossoms, orange blossom, etc.).

Decorating Techniques

For decoration, I personally prefer the look of a crescent, wrapping around the edge of the cake. This way, you can create a sense of asymmetrical drama without having to use too many flowers.

SINGLE FLOWER: When something as abundant and pretty as lilac is in season, I feel like “more is more” is the way to go. I pile on bunches of it in a curve along the cake’s edge, and then press the greens into the side of the cake. You could allow the greens to poke out, but I prefer the look of greens clinging to the cake, as if its growing out of it. This look works especially well with vine plants, or flowers that hang heavily.

OMBRE: The key to this look is finding a plant that comes in a variety of hues, or using multiple types of flowers in different grades of color. Spray roses, daisies and ranunculus all come in a wonderful variety of colors.

LAUREL CROWN: I love the look of a classic laurel crown (think Caesar or a film festival winner). The key to this look is the curve with a center intersection point. I used lavender, as the stalks are quite pliable. I placed one lavender blossom, and then intersected the leaf over to create a crown shape.

Chocolate Layer Cake with Chocolate Ganache
(grain-free, refined-sugar-free and dairy-free)


For the cake:
2 cups blanched almond flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp Himalayan pink salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup water
1 Tbsp vanilla

For the vegan chocolate ganache:
4 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
4 Tbsp coconut oil
4 Tbsp maple syrup
½ cup almond butter
¼ cup almond milk or coconut milk


For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease two 6-inch round cake pans with coconut oil. Mix almond flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a medium-sized bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, maple syrup, water and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir to incorporate. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

For the vegan chocolate ganache:
Melt chocolate and coconut oil in thick saucepan or double broiler. Stir and remove from heat when melted. Slowly add maple syrup and stir to incorporate. Allow to cool. Transfer mixture to mixing bowl and beat in almond butter until a thick, whippy frosting is formed. Add almond or coconut milk as needed for consistency.

To assemble the cake:
Allow cakes to cool. Place one cake layer on a plate. Place a dollop of chocolate ganache on top of cake and smooth over the cake. Layer the second cake over the caramel layer and repeat with a layer of ganache. Store the cake in refrigerator until serving time.

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