Saturday, November 12, 2011

carnival birthday cake - red velvet cake filled with cream cheese frosting and topped with cream cheese buttercream

To go along with the carnival animal cookies that I made in my previous post, I also made a 12 x 17 inch red velvet carnival cake.  The only other time I made a cake this large was the Superman birthday cake that I made for my son Matthew, and for that cake I had used four 9 x 13 inch cakes (two side-by-side, and two on top of that for the second layer).  But I was hesitant to do that again, since I felt like I could see a line down the middle where the two sets of cakes met.  So this time I bought a 12 x 17 inch cake pan, so that I could make it the right way!

(Notice in the picture above the size of the 9 x 13 inch pan is on the left, compared to the giant 12 x 17 inch pan on the right!)

I thought since I had the right pan this time, that everything would go smoothly.  But since the pan was so large, I found myself extending the baking time over and over again so that the middle of the cake could finish baking.  When the middle was finally done and the cakes came out of the oven, I could already see that the edges of the cake were overdone, and even looked crispy!  So after the cakes had cooled, I sliced off about half an inch of cake from each of the edges.

After sandwiching the two cake layers with a thick layer of cream cheese frosting, I whipped up a cream cheese buttercream to use for the crumb coating and decorating/piping.  I basically made a buttercream frosting, but added a stick of cream cheese to it because I prefer the flavor of cream cheese to buttercream, but I knew that a straight cream cheese frosting would not hold up on a cake this large (another lesson learned from my Superman birthday cake!)  So this was a way to get the same stiffness of a buttercream, with a little bit of cream cheese flavor.

After applying a crumb coating over the whole cake, and a second coating over the top of the cake, I started to decorate my sides.  I was inspired by the red and yellow stripes of Martha Stewart's carnival cake, and thought the look would go perfectly with this cake.  I had brainstormed different ways to make the carnival stripes, but in the end went with the original idea (see below, my brainstorming sketches for the cookies and the cake).

Next, I piped a shell border along the bottom and the top of the cake, and then I was ready to add the final touches to the top of the cake.

To tie in with the animal cookies, I used black icing and a star tip with various colors of icing to pipe the face of a giraffe:

an elephant:

and a lion:

And finally, I added a birthday message with black icing.  I had originally also wanted to include fondant stars on skewers or florist wire, but in the end I left it out because I didn't want to clutter the cake.  Instead, I bought a little star-shaped candle to go along with the cake (not pictured).

Hope you had an awesome first birthday Jianna!


  1. What a lovely cake. As I was reading your post, my little girl (2 yrs old now) call out all the animals one by one as I was scrolling down the page! :D She was so excited to see you cake.

  2. Even your sketch book is too cute!

  3. Love your sketch book :) It is obvious that you are born with the talent to do this :)

  4. So sweet! Love the whole thing - concept to final product!

  5. This is GREAT! I'm with Shirley - your sketch book is a great insight to how you make these beautiful cakes! Very nicely done!

  6. @Amy - aww, your daughter sounds so adorable! thanks for sharing that! :)

    @Hsing - thank you! i still even have the sketch from the very first hello kitty ice cream cake i made for you!

    @Shirley @ Kokken69 - thank you so much! such a lovely comment! :)

    @movita beaucoup - so glad you liked it, thank you!

    @Ann - thank you! i will try to photograph/share my sketches more often!

    @justJENN - thank you!!!