My little girl just turned 8 years old! She is really growing up and I can’t believe my eyes sometimes. Everyone tells you, “they grow up so fast.” I understand what they mean now!
My daughter is a huge fan of animals, especially wild animals. Last year she had a big cat themed cake and party, and this year it was animals again. We recently went to a safari zoo and she decided that would be her birthday theme. Although the zoo we went to didn’t have carnivores on the safari, she wanted to make sure they were represented on her cake 😀 She designed the entire cake herself, down to the colors, animals, and setting. She drew up a quick sketch and I was so proud of her. I was thrilled to try to recreate her vision for her party. I love letting my kids get creative and design their cakes, and it gives me a chance to challenge myself and try something new. I was a bit intimidated by her design, but was so happy with the way it turned out. She was thrilled with her cake, and it put a big smile on my face. We also made zoo maps and glued them to the gift bags. My kids are already coming up with their ideas for next year, believe it or not 😉 I hope you enjoy the cake and I have included some directions below.
The cake is a one bowl chocolate cake from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. I am a big fan of her cakes and this chocolate cake is just perfect for kids and adults. It is super easy to make and very moist. I doubled the recipe and made a dozen cupcakes as well (for tasting, which is important right?). The icing is also homemade, and it’s made with real butter. This type of buttercream is more difficult and temperamental to work with than the vegetable shortening variety, but I prefer it and am willing to live with a few icing cracks. I have included the icing recipe after the decoration directions.
The decorations are made out of fondant and gum paste and colored using food coloring, food-safe paint dust and markers. Gum paste glue adhesive was used to affix parts together and to the cake (made from water and gum paste).
- Because my daughter wanted 3 different colors on her cake, I used spray on food color after I iced the cake to achieve this. The ground was colored with a combination of gold and yellow, and I purposely cracked the icing a little extra, to mimic dry ground.
- The animals were made out of fondant, and toothpicks were used to attach the heads and legs to the bodies. I used gum paste for the rhino horns (I put a little food-safe wire inside, so it would dry properly). I used food safe color dust to color the animals after they were sculpted and then used food safe markers for details, such as the eyes or eye balls.
- The birthday letters were made out of gum paste and cut out with alphabet cutters. Part of them were painted with pink color dust, and the remaining had black zebra stripes drawn on with a food-safe marker.
- The sign was made out of gum paste, which I affixed to 2 small lollipop sticks and then allowed to dry. I used a food-safe marker to write and draw on the sign.
I will share more cakes that I have decorated and ideas for your next birthday party soon. I would love to hear from you. Let me know if you have any feedback or questions.
- 3 cups unsalted butter (softened)
- 8 cups pure cane confectioners sugar
- 1 1/2 Tbsp real vanilla extract
When frosting a cake, frost the top first and then the sides. Place a large amount of icing on top of the cake (you can remove excess later), to prevent crumbs from mixing with your icing.
After icing the top and sides, smooth out with a cake spatula and then place the cake under a stove fan and light for about 20 minutes to slightly harden the icing.
Smooth the cake by using a smooth paper towel (Viva works well). Place the paper towel on a section at a time, and gently smooth with your hand. Repeat until the cake is where you want it. I also used the paper towel to smooth the edges, by placing the paper towel on the edge, and smoothing gently from the side to the top. At this point, the cake is ready to decorate. I used a disposable cake box to store the cake in until it is ready to put the decorations on and time to put on display.
More of the cakes I have decorated for my little ones 😀
My son’s Kylo Ren cake from this year