Introduction: Fake Cupcakes!

Picture of Fake Cupcakes!

No, you can't eat them. No, they do not contain anything edible. Why then?, you ask...let me explain
I had a dream that cupcakes were hanging from my ceiling (I know, I have very strange dreams) and decided I wanted to make it come true. The problem was...real cupcakes wouldn't last long and would be very gross and heavy. So I decided to make lightweight, fake ones.
Looking on the Internet for instructions was a pain in the butt because everyone had their "secret recipe" they weren't willing to share.
After a long and diligent search, I finally gleaned enough info to start...
so I am going to share all the instructions FOR FREE and to anyone who wants to see them!
You may republish this, you may sell fake cupcakes to your hearts desire, but I do not suggest eating them...
And what else can they be used for? They make great card holders! Just put a card with something along the lines of "Happy Birthday to one SWEET girl" or something cheesy like that. They make wonderful ornaments too, since they are incredibly lightweight. They can hold photos or business cards too...if you own a bakery or know someone who does, they can also be used in window displays. These do NOT contain any food ingredients, so they wont attract pests or animals, mold, rot, or deteriorate. They will last virtually forever.
Now isn't it refreshing to see artistic directions with no strings attached? I'd love too see your pics and hear your ideas too!

Step 1: Supplies

Picture of Supplies

You will need:

a small can of expansion foam (ask for it at your hardware store)
cupcake papers
rubber gloves (you WILL want these!)
old clothes (I doubt they will look the same at the end if you're anything like me...)
muffin tin
mini muffin tin and papers (optional)
plastic bags
acrylic paint
sculpey or other polymer clay (optional)
fine glitter (optional)
a container of LIGHTWEIGHT spackle (a little goes a long ways..)
an electric mixer
a spoon
a bowl
pastry bag with star tip (big star tip!)
water-based varnish (optional)
wire (at least 22 gauge...20 would be about perfect)

Now that you've gone to the hardware're ready to start!

Step 2: Making the "cake"

Picture of Making the "cake"

First, put your muffin tin inside a plastic bag (protection) and place it on the newspaper. Make sure all of your loose clothes and/or hair are tied up and you are wearing old clothes. Put on your lovely plastic gloves (you WILL want these! expansion foam is incredibly what would happen if you mixed marshmallow cream with gorilla glue and stuck it in a spray bottle! and water cures it so it doesn't wash off too well....)
Next, push a cupcake paper into each of the wells of the muffin tin. You may want to weigh these down with metal washers...I didn't but it might have been a good idea.
Now you're ready to start spraying!
Open your can of expansion foam....and be warned: one can goes a LONG ways so have plenty of cupcake papers ready! It is also one-time use so be sure you have enough time.
Now, spray the foam into one cup at a time, filling it about halfway full. It will rise just like it does in the oven. The only way to do this right is trial and make plans for a few funky-looking cupcakes. Be really careful if you are doing miniature cupcakes...they overflow fast!
Let each cupcake sit in its well for a few minutes, then you can take them out carefully and set them on your newspaper to finish curing while you make more cupcakes in your tin. When you are done, let the cupcakes cure and throw away your gloves (which will probably be really sticky and gooey by now)

Step 3: Painting the Cake

Picture of Painting the Cake

When your "cakes" are completely dry, you can now paint them to look more like actual cakes. First, break off any huge globs of expansion foam that protrude from the nice dome you should have. Then,
using acrylic paints, put a base layer of the color you want on all visible parts of the dry expansion foam. It is OK if you don't paint the very top; it will be covered with frosting anyways, so pay special attention to the area around the edge. I used a light tan for white cake and a dark brown for chocolate (duh!) but you can make many other flavors such as pumpkin and spice by the use of your paint colors. After your base coat is dry, use a dry-brush technique to put spots of a darker or lighter color over it to make it look more like cake (see picture) You may also be able to use a sponge for this step. Use a small brush to paint the expansion foam's edges inside the paper.

Step 4: Toppings!

Picture of Toppings!

