Minimalist Cake – Delicious Simplicity and Elegance

If you’re planning a special event and need inspiration for a cake, look no further than minimalist cakes.  These cakes may sound simple, but they are gorgeous and delicious!

Minimalist cakes are simple cakes with just the right icing designs for any occasion from birthdays to weddings.  These cakes start with simple recipes, simple designs, and end with lots of flavor.  Whether it’s vanilla, chocolate, or even carrot cake, there’s a minimalist cake for any occasion.

You’ve got a birthday party to plan-what kind of cake do you want to make?  Looking for a simply gorgeous and delicious cake that won’t steal the spotlight?

What Is a Minimalist Cake?

Minimalist cakes are simply made and decorated cakes for any occasion.  They’re not overly decorated or iced, but they still pack a punch when it comes to flavor.  Minimalist cakes are generally round, simply beautiful, and very delicious.

A minimalist cake is a simple and elegant cake that embraces clean lines and minimal decoration. It often features a streamlined design, incorporating only a few key elements to create a visually appealing and sophisticated presentation.

White cake with chocolate frosting - Minimalist Cake - Gone Minimal
White cake with chocolate frosting

How Do you Make a Minimalist Cake?

A minimalist cake begins with a simple recipe.  One of my favorites is to grab a box of store-bought cake mix and follow the directions on the back.  You can of course make ingredient substitutions as shown on the box or any recipe you choose, and according to researchers Shirai, Seneviratne, Gordon, and McGuinness of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Chen of IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, substitutions are often made for flavor profile, dietary restrictions, or even modification of nutritional contents. 

Minimalist cakes can even be made with “clean” ingredients like dates, avocado, raw cacao powder, and apple cider vinegar for more natural eating according to Ella Mills, as reviewed by Rachel O’Neill of London School of Economics and Political Science.

A minimalist cake begins with a simple recipe.

However, if you want to start from scratch, here’s a simple vanilla cake and buttercream icing recipe you can try:

Simple Vanilla Cake

Dry Ingredients:

  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp salt

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 3 large eggs (at room temperature)
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup milk (whole works best, also at room temperature)
A simple chocolate cake - Minimalist Cake - Gone Minimal
A simple chocolate cake

Preheat your oven to 350oF.  Grease and flour the cake dish of your choice (it doesn’t have to be round!).  Whisk together all of the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Then cream the butter and sugar together, either by hand or with a mixer.  Once it looks pale and fluffy (after about 5 minutes), add the eggs one at a time and the vanilla.  Once those are well incorporated, alternate adding the dry ingredient mixture and milk a little at a time.  Make sure it’s mixed well after each incorporation. 

Then pour the cake batter into your cake dish.  Place in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes (less time for dark or non-stick dishes).  Test doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center of the cake-it should come out clean or only with a couple of crumbs.  Let the cake cool on a rack for about 10 minutes then turn the cake out to finish cooling on a wire rack.

Then for the icing, you can buy some at the grocery store or make your own:

Simple Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

  • 2 ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ¾ cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • ¾ tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp milk or heavy whipping cream

Start by whipping the butter with a mixer until it gets light and creamy, about 5 minutes.  Then slowly start adding the powdered sugar, mixing at low speed.  Add vanilla and mix at medium-high speed for about 3 minutes.  Then add milk or heavy whipping cream, mixing at medium-high speed for at least 3 minutes to make the frosting light and fluffy.

Buttercream frosting on vanilla cakes - Minimalist Cake - Gone Minimal
Buttercream frosting on vanilla cakes

Make sure your cake is fully cooled before you frost it.  For a minimalist cake, it doesn’t have to be fancy with piping and words and flowers-a simple coating of icing could be just what you need.  But it’s completely up to you how truly minimalist you want your cake to be.

What Is Minimalist Cake Design?

Minimalist cake design is about making simple frosting colors and designs on a single or two layer cake, sometimes with borders and words or letters.  There are many varieties of minimalist cake designs-from a simple white cake with “hbd” (happy birthday) in a different color of  frosting to cake with multiple swipes of just a few pastel colors and no words or letters. 

