The Ultimate Drip Cake How To Guide

Welcome to The Ultimate Drip Cake How To Guide! Drip cakes are one of the cakes I get asked the most questions about. Because of this, I’ve created what I believe to be the most thorough guide on how to make and decorate a drip cake. I’ve covered pretty much everything in this guide. So whether you’re making your first drip cake, or you’ve made a few but you want to try a different technique, the answer to your question should be here! And if it isn’t, please let me know in the comments and I will endeavour to find out. You can use the handy menu below to skip to the section you need, or start at the top for the full guide. I’ve also filmed a tutorial video to go alongside this guide, which you can watch on my YouTube channel.

Menu

What is a drip cake? Essential equipment The foundation of a drip cake
What chocolate to use How to make a chocolate drip How to drip
Coloured Drips Gold Drips Other drips
Tiered & Square Cakes Storage & Transportation Tutorial Video
The Recipes Drip Cake Recipes on TBE Questions?

Crunchie Drip Cake

What is a drip cake?

A drip cake is quite simply, any cake that has drips of chocolate (or caramel) dripping down the sides. There’s no definitive information on who created the drip decoration, or when it first started, but it began to gain popularity in 2015. A quick search on Pinterest or Instagram and you’ll soon see the wide variety of drip cakes that are being created by bakers all over the world. One thing’s for certain – the drip cake craze is not showing signs of dying down any time soon!

Cookies and Cream Oreo Drip Cake

Essential equipment

When you’re making a showstopping cake like a drip cake, there are some pieces of essential equipment that you will need in order to get that professional finish. As well as basic items like cake tins and piping bag, you’ll also find that a decorating turntable and buttercream scraper make a huge difference to the final look of your drip cake. I’ve listed and linked below my preferred and recommended items to get you all kitted up and ready to bake!

8″ cake tins Angled palette knife Mixing bowls
Round cake tin liners Wilton 789 tip Silicone spatulas
Electric mixer Round piping nozzle Cooling rack
Measuring spoons Buttercream scraper/smoother Cake leveller
Piping bags Decorating turntable Cake tester
Cake lifter Large tupperware box Cake boards
Large cardboard cake box Paint brushes Squeezy bottle

NB. The items above are all affiliate links. I will receive a small amount if you make a purchase, this does not increase the price for you at all. Thank you for supporting The Baking Explorer!

You can also buy cake decorating items from:

CakeCraft Shop The Cake Decorating Company Cake Stuff
The Craft Company Cake Craft Company

The foundation of a drip cake

There’s quite a lot to do before you get to the drip part of a drip cake. It all starts with cake, and I like to make my drip cakes with at least three layers of cake. This is because a taller cake adds more drama to the drip effect, and makes it look extra impressive. A nice smooth coating of buttercream is also essential for the drip to have an even surface to fall down. If you’d like the cake or buttercream recipes I’ve used here, head to The Recipes section.

When your cake is ready, you may notice that the top of each sponge is ‘domed’. The first thing you need to do is level the cake off so it has a nice flat top. You can use a cake leveller, or a knife to do this. I prefer to use a nice sharp knife, but please watch your fingers when doing this! Place your hand on top of the sponge and work the knife around the edge of the cake, turning the cake as you cut. When you’ve cut all around the edge, cut through the middle.

Once you’ve got nice flat cake, you can start filling and stacking them onto either a cake board or directly onto a decorating turntable. I don’t bother with a cake board if I’m just serving to family and friends, but I will put the cake on a plate and then put that on the turntable as it makes it easier to move the cake. Add a small blob of buttercream to your plate or cake board to ‘glue’ the cake to it and avoid it slipping. I usually pipe the buttercream between the layers using a round nozzle in a piping bag so that it creates an even layer of buttercream. This looks nice when you cut a slice, and it also helps to keep the cake level.

Using a palette knife, smooth the buttercream out, then do the same for the next layer. When adding the final sponge, flip it over so the bottom becomes the top. Even though you’ve cut the top to make it level, the bottom is even more flat so this ensures that the cake has a nice flat top. Then you can start crumb coating the cake with buttercream.

The crumb coat seals the sponge with a thin layer of buttercream so that crumbs from the cake sponge don’t mix with the final buttercream layer and create a messy or uneven finish. Smooth a thin layer all over the cake using an angled palette knife, don’t worry too much about neatness, just cover up the cake. Chill the cake for 30 minutes. For the second and final layer of buttercream use a piping bag fitted with a Wilton 798 nozzle to cover the cake in a rough layer of thick buttercream. Or you can spread it on with a palette knife.

