Let me show you how to make an Ugly Christmas Sweater Cake for the holidays this year! It's easy to make using a 13x9 pan to bake your favorite cake mix, then frost with homemade buttercream and add some crazy cute details to make it the ugliest sweater cake at the Christmas party! It's actually a cute sweater!
It's the holiday season and also Ugly Sweater season! Have you ever been to an Ugly Sweater party? A lot of you most likely know what I'm talking about, but just in case, let me explain. It's a party where everyone attending wears an ugly sweater (also known as a Christmas sweater with lots of different colors and goofy holiday decorations all over it).
Why I love this perfect ugly Christmas sweater cake
• To tell you the truth, I secretly love "ugly" Christmas sweaters (or tacky Christmas sweaters) and I'm so glad that these parties are in style now, so that I can wear fun, festive sweaters and not feel embarrassed. (Shhhh! Don't tell. Thanks!)
• We are going to an ugly sweater party (tacky sweater party) in just a couple of weeks, so I wanted to do a test run on a cute cake that looks like said garment. It's an Ugly Christmas Cake and isn't it adorable! I just love it! All the bright colors and cheerful designs that you'd find on the actual cloth version. So much fun. And scrumptious too! It's a yellow cake underneath with a homemade buttercream frosting on top.
• Decorating the cake was easy with BUTTERFINGER Jingle Bells and NESTLÉ CRUNCH Jingles. The brightly colored foil was just the right touch for my cake. I found them at Walmart in the seasonal section. But hurry, because they won't be there long.
• It reminds me of 80's Christmas sweaters since that is when the ugly Christmas sweater trend got started.
• This cake is perfect for ugly sweater parties and Christmas parties! I also have some ugly sweater cookies that you must try. It includes a great royal icing recipe.
What you need
Cake Mix - Your favorite flavor.
Butter - Unsalted butter, softened.
Powdered Sugar - I like to buy the kind that comes in a big plastic bag because you don't have to sift it. Normally found at any grocery store.
Red Food Coloring Gel - This is much better than regular food coloring because it's thicker and more concentrated. Find it in the cake decorating section of your local department store or craft store. And it makes your icing super red.
Green Fondant - You only need a very small amount. They sell small packages at Walmart or you could order it online. If you can't find it, you could substitute a piece of green gum because it represents the tag of the sweater.
Foil Wrapped Chocolate Candy (holiday themed) - We used BUTTERFINGER Jingle Bells and NESTLÉ CRUNCH Jingles. These are often found in your local dollar stores.
How to make this ugly holiday sweater cake
I used a yellow cake mix for this recipe. I prepared it according to the package instructions and baked in a greased 13" x 9" baking pan for about 30 minutes at 350°F. Then I let it cool completely. (It's actually ideal if you can cover and refrigerate the cake for a few hours before decorating but you don't have to if you're in a hurry.)
Meanwhile, whip up this super awesome buttercream frosting. I've posted this recipe before, but it's just so delicious. I think it's especially important to use homemade frosting if you're using a store bought mix for the cake. After mixing up the frosting, I reserved about 1 ½ cups to keep white and then colored the rest red. I used red food coloring paste. Set aside ⅓ cup of red frosting, then use the rest to frost the cake.
Next step. After frosting the cake in red, put it in the refrigerator for about an hour, so it will set.
You'll need 3 pastry bags for decorating. One with a #3 tip (red frosting), one with a #5 tip (white) and one with a #1M tip (white).
For the label of the sweater, I used a little bit of green fondant, rolled it out and cut into a small rectangle. Then I piped the word "ugly" with the red frosting. Use the #1M tip to pipe the lines to create the neck of the sweater and the middle section for the buttons. Add chocolate chips for the buttons. Use the #5 tip to pipe the strings for the Christmas lights. I also added some holiday candies for an added touch.
Bake Your Cake: Making your own ugly Christmas sweater cake is easy. Bake your favorite cake in a rectangular shape to resemble the sweater's base.
Frosting: Cover the cake with a layer of frosting. Use a buttercream to create a smooth base for decorating.