Now prepare your toppings! Decide on what you would like on top of your cupcakes and figure out a non-food substitution for them. I made most of mine out of polymer clay which I then baked at 275 degrees F for 15-20 min. I added some acrylic paint to some and used water-based varnish on the ones that were supposed to be shiny. *do not use oil-based products on polymer clay!* they never dry and remain sticky. For the "sugar" I used fine craft glitter. Coconut could easily be made from painted wood curls....just use your creativity to come up with exciting toppings! If you have a great idea, please post it on the comments so that the rest of the art community can use it too!
Once you are done making your yummy toppings, it's time to make the card-holder or ornament-hanger.
Using your wire, make a spiral about the size of a quarter, leaving a tail about 1 1/2" long (see picture) for a card holder
For an ornament hanger, form a "u" shape with ends about 1" long.
That's all there is too it!
To see some ideas for toppings, just look at the picture. If you have any questions, post them!

Step 5: Now for the Frosting

Picture of Now for the Frosting

Protect your area: put newspapers down! (this step is also messy) You will probably also want to wear old clothes, although gloves aren't neccesary in this step. Get all your materials set out before you begin because you will want to move quickly: bowl, spoon, spackle (and maybe a screwdriver to get it open with!), pastry bag (here I am using a nifty plastic pastry thingy, which broke halfway through and I moved back to the bag), acrylic paints, and pastry tip, along with your cakes and toppings and wire things. To make the frosting, put a dollop of lightweight spackle in your bowl and add a bit of acrylic paint to tint it (unless you want plain white frosting...) To make a delicious buttercream, add just a bit of yellow. Then, mix it up with your eggbeater until everything is well combined and it looks like frosting. then, spoon some into your pastry bag with tip attached and start squeezing it out on your will probably want to experiment a little first. This mixture behaves a lot like frosting except it is frothier so it is fairly easy to work with. After putting frosting on, add your topping of choice and stick your metal hanger or card holder in the top (don't worry-the spackle is pretty hard when it dries!)
I apologize for not taking very many pictures at this step...I had to move fast and by the time I was done I was covered in fake frosting!

Step 6: Finishing Touches

Picture of Finishing Touches

One last thing you can add is a drizzle of the sauce of your choice. To make a sauce, mix acrylic paint with water-based varnish (clear) and drizzle on your cupcakes. I made the mistake of also adding water and the spackle frosting soaked it right up so it doesn't look great...but maybe yours will turn out better..
Let everything dry until hard, and you are done!!!
Your creation is now ready to be hung, given away, displayed, or hung from a ceiling. :)
If you have any insightful or inspiring comments, please post them!!
I hope you all enjoyed this and are ready to make some "frosted fakes" of your own.

Oh, and I suppose I should include a disclaimer: any injury or poisoning caused by the creation or consumption of these fake cupcakes is the fault of the idiot stupid enough to eat one!

I have also included pictures of my mini cupcakes, if you would like to see those as well.


milleyboo07 made it! (author)2009-05-02

i made cupcakes! yay. hope you guys enjoy. the sprinkles i just used beads from Joannes crafts. let me know what you think! :)

Love the pearls and sprinkles! Beads are excellent!!! Awesome pic!!!

princeza1 (author)milleyboo072010-10-22

these look amazing! where did you get the cupcake papers big enough to fit the cupcake??

shortone (author)princeza12010-10-25

so how big did they turn out? They look great! :)

MzPanda (author)milleyboo072010-10-07

looks so yumi! the beads look real. how did u make the frosting?

goatgirly (author)milleyboo072009-07-01

those look awesom from a distance. In the last shot you can tell they are beads but, stil FAABULOUS!

TBJKC (author)2014-10-22

I am going to make more when I get another can of spray foam and more Spackle. I made a mistake on not making the whole can. does anyone know how many cupcakes up can get out of a can of spray foam? will need a big tub of Spackle. only got 9 out of a small tub of Spackle. everyone loved them.


Martha Lofton

Bakerbythedozen (author)TBJKC2017-06-08

Nice and glossy!!!

wolfgirl96 (author)TBJKC2015-05-22

one can of foam made 62 cupcakes for me

rene.thurston (author)2014-11-19

Okay, this is a really old post, but I'm hoping you're still answering questions!! I'm actually wondering if after all this time you might have found an option for frosting that doesn't dry as hard - in fact, dries kind of spongy and squishy like the expansion foam? I want to be able to display cupcake picks in these when they're done, and the picks need to be able to push through the "frosting." Any ideas? Thanks thanks!

