Three-Tier, Vertically-Layered {Owl Birthday Cake}

 

Warning: This post is not in chocolate & carrots style of baking. Full sugar. Full butter. Full calorie-goodness.

 

First off, my sincerest apologies for the lack of activity on chocolate & carrots last week. While my mom was leading medical missionaries to Honduras, I played substitute Mom.

I absolutely loved being able to spend quality time with two of my sisters (one is studying abroad in Spain) and my amazing dad. It’s amazing how time flies when you have a million and one errands to run between dropping-off/picking-up children to/from school and planning/making dinner….oh, and I forgot to mention: Baking two birthday cakes!!!

Margaret’s 18th birthday was on Saturday.

She wanted a vanilla birthday cake with vanilla frosting.

So, I took her requests and made it all fancy-smancy! <—how do you like that word? ;-)

The entire cake was modeled after a cake I saw that Darla from Bakingdom had made a couple of weeks ago. It was just too cute not to replicate.

Assembly:

  1. Bake 2 yellow 9 inch round cake layers and 2 turquoise 9 inch round cake layers. I used Darla’s yellow cake recipe.
    Yellow Cake Layers
    Ingredients 

    • 4 eggs, room temperature
    • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (or preferred milk), room temperature
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1 3/4 cup unbleached cake flour
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 16 pieces

    How-To

    1. Preheat oven to 350°.
    2. Spray two 8 or 9 inch round pans with baking spray with flour and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
    3. In a large bowl (preferably one with a spout), whisk the eggs, milk and vanilla extract.
    4. In your stand mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
    5. With the mixer on low, add in a piece of butter in at a time until all have been added and the mixture looks like wet clumpy sand.
    6. Add about one cup of the egg mixture, mix on low until blended and then on medium-high until light and fluffy.
    7. Add in the remaining egg mixture, mix on low until blended and then on medium-high until batter looks almost like curdled milk.
    8. Divide the batter evenly into your two pans.
    9. Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
    10. Set on a cooling rack in the pans for about 2 minutes.
    11. Then, being very careful, take one of the cake layers out of its pan and onto a plate that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
    12. With a long serrated knife, cut off a thin layer of the cake.
    13. Then, very carefully take the other cake layer out of its pan and put it back on the cooling rack.
    14. Repeat step L and place this layer on the layer that has been resting on the plate with the cut sides facing each other.

    Turquoise Cake Layers
    Ingredients

    • Same as the yellow cake with the addition of some turquoise dye.

    How-To

    1. Repeat the Yellow Cake Layers’ steps A-N, with the addition of adding in the dye to the egg mixture to get the color desired.
    2. Then, when you have both cakes (with the cut sides facing each other) on their greased plates, but them in the freezer for a good 3-5 hours until they are nice and frozen. This will make them easier to cut into circles.
    3. While the cakes are freezing you cake make the paper or cardboard stencil that you will use to cut out your circles.
    4. The largest circle was 7 1/2″ in diameter, then 6 1/2″ and 4 1/2″. This is because the 9″ cake pan bakes an 8 1/2″ cake.
    5. Once the layers are frozen, remove them from the freezer, and using your stencil, trace the stencil with a long serrated knife. Cut the stencil down to the 6 1/2″ circle, cut around that, cut down to the 4 1/2″ circle and cut around that. Then, cut the outer circles on one side so that you can open them up. For a reference, see Darla’s instructions.
    6. Place the alternating colors together to form the bottom two cake layers.
    7. Secure the layers with bunched up saran wrap and a twist tie.
  2. Make a simple syrup.
    Simple Syrup
    Ingredients 

    • 1/2 sugar
    • 1/4 cup water

    How-To

    1. Heat in a pot until the sugar has dissolved.
    2. Pour over the layers of the cake to ensure that the alternating colors will stay glued together.
    3. Place the alternating colored layers into the freezer.
    4. Freeze for another good 2 hours until you are ready to ice them.
  3. Bake 1 yellow or turquoise 6 inch round layer. I used a half recipe from about.com.
    6 Inch Yellow Cake (top tier)
    Ingredients 

    • 1 cup unbleached cake flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 2 eggs, room temperature
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 3/8 cup unsweetened almond milk (or preferred milk)

