recipe: ombre roses made with swiss meringue buttercream frosting

When I set about making a cake for Scarlett’s birthday, I wanted to make an ombre cake. Three layers, light to dark pink. But that’s a lot of cake and I think even I would have a tough time finishing it before it started to go stale. So then I decided the cake would be white and the frosting would be some kind of ombre pink — ombre is in fashion now, you know. And that’s what I did!

P1040567 - Version 2


  • 1 1/2 C sugar
  • 6 large egg whites
  • salt, just a little
  • 1/4 t cream of tartar
  • 1 lb butter at room temperature, cut into tablespoon-sized chunks
  • 1/2 t vanilla extract (or 1 t vanilla if only using vanilla extract)
  • 1 t almond extract (I like almond. You can use whatever extract you want for flavoring)


  1. Combine sugar, egg whites, and a pinch of salt in a large heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over a saucepan filled with around 2 inches of simmering water, and whisk until the whites are warm and the sugar dissolves, 2-3 minutes. The mixture should feel smooth when you rub some between your fingers.
  2. Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the mixture on low speed until foamy, then add the cream of tartar, and beat on medium-high until stiff, glossy peaks form and the mixture is completely cooled, about 10 minutes.
  3. Reduce speed to medium-low and add butter 2 T at a time, beating to incorporate fully after each addition. The mixture may look bad (kind of curdled) but that’s normal and it will become smooth after more beating. Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts.
  4. Switch to the paddle attachment and beat on the lowest speed 3-5 minutes. Voila!

P1040566 - Version 2

For the ombre roses…

  1. I wanted to make my frosting pink, so I made it very light pink. Add food coloring until you reach your desired shade for the lightest layer — the top. Set aside just over 1/3 of the frosting. Add more food coloring until you reach your desired shade for the middle layer, then set aside half of the frosting. Add food coloring until you reach your desired shade for the darkest, bottom layer. Note: you could also do it the opposite way, with the lightest frosting at the bottom and darkest at the top. This makes more sense because you can use the light frosting you need then darken the rest after piping that first layer, and so on. However, I wanted my top layer to be the lightest.
  2. Before making the roses, you need to dirty ice the cake — spread a thin layer of frosting over the whole thing, and then let it harden in the fridge for 20-30 minutes before continuing.
  3. I don’t have a piping bag, so I just used a ziploc bag with a corner cut off, and a closed star tip from a set of tips I picked up at a bazaar in Tashkent. They’re a bit sharp so I might want to invest in real ones… anyway, set up whatever kind of piping bag you have with a closed star tip and the darkest frosting.
  4. Start by piping a blob for the center of the rose, then bring the tip around, moving counterclockwise, starting at 6 o’clock and ending at 11 o’clock after going around once, so you go around one and a half times. You can do a little flourish up and to the left if you’d like. Pipe roses that barely touch, going all the way around the bottom third of the cake.
  5. Go back and fill in open spaces with frosting — you don’t want any of the cake to show through. Repeat with and top rows, switching to the appropriately colored frosting, and frosting the top of the cake with the lightest colored roses.

3 thoughts on “recipe: ombre roses made with swiss meringue buttercream frosting

Add yours

  1. The text just appeared now… Scarlett’s bday! Happy Birthday Scarlett! We just celebrated Agatha’s anniversary a few weeks ago… I made something a little but simpler…and by a little, I mean a lot haha I made Frozen Peanut Butter Yogurt Treats. The dogs love them! You should make them for Scarlett!

  2. Pretty! I like how your roses are smaller than the average ones I’ve seen on these cakes. Unless your cake is exceptionally large lol.

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