Using a scraper or icing smoother, smooth the buttercream around the sides of the cake, use the turntable to help you and stop often to wipe excess buttercream off the smoothing tool. For the top of the cake, an angled spatula, or a smoothing tool, can be used to smooth out the buttercream. If you get any holes or dents, fill with extra buttercream and smooth out again until you’re happy. Then chill the cake in the fridge for 30 minutes before adding the drip.

What chocolate to use

The most common type of drip is a dark chocolate drip, so I’d recommend using dark chocolate for your first few forays into the drip cake world. White chocolate is also popular, while milk chocolate trails behind and is rarely used from what I’ve seen. The extra milk in both white and milk chocolate make them harder to work with, but not impossible. If you want to get technical, the best type of chocolate to use has between 50-60% cocoa.

You can use candy melts for a coloured drip, but I would advise against it as they just don’t taste as good as chocolate, plus they set hard which can make cutting the cake difficult. Head to the Coloured Drips section for more information.

How to make a chocolate drip

For a standard dark chocolate drip, you can use a ganache using equal amounts of double cream (a 48% fat cream) and dark chocolate. I use 65g of each for a 8″ round cake, which is enough to do the drips and cover the top of the cake. It’s easy to make in the microwave. Heat for 20 seconds, stir, then heat for 10 seconds and stir. Keep heating for 10 seconds and stopping to stir until it’s melted. Let it sit for 5 minutes, to cool and thicken, before applying to the cake.

There is also a cheat’s chocolate drip, which I use often and it’s featured in a lot of my drip cake recipes. It’s really handy if you can’t get hold of double cream, or if you don’t want to open a whole pot of cream. For this I melt the chocolate (either white or dark) in the microwave using the same timings as above, then I stir in vegetable oil. See The Recipes section for measurements.

For a white chocolate drip, which can be coloured or painted gold, I use 140g white chocolate and 50g double cream, and heat in the microwave using the same timings as the dark chocolate ganache. The white chocolate ganache always takes longer to melt, but be patient as overheating it will ruin it. As white chocolate has a yellowish tinge to it, so there are a few products you can add to it to make it white. Add 1/8 tsp Superwhite powder before starting the melting process, or after its melted you can add Wilton White White. Again, let it sit for 5 minutes, to cool and thicken, before applying to the cake.

If you’re concerned about the consistency of either ganache, you can test the drip out first, either drip it down the side of a bowl and see how far it runs. Or use an upside down chilled pint glass.

How to drip

There a few different ways to add the chocolate drip to your cake. You can use a piping bag, a squeezy bottle, or a spoon. My preferred method is a piping bag, however I do want to move to the squeezy bottle method soon as it’s more environmentally friendly because the bottle can be washed and re-used.

Put the ganache into a piping bag and snip of the end using scissors. You only want to snip off a small amount, around 7mm. Position the piping bag on the top of the cake, close to the edge. Squeeze out some of the ganache so that it falls down the side of the cake. Do 3 or 4 drips, squeezing out varying amounts of ganache but don’t squeeze too much. Stop dripping and let the drips you’ve done trickle down and see how far they go. Use this as a guide to decide how much ganache to squeeze out, then carry on around the whole cake, squeezing varying amounts as you go so the drips are different. Then use a palette knife to smooth the blobs of ganache on top of the cake down. If you want to cover the top of the cake with ganache, pipe a generous drizzle over the top.

Again, use a palette knife to smooth the ganache all over the top of the cake. The quicker you do this, the smoother the finish will be. (I was a bit slow as I was taking photos so mine looks uneven, but you will get a smooth finish if you do it straight away!) Either way, you’ll probably be covering the top with buttercream or other decorations, so don’t worry if yours is uneven too. The drip is now complete! Pop the cake in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up the chocolate ganache drip.

You can now decorate the cake however you like. I like to pipe buttercream rosettes around the top edge of the cake, then I add sprinkles all over. This is where you can get creative and personalise the drip cake! Add your favourite sweets, chocolate bars, birthday candles, macarons, meringue kisses… the possibilities are endless!

Coloured drips

For a coloured drip, all you need to do is make a white chocolate ganache, then add your chosen food colouring. The best food colouring to use is gel colour, brands such as Pro Gel and Americolor work well. You can also use powder colouring, although I have found this is harder to get hold of and more expensive.

