• ‘Where there is cake there is hope; and there is always cake’, wrote Dean Koontz. Regardless of the context in which Dean has written this, a good slice of cake offers a delectable reprieve on any day. For the mother-daughter duo, Beverley and Kelly Jayne Finlayson – the creatives behind Joburg’s Kelly Jayne’s Cake Boutique – there is always a slice of hope to enjoy at any given time. Here, they show us how to make buttercream succulents.


    “As a child, I loved baking biscuits and desserts – testing new recipes as I go. It was only after I had completed my degree in consumer sciences that I started experimenting with cakes. This was around the time that Cake Boss launched on television and so I realised my passion for cake decorating,” Kelly Jayne recalls.

    The launch of Kelly Jayne’s Cake Boutique was a leap of faith. For years, the self-taught mom-and-daughter duo had dreamt of owning a business together; so when a location became available eight years ago, they jumped at the opportunity. Since then, their sweet dream has gone from strength to strength.

    Although they specialise in wedding cakes, their offering boasts a range of speciality cakes, corporate products, dessert tables, cookies, cake-pops, fudge and more. They also enjoy experimenting with flavours, adding unique creations like vanilla caramel crème brûlée and marble amaretto Nutella to their ever-growing list of flavour combinations. When it comes to cake trends, their naked and drip cakes are current bestsellers. “Clients are turning towards more rustic and delicious looking cakes instead of cakes covered with fondant. Even though these are more minimalistic cakes, we do add a touch of glamour with edible metallic paint and fresh flowers,” Kelly Jayne explains.

    They take pride in the fact that all of their cakes are made from scratch. “We don’t use premixes whatsoever,” Kelly Jayne affirms. What’s more, every cake is hand-made according to clients’ requests – in 2014, they had a client who asked for a life-sized wedding cake that resembled the bride’s dress. “Everything was edible and provided over 500 portions,” Kelly Jayne laughs.

    Sharing their love for cake-decorating, Beverley and Kelly Jayne host a range of courses on a regular basis, covering everything from beginner to advanced. “We host numerous morning and afternoon courses where we teach techniques on cookies, cupcakes and cake-pops. We also teach piping and sculpting techniques. Our longer courses are usually presented over four weekends. We start with the basic cake decorating techniques and work our way up to more advanced skills like making sugar flowers. Our most popular long course at the moment is the beginner wedding cake fundamentals course, and our most popular short course is the decadent drip cake course,” Kelly Jayne explains.

    As new trends in the industry develop, Beverley and Kelly Jayne will also create a course to teach that. “Wedding trends have started to incorporate more rustic decor and greenery, including succulents and cacti. This trend has now slowly made its way to wedding cakes. We’ve also seen a shift from fondant icing to buttercream when it comes to covering cakes,” Kelly Jayne adds.


    How to make buttercream succulents


    • Piping Bags – medium size
    • Nozzles
    • Large Open Star
    • Leaf
    • Small Writing
    • Large Writing
    • Small Closed Star
    • Medium Closed Star
    • Large Petal
    • “C” Nozzle
    • Couplers
    • Flower Nail
    • Cardboard Square (about 5cm x 5cm)
    • Parchment Paper Squares (about 5cm x 5cm)
    • Palette Knife
    • Buttercream
    • Bowls and Spoons
    • Food Colouring
    • Cake Crumbs
    • Edible Stones


    • Buttercream must be of a firm consistency to keep the shape of the flowers.
    • To get a two-tone colour effect, place one colour of buttercream on each side of the piping bag. Alternately, dual piping bags are available, which cater for two colours of buttercream, each in a separate ‘area’.
    • All tools and ingredients can be purchased at a cake decorating retail store.

    We used this gin cake recipe as the base for this buttercream succulent cake.


    Serves: 12 – 14
    Total Time: 1 ½ hrs (including freezing time)



    Crumble leftover cake cut offs to create cake crumbs. This you will use to decorate the cake as sand.


    Use the above buttercream recipe to make firm buttercream and separate into different bowls. Using a gel or powder food colouring, colour your buttercream into desired colours.


    Prepare your piping bags using the couplers and nozzles. Fill piping bags with buttercream. Fill piping bags to a maximum of 2/3 full – too full a piping bag is difficult to work with.


    Using Prestick, stick the piece of cardboard onto your Flower Nail. Attach parchment paper to cardboard piece using a small amount of buttercream (this will keep the parchment paper in place while piping).


    Pipe the various succulents below onto the parchment paper squares. Place the piped flower onto a tray and freeze until firm, minimum of 30 minutes.


    Once buttercream succulents are frozen, use a pallet knife and gently lift off parchment paper and place onto your cake as desired, using a small amount of buttercream on the cake to secure the flowers.


    Fill up any gaps on the cake using the large writing nozzle and closed star nozzles to pipe directly onto the cake. Place sugar rocks and cake crumbs.

    Desert Rose

    Pipe a mound about 1cm high. Using the petal nozzle, hold the piping bag with the curved end of the nozzle facing downwards. Pipe each petal around the mound, creating more layers as you go around the mound.

    Succulent Flower using ‘Leaf’ Nozzle

    Pipe a mound about 0.5cm high. Using the leaf nozzle held at a 45-degree angle, pipe from the centre outwards to create a circle. Then do a second and third layer of leaves on top of one another.

    Blooming Cactus

    Use the large open star nozzle, hold the piping bag at a 90-degree angle and pipe a mound of icing at 3cm high. Using the small writing nozzle, pipe white dots around cactus, then using the small closed nozzle pipe a star on top in a circular motion.

    Spiky Cactus

    Pipe a mound, about 1cm high. Using the small and large star nozzle, pipe buttercream of different heights around the mound in different angles.

    Open Succulent

    Using the C-shaped nozzle, create a round base of buttercream onto which to pipe the petals. Pipe each petal creating a circle on the outer edges of the flower nail. Then create more layers on the inner circle and keep going inwards until the flower is complete.

    Imka Webb

    Imka Webb is a freelance digital marketing expert and the digital editor of Food & Home Entertaining magazine.  www.imkawebb.com