    How-To

    1. Preheat oven to 350°.
    2. Spray a 6″ (that is 2″ deep) round pan with baking spray with flour.
    3. In a bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt.
    4. In your stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
    5. Beat in one egg at a time.
    6. Add in the vanilla extract.
    7. Slowly add the flour mixture and the milk, alternatively.
    8. Pour into the pan.
    9. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  4. Whip up the turquoise buttercream frosting. I used Martha Stewart‘s recipe.
    Turquoise Buttercream Frosting
    Ingredients
     

    • 1 1/3 cups sugar
    • 7 egg whites
    • pinch of salt
    • 1 1/4 pounds of unsalted butter (5 sticks), room temperature
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • turquoise dye (mine took a couple of knife dips to get the correct color)

    How-To

    1. In your stand mixer’s bowl, over a pot with a small of amount of simmering water, whisk the sugar and egg whites together until a thermometer reads 160°.
    2. Remove from heat to your mixer, and beat on medium-high for about 10 minutes or until stiff peaks.
    3. Switch to the paddle attachment and beat in the butter, one tablespoon at a time.
    4. Add in the vanilla extract and mix until smooth.
  5. Frost the cake layers.
  6. Place the layers into the refrigerator.
  7. Once the buttercream has hardened a little, take each layer out and smooth down the sides with your knife that has been warmed in a cup of hot water.
  8. Make the fondant owl cake topper and the pearls.
  9. Using Wilton‘s recipe, make the buttercream for the roses.
    Buttercream for Flowers
    Ingredients 

    • 1 cup of unsalted butter
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 pound of powdered sugar
    • 1 tablespoon of milk (you can always add more if it isn’t thin enough)

    How-To

    1. Cream the butter.
    2. Add the vanilla extract.
    3. Gradually add the powdered sugar until it is really dry.
    4. Mix in the milk.
    5. Make your flowers!
  10. Assemble your cake.
  11. Store the cake in the refrigerator until ready the party!

I’ll just tell you, with all of that time and effort that goes into making a cake like this, it is very hard to see it cut into. Ouch!

My family didn’t want me to be sad that they were cutting into the cake, so they made me stab it with candles and cut it with the knife. Sad. But it sure was good! And it was so worth it for Margaret to have an awesome cake! You only turn 18 once! :-D

 

Here it goes, I removed the top layer so we could get to the vertical layered portion of the cake! Yum!

Ta da! Look at those layers! A definite show stopper.

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30 comments

    1. Haha…those flowers were actually my first EVER attempt at them, so that should be proof right now that they aren’t too hard. I just learned from videos off of youtube. Gotta love modern-day resources! ;-)

  1. Fabulously adorable! You are quite talented. And your family is lucky to have such a devoted and loving daughter/sister.

  2. I could never put this much care and attention into something that gets eaten. Hell, I hate to spend more than 30 minutes on dinner! It looks fantastic; I would just have it frozen and put on display.

  3. I just might have to ask you to make me a cake for MY birthday! That is absolutely amazing! It looks like something the cake boss would make!
    - your cousin, Hannah(:

  4. We missed out on a great party! What a professional-looking cake for the birthday girls. I am impressed, Caroline! A.S. must have been in icing-heaven.

  5. I am so glad that we are sisters. =) I will start sketching up a blue plan for mine now. It will be epic. Watch out Chocolate and Carrots…you haven’t even seen a birthday cake yet!

  6. WOW Caroline! I am beyond impressed! What an impressive looking cake! You should be so proud of yourself as I am sure your family is! What a great sister and daughter you are! Love the colors and details! Great job! :)

  7. wow that is incredible! i probably would have made a boring sheet cake…but this is inspiring me to try something new (or beg my sister to make me one for my birthday!!).

  8. This cake is eyecatching, for the lack of a better word! I am an ameteur baker, but I have hopes of attempting this cake for my soon-to-be 3-year old’s bday. The part that scares me the most is the fondant owl…I’ve never made fondont before and can’t even sketch an owl :) Any suggestions/advice on the fondant owl? Or a good “how to” website?

  9. Hey :) absolutely adore this cake!! Just wondering though how you stabilized it? Was it fine on it’s own, did you put boards between the layers? I can’t see anything but it looks to have held brilliantly!!

    1. Thank you Ellen! Yeah, it was held up by itself! :-) I frozen the layers before icing and that helped a lot when the frosting made its way onto the cake. :-)

  10. that is so cool! i love to bake, but i doubt i could make something like that! my friends and i love owls, i’m going to email this to them, they’ll love it!

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