Gold drips

One of the most impressive drip cake trends is a gold drip, rose gold drip, or a silver drip. To do this you need to make a white chocolate ganache, and apply it to the cake in the same way as the dark chocolate ganache. Then chill the cake until the drip is set and feels firm to the touch. You then need the following equipment and ingredients:

  • Small clean paint brush (a larger one is also useful to make painting the top of the cake a faster process)
  • Edible paint, or luster dust in your chosen colour
  • Vodka or alcohol based flavour extract (only needed if using luster dust)

If you have edible paint, you can paint this straight onto the white chocolate drip to make it gold. If you’re using luster dust, tip some of it out into a small bowl and add a very small amount of the vodka to create a paint. Paint it onto the white chocolate drip, and the vodka will evaporate as the paint dries. Be aware that painting a gold drip is quite time consuming, especially if you want a very neat finish.

Other drips

The most popular type of drip after chocolate has got to be caramel. To do this you can either use a homemade or a shop bought caramel sauce. I prefer to use Carnation caramel as it’s convenient, purse friendly and delicious. You can easily add salt to make it salted caramel too. I warm the caramel for 20 seconds in the microwave, then apply it to the cake the same way as the chocolate ganaches. Caramel can be more runny, so I recommend testing out the drips first on the side of a bowl or an upside down glass. Then you can work out how much to squeeze out for each drip.

Is there anything else you can drip down the sides of a cake? Well, I’ve seen it done with jam, icing (the classic water and icing sugar mixture), and warmed up Biscoff spread. If you’re willing to experiment then I’m sure there are more options too!

Tiered and square cakes

The principle in exactly the same for a square cake, so you don’t need to do anything differently. For a tiered cake, apply the drip to the bottom cake first and fill in the top of the bottom cake too as this will help to stick the top cake to it. Then add the top tier, then do the drip on the top cake. The amounts of ganache you need will vary depending on the size of the cakes, but I would always recommend doing more than you think you need as it’s better to have too much than too little. Don’t forget to properly stack the cake using dowels and cake boards so it doesn’t collapse.


Storage and transportation

Before you start making a drip cake, you need to clear out some room in your fridge. Based on my recipe, my drip cakes are around 6.5″ tall. Then you have to also take into account the height of your turntable and your plate or cake board. So you may need to move some shelves around! Fridge space is critical for chilling the cake between buttercream layers and also for storing the cake, especially if it’s summertime or you live in a warm place. Don’t worry – the cake won’t dry out. The layers of buttercream seal and protect the sponge, I’ve never had a problem with my drip cakes being dry even after a couple of days in the fridge. If this is something you’re really worried about, you can add a sugar syrup to the sponge before assembling the cake.

I purchased a large tupperware container in order to transport my drip cakes – usually into the office where my colleagues demolish them! However, if you’re making the drip cake for a customer, or another reason where you don’t want to use your own container, you can buy cardboard boxes to transport them instead. Head to the Essential equipment section for links to my recommended products.

Hopefully it goes without saying, but when transporting the cake it needs to stay level. This is so it doesn’t slip which can cause the sides to hit the box or container and get squished – buttercream is very delicate stuff. For example, the back seat of a car is not a good idea as they are angled. I’d recommend the foot well in a car – drive carefully round corners and over speed bumps, and make sure you don’t turn the heat on!

Tutorial Video

I filmed a tutorial while I was making and decorating the chocolate and vanilla cakes featured in this post. So you can see exactly what I did, I hope you find it helpful! Please give it a like and comment on YouTube if you found it useful.

Subscribe to my YouTube channel for more tutorial videos like this!

The Recipes

Here are the recipes for the chocolate drip cake and vanilla drip cake I made for this guide and the tutorial video.

5 from 1 vote
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Chocolate Drip Cake

Chocolate sponge, chocolate buttercream and dark chocolate ganache drip

Course Dessert
Cuisine British
Keyword Cake
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 16
Author thebakingexplorer

Ingredients

For the sponge

  • 500 g Butter or baking spread
  • 500 g Caster sugar
  • 9 Eggs large
  • 425 g Self raising flour
  • 75 g Cocoa powder
  • 1/8 tsp Baking powder
  • 2 tbsp Milk

For the chocolate ganache

  • 65 g Dark chocolate
  • 65 g Double cream

OR for cheat's chocolate drip

  • 75 g Dark chocolate
  • 1 tsp Vegetable oil

For the buttercream

  • 600 g Butter or baking spread
  • 1.05 kg Icing sugar (1050 grams)
  • 150 g Cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp Milk

