There are some incredible Dr. Seuss cakes out there (check out the links below to get an idea of just how incredible!) And if you happen to be a professional cake decorator, the possibilities truly are endless. But what if you are, like me, a neophyte when it comes to cake decorating—as in never tried to do anything more than bake and frost the most basic cake?
Well, it turns out that you, too, can make a really fun Dr. Seuss cake precisely because he was all about having things be cock-eyed and non-conforming. The great news with this cake is that no one (but you) ever needs to know what aspects were “mistakes” and what are just part of “the look!”
Ready? Here goes:
6-, 8-, and 10-inch round cake pans
6- and 8-inch cardboard cake circles (I traced around the pans and made my own)
6 plastic drinking straws
4 pastry bags with a small star tip and a small round writing tip
Long, serrated knife
Large serving platter
2 each: 6-, 8-, and 10-inch round cakes (If using a cake mix, you’ll need 3 boxes: 1 box makes one 6-inch and one 10-inch cake, or two 8-inch cakes.)
3 colors (your choice, but the brighter the better) of gel food coloring (available from CRIZMAC or at many grocery or craft stores)
8 cups frosting (3 cups of white, and use the food coloring mentioned above to mix up 2 cups of the color desired for the bottom layer and 1 and ½ cups each of the colors for the middle and top layers)
- If needed, trim the top of one cake of each size with the serrated knife to make it level. Stack the same-size cakes to make the three layers: spread a thin layer of white frosting on the trimmed side of one cake, then top with the matching cake (flat sides together).
- For a smooth surface, prepare the cake layers by spreading a thin layer of white frosting around the sides. I found it helpful to microwave the frosting for a few seconds so it was more like a glaze. It also seemed to help to work with just one layer at a time and keep the others refrigerated in between.
- Use the serrated knife to cut each layer of cakes at an angle, as shown. (Save the scraps just in case you happen to have any leftover frosting and want to have a little snack before cutting into your beautiful cake!) Spread a thin coat of frosting on the newly-cut tops of each layer.
- Place the 10-inch layer on a serving platter and place the 8- and 6-inch layers on the cardboard circles. For stability, press 3 straws each down through the centers of the 6-inch and 8-inch layers (a triangle pattern works best) and trim the straws so they’re level with the top. Spread the tops of all three layers with a thicker coat of white frosting.
- Before assembling the cake, cover the sides of each layer with the colored frosting you have chosen for that layer.
- Stack the 8-inch and 6-inch layers on top of the 10-inch layer. Stack them so the narrowest part of the layer on top is directly above the tallest part of the layer below. You want them to look tilted, but be balanced.
- Spoon the remaining white frosting (about 3/4 cup) into a pastry bag fitted with the star tip. Pipe a decorative border around the base of each layer. (Note: I did not follow this direction, and instead used a contrasting colored frosting around each base, except at the bottom. In hindsight, maybe the white would have been better…)
- Remove the star tip from this bag and rinse out. Next, assemble another pastry bag with the star tip and the color of icing used on the sides of the middle layer. Pipe a border around the top edge of the 10-inch layer. Change the tip to the small round writing tip (but keeping the same color of frosting) and pipe decorative lines, circles, curlicues, and dots (plan to use a different combination of patterns for each layer) around the sides of the 6-inch layer.
- Rinse out the star tip and assemble another pastry bag with the color of icing used for the sides of the top layer. Pipe a border around the top edge of the 8-inch layer. Carefully rinse out the small round writing tip. Remove the star tip and put on the writing tip (again, keeping the same color of frosting) and pipe a new pattern of decorative lines, circles, curlicues, and dots around the sides of the 10-inch layer.
- You know the drill by now, right? This is the last one. Rinse out the star tip and assemble another pastry bag with the color of icing used for the sides of the bottom layer. Pipe a border around the top edge of the top layer of your cake. Rinse out the small round writing tip and put it on the pastry bag and pipe a new pattern around the sides of the 8-inch layer.
- That’s it! You did it! How does it look? Pretty fun, huh? Serves 36 (No, that’s not a typo! Better invite some friends over!)
Now—just in case you were getting a little too cocky—take a look at what some professionals have done. And here’s clip from a Dr. Seuss cake contest on the Food Network. Amazing!
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