Ugly Christmas Sweater Design: Use frosting to create the sweater's pattern. Consider making zig-zags, Christmas trees, reindeers, snowflakes, or other holiday-themed designs. The key is to make it look intentionally mismatched and quirky.
Add Details on your Ugly Christmas Sweater Pattern: Use candies, sprinkles, or edible decorations to add more details to the sweater design. Buttons, bows, or even small fondant patches can enhance the "ugly" factor.
Personalize it: Add a fun message or personalize it with the recipient's name to make it even more special.
Finishing Touches: Once you're satisfied with the design, step back and evaluate if any final touches or adjustments are needed before presenting the best ugly Christmas sweater cake at the party.
Frequently asked questions
What kind of cake works best for an ugly yet cute Christmas sweater cake? A dense and sturdy cake like a yellow cake works well as it can hold its shape when carved or decorated.
Can I use fondant for decorating an ugly sweater cake? Yes, fondant is a great option for creating intricate designs and patterns on the cake. We green fondant used it to create the tag or label in the sweater.
What are some easy sweater designs I can create on the cake? Simple designs like zig-zags, polka dots, snowflakes, or stripes are relatively easy to create and still give that "ugly sweater" vibe.
How can I add texture to the sweater cake for my holiday party? Use different techniques like piping with textured tips, adding fondant layers, or using edible decorations like sprinkles, candies, or edible glitter to create texture and depth.
What if I'm not good at decorating? Can I still make an ugly sweater cake? Absolutely! The fun of an ugly sweater cake is in its imperfections. Embrace the quirky and mismatched designs - it's meant to be fun and whimsical.
Can I make the homemade ugly Christmas sweater cake in advance? Yes, you can bake the cake in advance and freeze it. Just ensure it's well wrapped to prevent freezer burn. Decorate the cake a day or two before serving for the freshest look.
How do I transport an ugly sweater cake without ruining the design? Use a sturdy cake board and a cake box that provides enough space above the cake to prevent smudging or damaging the decorations.
How do I store leftovers of an ugly sweater cake? Store the leftover cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a few days. Ensure it's covered well to maintain freshness.
I'm so happy with how this cake came out. I will definitely bring it to the Ugly Sweater Party we're going to this Christmas season. I hope you enjoyed this recipe.
Ugly Sweater Cake
For the cake
- 1 box yellow cake mix prepared according to package instructions
For the frosting
For the decoration
- 2 bags holiday foiled wrapped chocolate candies we used BUTTERFINGER Jingle Bells and NESTLÉ CRUNCH Jingles.
- Chocolate chips
- Holiday candies
- Green fondant
- Prepare cake according to package instructions. Let cool completely. If possible, refrigerate covered for a few hours to make it easy to work with when frosting, but you can skip this step if you're in a hurry. Place cake on a large platter or cake board.
Make the frosting:
- Beat softened butter on medium speed with an electric or stand mixer. Beat for 3 minutes until smooth and creamy. Add powdered sugar, cream, and vanilla extract with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes. Add more powdered sugar if frosting is too thin or more cream if mixture is too thick. Reserve about 1 ½ cups of frosting to keep white, then color the rest red. (Note: I used 2 heaping teaspoons of the "no taste" red food coloring paste. It looks like it isn't red enough at first, but gets darker after it sits for awhile.)
- Reserve ⅓ cup of red frosting, then use the rest to frost the cake. Refrigerate for one hour.
- Meanwhile place half of the white frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a #5 tip and the other half of the frosting fitted with a #1M tip. Fill a third pastry bag fitted with a #3 tip with the remaining red frosting.
- Pipe a "V" shape at the top of cake with the #1M tip and then a line down the middle. Create string designs with the #5 tip. Roll out a ½" x 1" rectangle of green fondant for the label. Pipe the word "ugly" in red. Add the foil wrapped holiday candies such as Butterfinger Jingle Bells. Surround the base of the cake with the extra foil wrapped candies. Use chocolate chips for buttons.
- Serve immediately or store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.