KellieW15 (author)rene.thurston2016-11-29

You can spray toothpicks or floral wire (whatever is roughly the same diameter as your pick stems) with cooking spray and stick them in before the "frosting" gets hard. When it's almost completely set-up, gently wiggle your toothpicks out - the tiny holes will remain. You'll have permanent spots to swap out your picks whenever you'd like.

You could try silicone

wolfgirl96 (author)rene.thurston2015-05-22

try shaping the 'frosting' out of model magic in a little swirl and glue it on?

I've seen some people using white silicone as frosting, I don't see why it wouldn't work, that stuff sticks to anything! You could use it straight out of the tube or you could put some into a small bag and colour it, I would think. Just an idea. :)

jen.hadley.35 (author)2014-11-26

I have been experimenting with these; and really don't feel there's enough info online about them. I've had a bunch of problems, but am determined to perfect it because I think they're really cute and something I could sell.
My first attempt was a total flop; I didn't spray the foam carefully and ended up with a messy cupcake top and the cups were way too full. My next attempt, my boyfriend helped me and they came out like perfect dome shapes cupcakes. A few days later though the bottoms were all scrunched in; and looked pretty bad. So for my last attempt, I added one larger sized washer to the bottoms of each cup, held in with about 3 tbsp of plaster of Paris mix. I figure this would not only help provide a weighted flat bottom so they don't topple over, but would also help prevent the foam from sucking in the bottoms when it finally dries. I let the plaster harden for a day, then carefully sprayed the foam, making sure I didn't over fill them.
They looked great for about a day, and I've just now gone back to them and instead of the bottoms sucking in, the sides have. The plaster and washer method did it's job, but the foam just chose to pull in the sides instead when it dried.
So, I'm about $50 into my experimenting with these things and figure I'm a long way away from producing a fake cupcake that will last for years, and one that looks like the ones I see in photos online.
I might try peeling these ones out of their paper cups and gluing them into new cups...who knows.
I like the look that the spray foam gives; it's very realistic. But it would be so much easier to just get some cheap styrofoam balls and go from there.
It's really hard finding information on these online, other people must have come across these problems before?
My house temperature isn't wonky; so it's nothing like that.
Anyway, to anyone wanting to make these GOOD LUCK, be prepared to have a bunch of batches fail miserably, it's really not as simple as some of these tutorials suggest.
If I get anywhere with mine I will post my method here :)
Cheers! -Jen

Maybe you could try something like espak soft by prochima or alumilite flex foam instead of spray foam it might be easier but I would recommend that you put them in silicone cups then when they dry put them in paper cups but it's totally optional

wolfgirl96 (author)2015-05-22

These are so cute and im in the process of making them now! Plus I was able to use the frosting idea (which is fab) to decorate some shoes to look like cake! Thanks a ton!

becky.tippettmcclelland (author)2015-03-05

I need to make a fake birthday cake for a musical. This will be perfect! Thanks!!

tom.thelen.71 (author)2015-01-09

My daughter bought one of these at Bronners, now we will make our own. They are soo cool

TBJKC (author)2014-10-03

how long does these cupcake ornaments last? years or one or more years?

Minecrafter18 (author)2014-06-20


Minecrafter18 (author)2014-06-20


Minecrafter18 (author)2014-06-20


Minecrafter18 (author)2014-06-20


Minecrafter18 (author)2014-06-20


HedgieMamaJuniper (author)2014-02-21


HedgieMamaJuniper (author)2014-01-30

Love It!

Bellie14 (author)2013-09-28

Great idea thank you for sharing this with the world!

KaydeeKrunk (author)2013-09-25

I think these would make really cute wedding favors, like have them near the plates at the reception so everyone gets on, and have a little note that says "May these cupcakes last as long as our union." I feel these could also be easily scented with some essential oils or something, but then they would be that much more tempting!

