Sunday, August 11, 2013

Dr. Seuss Cake and Cupcakes

Dr. Seuss-themed birthday parties seem pretty popular for baby birthdays, and this is the second Dr. Seuss cake I've been asked to make this summer.  The first time I wasn't able to because I was out of town, so I was happy to get to make this one for a friend's baby's first birthday party.

The picture she showed me for inspiration was an all fondant cake, and since I knew I wouldn't be covering the cake in fondant, I adapted the design so it would work for buttercream.  I don't think a baby would like to eat all that fondant anyway, and babies covered in brightly colored buttercream make such a great photo op these days for the increasingly popular "smash cake".

And while the cake itself is frosted entirely in buttercream, I made the fish and all the letters and numbers out of gum paste, since I needed those to dry hard in order to stand up straight.  Gum paste is technically edible, but it sure doesn't taste very good if you've ever tried it.  So those pieces are just to look pretty, but should be removed (in particular the small pieces which could be a choking hazard) before the baby starts stuffing fistfuls of cake into his face.

If you've never used gum paste, it's fun to experiment with, and I've included here a photo tutorial for making the polka-dot pattern I created with different colors.  I think the most difficult thing about gum paste is simply that it dries so fast, so you really have to work quickly when rolling and cutting it out so that it doesn't dry out on you before you actually want it to.

Besides the cake, there were cupcakes - homemade carrot cake and red velvet - which I decorated with four different designs to correspond with the cake...

  • Blue swirls with red sprinkles
  • Red swirls with blue sprinkles
  • Red and white frosting piped like a little hat, and garnished with a red fondant bow
  • Blue frosting piped like the hair on Thing 1/Thing 2, and garnished with candy eyes and handmade paper toppers

I grew up reading so many Dr. Seuss books, and I'm glad that those classics are still favorites today!

One Year Ago:   Painting Summer with a Rainbow of Popsicles
Two Years AgoChocolate Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

Dr. Seuss Cake

For this Dr. Seuss Cake design, you will need...
  • 8-inch square cake (1 layer), frosted with Americolor "Sky Blue" tinted buttercream
  • 6-inch round cakes (2 layers), centered on the square cake, frosted with white buttercream and Americolor "Super Red" tinted buttercream, to create the stripes of the hat.
  • gum paste
  • Americolor gel food coloring in Black, Super Red, and Sky Blue
1. For the "one fish" letters, I used small fondant cutters to cut these from white gum paste.

2. For the "1", I tinted gum paste blue, and then cut the letter using a knife, leaving a 1 1/2 inch "stake" at the bottom, which I planned to insert into the cake to hold the number in place.

3. For the baby's name on top of the cake, see the picture tutorial above for creating the polka-dotted letters out of gum paste.

4. For the fish, I printed off an image in the size I wanted and cut out the shape on paper.  I laid the paper over the gum paste and etched the outline with a toothpick, before cutting it out free-hand with a knife.  After it had dried for a few hours, I dipped a small paint brush in black gel food coloring and painted the features of the fish, then let it dry thoroughly.

5.  I placed all the cutouts on a parchment lined baking sheet and let dry for two days to ensure they were very dry and hard (especially important for pieces that will be standing up straight).  Before decorating the cake, I brushed the cutouts with a dry brush dipped in a little edible pearl dust for a slight sparkle.

Dr. Seuss Cupcakes

For these four cupcake designs, you will need...
  • cupcakes, baked and cooled
  • white buttercream (vanilla, cream cheese or other flavor)
  • Americolor "Super Red" gel food coloring
  • Americolor "Sky Blue" gel food coloring
  • red, white and blue sprinkles and/or sparkling sugar
  • small amount of fondant, colored red
  • candy eyes
  • Wilton tips: large and small star tips, large drop flower tip, large round tip
1.  For the red/white striped hat with red bow design, pipe white buttercream onto the cupcakes with the large round tip.  Using a small star tip, pipe red buttercream into a small flat circle, filling in the middle of the circle.  Repeat with white buttercream on top of the red, then another layer of red, white and red to complete the hat.  Garnish with a red fondant bow (I made the bows by pressing red fondant into a small bow mold, and then letting dry for two days).

2.  For the "Thing" design, pipe sky blue buttercream onto the cupcakes using the large drop flower tip, pulling the tip away to create peaks that resemble the blue hair.  Garnish with the candy eyes.  To top these, I also made little "Thing 1, Thing 2" cupcake toppers by printing off the design on card stock or heavy paper, cutting it into circles, and taping the toppers to toothpicks.

3.  For the red/blue swirled designs, paint stripes of red food coloring up the inner seams of a piping bag and fill with white buttercream, using this striping technique.  Pipe onto the cupcakes and sprinkle with blue sprinkles.  Repeat with blue-striped swirls topped with red sprinkles.

Designs by Curly Girl Kitchen

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