Birthday Cake Trends

October 10, 2013    |    By +
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It’s National Cake Decorating Day! In the past, the world of cakes was about as vast as the desert is damp. White and chocolate were staples, and maybe, if you were lucky, strawberry or cherry filling added a nice surprise. The only decisions that had to be made were which box of cake mix to match with which tub of frosting. Now there are endless flavors and decoration ideas to choose from, and a whole slew of dietary modifications that I was hardly aware of a decade ago! Considering the number of birthday parties I’ve attended this year, the words “cake shopping” seems to have a permanent spot on my to-do list. In my quest for the perfect birthday cake, I wanted to know just what was trending these days, so I checked in with a bunch of bakeries around the country to get the scoop. Read below to find out what I learned.

Gluten Free and Vegan

Almost every bakery I spoke to said that requests for gluten free and vegan products have been through the roof in the last year. Most businesses are happy to oblige. Sweet Lady Jane, in Los Angeles, has always had flourless chocolate cake, but they recently added gluten free carrot cake and chocolate chip cookies, as well. Flour Bakery in Boston has noticed a spike in interest in their “hidden” cake, a low-fat vegan chocolate cupcake turned bundt cake called a kugelhopf that doesn’t appear on the menu.


For the next wave in cake trends, we have a little-known site called Pinterest to thank. The formula goes like this. “Inspirations” trend on Pinterest, which then translates to swarms of people heading to bakeries with photos of their desired cakes in tow. Among the most popular is the chevron pattern. In general though, patterns like scalloped borders and designs that match invitations are very popular right now, according to Two Little Red Hens in New York.

Rustic Vintage

If you thought the heritage trend was just for clothes, think again. This throwback to simpler times vibe has even made its way into our desserts. In L.A. and Austin, old-fashioned icing, where you use a spatula to make it look “authentic” a.k.a. messy, has been all the rage. And in LA and New York, burlap and lace have been making cake cameos in the form of ribbon and piping work.


Around six months ago, Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop in Austin made a display cake one day in ombre, and the rest is history. People have been ordering ombre cakes left and right since then. At Night Kitchen Bakery in Philadelphia and Empire Cake in New York, the trend is on its way out, they say, but it’s not yet extinct. I must say, it’s still my personal fav!

If you’re hungry for more ideas, check out our Brilliant Birthday Cakes Pinterest Board. Don’t forget to start shopping for those birthday gifts too!




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Meet the Gurus

Kathryn D.W.
Kathryn Drury Wagner is the senior manager of content at She was formerly the executive editor at Honolulu Magazine, and is the author of The Ultimate Guide to Shopping on Oahu. Her career has included staff positions at Country Living Gardener and Power & Motoryacht. Her latest book is "Hawaii's Strangest, Ickiest, Wildest Book Ever!"

Gwen P.
Gwen is the Editorial Curator at In addition to writing blogs, she creates gift guides, curates the site, and produces content for our social media channels. As a freelance writer, she created blogs on fashion, art, travel, health and lifestyle. A talented jewelry designer, she's also a yogi and a hospital volunteer with her therapy dog, Lilo, a Pomeranian.