Wynd (author)2011-06-02

I love these! I will be trying to make them super small to make into charms for earrings, necklaces, etc =D Thank you for sharing!

shortone (author)Wynd2011-11-27

You might try polymer clay for that, you can get a lot more detail on a small scale. :)

malibini (author)shortone2012-11-17

How would you do that? can you make a tutorial for that, because polymer clay dosnt rise....

KaydeeKrunk (author)malibini2013-09-25

They're really simple, especially with a peanut butter cup mold for the bottoms.

bhumphrey1 (author)2013-08-10

Read many blogs on how this "stuff" doesn't work to make cake or cupcake dummies. Shenanigans! Works like a charm! Dries fast and very lightweight! Thanks for posting!

SlengTeoh (author)2013-02-18

hello.. are you selling these faux cupcakes??

dhbaldwin (author)2013-01-31

I am teaching about stage props in a creative dramatics class and wondered about the approximate cost per cupcake.

Renee! (author)2012-12-14

Those are sooo cute! What a cool idea.

poofrabbit (author)2012-11-27

I've wanted to do this too!!! I'm so excited you posted all the instruction, thanks so much!

malibini (author)2012-11-17

OH MY GOSH THIS IS SO COOL! Mad Hatter made a compact mirror with fake cupcakes but then took it down. Now I pretty much know how with this tutorial! Thanks! Do you have any tips for putting it on something, like a compact mirror??? :P

kellythrills made it! (author)2012-10-26

Awesome awesome, wicked steps to follow!! To make a giant cupcake I just used the expansion foam in an angel food cake tin. Then fan folded the paper to attach to the tin afterward.

lakenbrooks (author)2011-12-21

These are great instructions, and my cupcakes turned out beautifully! I thought I would tell you the story of my trip to the hardware store in order to get supplies for the cupcakes:
myself-"Sir, would you tell me where the expansion foam and drywall spackle are?"
employee-(looking a little impressed) "they are on this, what kind of expansion foam do you need?"
myself-"Um, well, I'm not quite sure.."
employee-"Well, what are you doing to be doing with it?"
myself'-"Oh, I'm making fake cupcakes!"
employee-(impressed look fades and is replaced by a look of slight horror)

Beatlegirl (author)lakenbrooks2012-07-18

I had almost the same look but I didn't tell them fake cupcakes...

shortone (author)lakenbrooks2012-03-27

This happens just about every time I go to the hardware store haha. You'd think they would get used to the strange requests, being so close to an art college...

HMice (author)shortone2012-06-07

I know! Even in an art shop I got strange looks:

Me: (hands the saleswoman coloured felt) These please.
Woman: Good choice. What are you making?
Me: Donuts :D
Woman: Oh. (frowns)

gtoal (author)2012-06-16

You can make a really convincing icing by mixing Type I silicone caulk with corn starch (search Instructables for the "Oogoo" post) died with acrylic paint. You can make it shiny by rubbing a little soft soap on your hands then polishing the mixture between your palms once it gets past the gooey stage.

Looks like icing but feels like rubber.

Beatlegirl (author)gtoal2012-07-18

I made cupcakes like this several years ago for a visual display in a retail environment. I used royal icing for the icing and I can say that 4 yrs later the icing is still going strong. It does get very hard and will crack and break off if mishandled but a retail setting is a pretty good place to try somethings abillity to withstand abuse. People are not considerate of things that don't belong to them. Oh also, I did spray a light coat of shellac on them to make them shiny.

cms36451 (author)2010-06-07

I made mine and in about 2 days they had sunk in. I used the exact things you used and did it step by step. I can't figure out why this happened.

shortone (author)cms364512010-06-08

Huh, that's it really humid where you live? Or maybe you didn't let the expansion foam dry completely before "frosting" it with the spackle and the spackle weighed it down and made it sink? Could you elaborate on "sunk in"? How did it sink in?

yumietreat (author)shortone2011-01-31

Some of mine also sunk in. It is because more air got into if then the foam. You have to shake the can a few times through out the process to make sure your not just shooting air into it.. The big pink one I did sunk a bit from the time the picture was taken but it still looks great. Hope this helps

amalave319 (author)yumietreat2012-06-26

what did you use for paper cup with large cupcake?

About This Instructable




Bio: Currently in my second year at Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary, planning to become a glass major. I love to learn, make ... More »
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