I’ve even seen one that looks like an ocean wave is crashing across the top-it’s stunning!  Minimalist cake design is about simplicity and beauty in a no-frills cake that still gets the intended message across. 

Cake frosting pipes - Minimalist Cake - Gone Minimal
Cake frosting pipes

Types of Minimalist Cakes by Occasion

Many occasions are marked and celebrated with cake, and you can never go wrong with cake!  From office parties to block parties, cakes are always devoured and enjoyed by most partygoers.  Let’s look at the most frequently cake-oriented occasions.

Minimalist Birthday Cake

Minimalist birthday cakes are appropriate for just about everyone (except my teenage son, who prefers cookie cake).  When you think about it, what do you like most about birthday cakes?  It’s the icing, of course!  Minimalist birthday cake still has plenty of icing (and cake), it’s just simpler than the commercial birthday cake.  It’s still a great way to celebrate anyone’s birthday!

Minimalist Wedding Cake

You’ve seen them all-the Taj Mahal, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the geode, and I’m just talking about those super-fancy wedding cakes that cost a fortune!  What happens in the end?  We take a few pictures and eat it.  Minimalist wedding cakes are still beautiful, have multiple layers, but are more affordable and just simply beautiful and elegant.  If I had it to do over again, I’d go minimalist for my wedding cake for sure!

Wedding cake with flowers - Minimalist Cake - Gone Minimal
Wedding cake with flowers

Popular Minimalist Cake Flavors

Cakes for every occasion are available in numerous flavors and styles, most fairly easy to make just with ingredients many people keep on hand.  Let’s take a look at the most popular minimalist cake flavors.

Minimalist Vanilla Cake

There are of course variations of the minimalist vanilla cake from the recipe above.  From gluten-free to sugar-free, there’s a vanilla cake for everyone and every occasion.  What’s great about the minimalist vanilla cake batter is it can be adapted to several different flavors and colors with the simple addition of ingredients and food coloring.  Simple to make and bake, simple to decorate, and simple to enjoy! 

What’s great about the minimalist vanilla cake batter is it can be adapted to several different flavors and colors with the simple addition of ingredients and food coloring.

Minimalist Chocolate Cake

To make things super simple, the minimalist chocolate cake only takes the addition of one ingredient to the vanilla cake recipe-1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder.  Might I also suggest a chocolate buttercream icing?  Just add ½ cup of unsweetened cocoa powder to the vanilla buttercream recipe and ¼ cup milk (rather than 1 tbsp milk).  ANY day is a good day for a minimalist chocolate cake!

Minimalist Carrot Cake

Another popular cake flavor is carrot, which is a little more involved to make but just as delicious.  I consider it “healthy” because it involves shredded carrots!  There are many different versions of this one as well, and you can choose which recipe to use (simple, vegan, low-carb, etc.).  Don’t forget the cream cheese icing-that’s the best part!  Whether it’s someone’s favorite flavor for their birthday or for Easter, minimalist carrot cakes are moist and delicious!

Check out this helpful cake recipe and decoration video below for a super simple minimalist cake for any occasion.

Related Insights

Who Started Minimalist Cake?

The minimalist cake craze started in Korea fairly recently and has gained quite a bit of momentum online.  From the bento cake to online bloggers and social media, minimalist cakes have really taken off and taken over the baking world.

What Is the Size of a Minimalist Cake?

Minimalist cakes come in multiple sizes-from cupcakes to three-tier wedding cakes.  The size depends on the event as well as how many people will be in attendance.  They can also vary in structure-they don’t have to be round or any certain shape, they’re just simply made and decorated.

Events People Most Desire A Minimalist Cake

I asked 5 friends/family at what event would they most like a minimalist cake. (Examples: a wedding, birthday, anniversary, promotion, retirement, etc.)  Here is what they shared and what I learned from the poll:

EventTally of Family/Friends
Baby shower2
Wedding shower1
Work events2

Other Resources:

Any occasion is a good occasion for cake, and minimalist cakes can easily fit that bill.  There’s really no going wrong with this style of cake-easy to make, easy to eat, and simply beautiful.  Less is more can apply to cakes too-without eating less cake!  Now I want some cake.  So which flavor of minimalist cake is your favorite?

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