For decoration

  • Sprinkles, sweets and chocolates of you choice

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 160C Fan/180C/350F/Gas Mark 4, and grease and line three 8" cake tins

  2. Make the sponge by mixing the butter and caster sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy

  3. Add the eggs and milk, and whisk until fully incorporated

  4. Add the self raising flour, cocoa powder and baking powder and whisk in until you can't see any flour anymore

  5. Divide the mixture between the tins, use scales for accuracy

  6. Bake them for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Leave them to fully cool either in the tins or remove from the tin and place on cooling racks

  7. To make the chocolate buttercream mix the butter, cocoa powder and icing sugar together. Once it starts to come together add the milk and mix until smooth. I use my electric hand whisk to do this but you can also do it by hand with a spoon

  8. To make the dark chocolate ganache, put the ingredients into a bowl and microwave for 20 seconds, then stir. Continue microwaving in 10 second blasts, stirring between each blast, until melted and smooth

  9. OR To make the cheat's dark chocolate drip, melt the dark chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds, then stir. Continue microwaving in 10 second blasts, stirring between each blast, until melted and smooth. Stir in the vegetable oil

  10. See the rest of the post for decorating instructions. Store in the fridge and in an airtight container once cut

5 from 1 vote
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Vanilla Drip Cake

Vanilla sponge, vanilla buttercream and a white chocolate drip

Course Dessert
Cuisine British
Keyword Cake
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 12
Author thebakingexplorer

Ingredients

For the sponge

  • 500 g Butter or baking spread
  • 500 g Caster sugar
  • 9 Eggs large
  • 500 g Self raising flour
  • 2 tsp Vanilla extract

For the buttercream

  • 600 g Butter or baking spread
  • 1.2 kg Icing sugar (1200 grams)
  • 3 tsp Vanilla extract

For the white chocolate ganache

  • 140 g White chocolate
  • 55 g Double cream
  • 1/8 tsp Superwhite powder optional

OR for cheat's white chocolate drip

  • 75 g White chocolate
  • 1/2 tsp Vegetable oil

For decoration

  • Food colouring if you want a coloured drip
  • Luster dust and vodka or edible paint If you want a metallic (e.g. gold) drip
  • Sprinkles, sweets and chocolates of you choice

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 160C Fan/180C/350F/Gas Mark 4, and grease and line three 8" cake tins

  2. Make the sponge by mixing the butter and caster sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy

  3. Add the eggs and vanilla extract, and whisk until fully incorporated

  4. Add the self raising flour and whisk in until you can't see any flour anymore

  5. Divide the mixture between the tins, use scales for accuracy

  6. Bake them for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Leave them to fully cool either in the tins or remove from the tin and place on cooling racks

  7. To make the vanilla buttercream mix the butter and icing sugar together. Once it starts to come together add the vanilla extract and mix until smooth. I use my electric hand whisk to do this but you can also do it by hand with a spoon

  8. To make the white chocolate ganache, put the ingredients into a bowl and microwave for 20 seconds, then stir. Continue microwaving in 10 second blasts, stirring between each blast, until melted and smooth

  9. OR To make the cheat's white chocolate drip, melt the white chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds, then stir. Continue microwaving in 10 second blasts, stirring between each blast, until melted and smooth. Stir in the vegetable oil

  10. See the rest of the post for decorating instructions. Store in the fridge and in an airtight container once cut, eat within 5 days

Drip cake recipes on The Baking Explorer…

Here are all the drip cake recipes I have created so far on The Baking Explorer! There are more to come, follow me on Instagram or subscribe to my email list to be the first to see when I release a new drip cake recipe.

Crunchie Drip Cake Cookies and Cream Oreo Drip Cake M&M Drip Cake
Crunchie Drip Cake Cookies & Cream Oreo Drip Cake M&M Drip Cake
Biscoff & Banana Cake Red Velvet Cake Baby Gender Reveal Cake
Biscoff & Banana Cake with Caramel Drip Halloween Red Velvet Cake Baby Gender Reveal Cake
Easter Speckled Egg Drip Cake
Easter Speckled Egg Drip Cake

Questions?

Is there anything I’ve not covered in The Ultimate Drip Cake How To Guide that you’d like to know? Let me know in the comments! I’d also love to know if this guide has helped you make a drip cake – please share your stories in the comments!

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4 comments / Add your comment below

  1. 5 stars
    So I’ve never made a drip cake before, or any big cake at all actually. This recipe is so detailed and my cake came out perfect! Thank you

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