Isn’t this little guy cute? If you’re a regular reader here than you know C’s an October baby – this is the friendly monster cake I made to celebrate his 1st birthday. I know he looks fancy but he was actually very, very straight forward to make. In fact, this was only the third or fourth cake I’ve ever baked and those that came before were nothing fancy, straight-from-the-box Duncan Hines pan cakes.
What I’m trying to say here is this: If you want to make a Halloween party centerpiece that’s sure to impress but you’re not exactly Julia Child in the kitchen – this is the project for you my friend. It will take some time but the sense of accomplishment (and wonder) at the end is totally worth it. (Plus the great thing about baking this type of cake around Halloween is that you don’t even have to make eyes. There’s always tons of pre-made candy eyeballs on the market this time of year.) This is also a great way to learn some cake-baking basics.
First things first, you’ll need a few supplies. The good news is nothing’s too expensive and all of these items are great decorative baking staples.
- Confetti Cakes For Kids: Delightful Cookies, Cakes, and Cupcakes from New York City’s Famed Bakery You don’t absolutely need this book in order to make your friendly monster cake but it is an awesome resource. I made my cake by paring down the monster cake featured on the cover. (Isn’t it amazing?)
- Wilton Decorative Preferred 10 by 3-Inch Round Pan – I only used one pan but you might want two to cut down on baking time.
- Pyrex Prepware 2-1/2-Quart Rimmed Mixing Bowl, Clear
- Wilton Set of 8 Icing Colors
- Wilton Disposable 16-Inch Decorating Bags, 12 Pack
- Wilton Multi-Opening #233 Decorating Tip
- Wilton Ready To Use Gum Paste
Unfortunately, because I baked this cake in my pre-blogging days, there aren’t any fancy photos for this one. Take my hand, though, and I’ll walk you through it step by step. Ready? Here we go…
- Start by mixing up A LOT of cake mix. If you want to go 100% homemade, there are tons of great cake recipes on the web. I simply bought about 6 boxes of cake mix at the grocery store and started mixing according to the directions. (Tip: since this was my first major foray into baking, I did this part a few days before the party to give myself plenty of time.)
- Once you’ve got a few boxes worth of cake batter made, start filling up your WELL GREASED pan(s). Basically you want them about half full (to allow space for rising). As for baking time, it totally depends on your oven, your cake mix, your altitude, etc. etc… Be conservative and start checking for done-ness early by sticking a toothpick in the batter. If it comes out clean the cake is done, if not keep checking every 15-20 minutes thereafter. It can take an hour or so per cake so baking more than one at a time would be most efficient.
- If you’re going to make a 6 layer cake like I did, then you’ll want 2 1/2 cakes made with the round pan. Once they’re done baking give them plenty of time to cool. Then flip the pan over, remove the cake, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze. Freezing not only allows you to make the cake well ahead of time, it also prevents crumbling when it comes time to frost.
- You’ll also need to make the rounded layer for the top of the head. To do this, simply fill your glass mixing bowl about 2/3 full of batter and bake. Let it cool, wrap, and freeze along with the other layers.
- Along with the cake, you can also make the decor (party hat, horns, eye lashes, and mouth) ahead of time. All of this is made with convenient Ready To Use Gum Paste. Once you do a bit of kneading, this stuff basically works like modeling clay. To dye, use a toothpick and add icing colors a little at a time until your desired hue is obtained. The mouth and horns are pretty self-explanatory, just be sure to put some tooth picks in them before they dry so you can stick them in the cake later.
- For the eyelashes, start with circles (I traced the cap of the icing colors) and make small cuts all the way around. Then take those gummy eyeballs you found at Target, cut them in half, and attach them to the eyelashes with a toothpick. You want it to be “eyeball, eyelash, toothpick sticking out” to stick it in the cake later.
- The hat is the most complicated part, here’s a hint – it’s hollow. Start with a flatly rolled piece of gum paste, add your circles, and then roll it into a cone. The puff ball on the tip is a pyramid shape cut into several pieces at the base. Once again, put toothpicks into the bottom before it dries. For more detailed help, see Confetti Cakes For Kids.
- Once all the pieces are finished, set them aside to harden overnight.
- The day before your party (or that morning if you’re really good under pressure) remove the cake layers from the freezer and cut them in half horizontally using a large bread knife.
- Now it’s time to make your frosting. I used a recipe similar to this one.
- Start stacking layers with frosting in between. (The easiest way to do this is with your icing bag and an extra large round tip but you can also use a knife or angled spatula.) Let me say that you can make this cake as short or tall as you like but if you’re going to go for all 6 grandiose layers then I highly suggest adding wooden dowels for support. For security, it helps to put a little frosting under the bottom layer and, of course, the layer you made with the mixing bowl will go on top. Lastly, add a crumb coat to your cake – check out this “how to ice a cake well” tutorial for detailed instructions on all of this.
- Now’s the fun (and tedious) part. Fill your frosting bag, whip out your 233 icing tip and start making fur – lots and lots of fur. This is the part that looks hard but is really simple. Just squeeze, pull a little away from the cake, and let the piece of fur droop down. Start at the bottom and work up the cake in rows.
- Ok, you’re almost done. Get the hardened hat, horns, eyes, and mouth and use the toothpicks to secure them to the cake. That was all it took for my cake but if you have trouble getting them to stay make some royal icing (do a google search for a basic recipe).
That’s it, you’re done! Have some people over and let them admire your culinary prowess. (And if you’re transporting this guy anywhere, save yourself lots of grief by laying shelf liner under him to prevent sliding in the car.)
So what do you think? Anyone up for trying it? If so, be sure to take lots of pics. Can you believe the one above is the only one I have?