Use this cake for a Noah's Ark theme, a Saint Patrick's Day party or a Wizard of Oz party.
The first thing I want to say is that I am a very bad baker.
That said, quite a few of you have requested some simple cake decorating ideas "by mom, for mom." So, I'll give you the ones I have.
The second thing I want to say is that as cool as the store bought cakes might look, you'll NEVER get photos like these from a trip to Safeway!
And the third thing I want to say, before I start to explain this cake, is that the beauty of round cakes is you get TWO of them. Don't stack them! Use them each separately.
This allows you to decorate twice and use the best one for presenting at the party (the second one can be cut up and served behind the scenes... your guests will think you're amazing for making such a small cake stretch so far *grin*.)
It also allows separate (fight free) decorating if you happen to have two helpers!
- Bake a round-version cake (just your basic store bought one in your prefered flavour will do or you can use this scratch chocolate cake recipe that even I make without failures).
- Let cool (leave it in the pan).
- With the cake still in the pan, use a knife (preferably a serrated bread knife) and slice off the rounded top
- the top makes a perfect reward for hungry helpers who are having trouble waiting for the final masterpiece!
- Use a cake holder, pizza pan or a cutting board as your surface (you can cover with tinfoil if desired.
- Flip the cake upside down onto the surface. (the bottom of the cake is a smoother/flatter surface to decorate)
- Mix some icing (1/4 cup soft margarine, 3/4 cups icing sugar, 2 Tbsp milk and 1 tsp vanilla mixed together). It actually takes double this recipe for the whole cake, but I mix it in this size batch so I can take a break in the middle (and let the icing set a smidge before applying another layer).
- Split the recipe in half and add blue and green food coloring. We used paste for the green and drops for the blue (it only takes a toothpick dip or two of the green to get this color.)
- Spoon green over 1/2 and blue over 1/2 the cake. Spread with the back of the spoon or a knife. It's pretty easy, actually. This is a horizon, so it doesn't have to meet in a perfectly straight line (you're allowed the occasional bush *grin*
You have a couple options at this point.
- You can just arrange smarties to make a rainbow shape (the easiest method) or
- you can decorate with colored icing.
- Mix your second batch of icing.
- Spoon a couple tbsp of it into a ziploc bag.
- Add a few drops (or toothpick dips of paste) into the bag and seal.
- With the bag closed, smoosh it around (fun for the kids!) to mix the color with the icing.
- Once it's sufficiently mixed, snip a tiny corner off the bag with scissors.
- Carefully squeeze the icing out to form the first stripe of your rainbow.
- Repeat as many times as you need to to get the colours you want in your rainbow (we did red, orange, yellow and green).
- WIZARD OF OZ: At this point, you can put a yellow brick road on with yellow icing, using the same method.
The smartie method is even easier.
- Simply take a bunch of smarties and separate them into the proper colors (eating the leftovers, of course).
- If you mess up the first option and want to salvage the cake, just lay smarties over the top of the stripes you piped on (that's what we did in the picture).
- Lay them around the cake, one color at a time, to form a rainbow.
- VERY IMPORTANT!!! If you're using candies (smarties), put them on no more than a couple hours before serving. When they sit a long time, the colour gets sucked out of the smarties by the icing and they turn white.
WIZARD OF OZ: At this point, you can put a yellow brick road on with yellow icing or yellow smarties. You can even dot on a few red "poppies" in the grass with red icing.
BIBLE (NOAH's ARK): Take a large marshmallow and put it on a piece of wax paper. Roll it flat with a rolling pin (another fun, squishy thing for kids to help with). Cut out a really simplistic bird shape with a sharp knife. (you can draw a template on a piece of paper first).
Purchase a tiny cookie cutter in the shape of a bird (I use them all the time to cut shapes out of meat, cheese, pj sandwiches, cantelope, honeydew melon, etc when asked to send healthy, but fun snacks to school!) Use the cookie cutter to cut the marshmallow (like above) OR place the cookie cutter on the cake where you want the shape to be. Pour in white sprinkles, coconut or chunky white sugar.
Frost the cake in chocolate and use a paper plate cut in half and tape together to shape of a half moon... Then use animal cookies to make the animals marching all over the cake and around the edge. Its a great snack while the kids are waiting to cut the cake. Thanks to Kimberly who sent this idea in!
ST. PATRICK's DAY: Buy green sprinkles or decorating sugar at the store (or take regular white sugar or white coconut and mix with a toothpick dip of food coloring paste or a couple drops of food color). Take a shamrock tiny cookie cutter and place on the grass. Pour in some of the green decorating material to make shamrocks.
Cut green fruit rollups into shamrock shapes and put these on the grass.