In the bowl of a stand up mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until it is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the sifted powdered sugar, vanilla extract and milk, if using. Mix on low speed to combine the ingredients. Once the sugar is incorporated, crank the mixer to thigh speed and beat the mixture for another 2 minutes, until it has more than doubled in volume, for a fluffy whipped frosting.
Divide the buttercream in half. Set aside one bowl. Divide the contents of the second bowl evenly among three bowls. Mix the green gel color into the first bowl, yellow into the second bowl, and red into the third bowl. Note: sometimes “red” is a difficult color to achieve—it requires a lot of food gel coloring.
Fill a piping bag fitted with an open star tip with the uncolored buttercream. Fill a piping bag fitted with a leaf tip with the green buttercream. Fill a piping bag fitted with a medium-size round tip with the yellow buttercream. Finally, fill a piping bag fitted with a large round tip with the red buttercream.
Place a covered cake board on a cake turntable. Pipe a dab of uncolored buttercream onto the cake board. Place the first vanilla cake layer onto the board. Starting from the outside and working your way in toward the middle, pipe the uncolored buttercream in concentric circles, creating a giant, generous swirl of buttercream. Stop when you get to the center.
My frosting was super soft because it’s summer! So transfer the cake to the fridge to firm up a bit, if needed. Pipe the nest layer of uncolored buttercream just as you did the first layer.
Next, begin piping green buttercream “lettuce” right on top of the uncolored buttercream layer, using the piping bag with the leaf tip. The idea is not to be too uniform with your leaves! Squeeze the piping bag a little harder to get bigger leaves, and overlap and layer them in a way that looks organic.
Squiggle on your “mustard” using the yellow buttercream. I pipe large loops all along the exterior, on top of the lettuce layer but not covering it.
Using the red buttercream for your ketchup, piping this is an ongoing loop on top of the yellow buttercream layer but in between the yellow loops.
Carefully place the final vanilla cake layer, unleveled and dome side up, on top of the “ketchup buttercream. Gently press down to adhere.
Place the sugar pearls on top of the cake for a sesame seed bun effect.