A cowgirl-themed birthday cake for twin girls… one insisted there be a cow on the cake, and one insisted there be a horse. So, we ended up with this.
It’s all buttercream, and really only three colors (chocolate, black and white), so it’s not too hard to accomplish. The real surprise is inside of the cow tier– which is also cow-spotted.
What You Need:
Cake Mix or Recipe for 1 vanilla and 1 chocolate cake
1 recipe Buttercream Icing
Double recipe of Chocolate Buttercream Icing
Black Icing Coloring
Food-safe dowel rods
6″ & 8″ cake pans
Piping Bags and Tips #7, 10, 233
Bake the Cakes:
You will need two layers each of 8″ and 6″ round cakes. (I used two cake mixes, one chocolate and one white. And I used my “How to make a cake mix taste homemade” tricks for making them taste better.)
I made two 6″ layers of chocolate for the horse layer.
For the cow spots inside of the cake, I measured out 3 cups of vanilla batter and 2 cups of chocolate batter (because my Favorite Cake Pan – 8″x3″– uses 5 cups of batter).
I colored the chocolate with a little black food coloring, and used a big ice cream scoop (about 1/3 cup in each scoop) to make alternating areas of black and white.
I really liked the way it looked out of the oven! Cow spots! Love it!
I missed out on a great inside pic of the cake, but you can pretty much see here how fun it is!
Make and Color the Icing
Click the links below for recipes and tutorials on the icing:
Basic Decorator’s Buttercream Icing (Used for the white)
Chocolate Buttercream Icing (I made a double-batch to use for the chocolate and black)
(You will need about 2-3 cups of black icing. Using chocolate icing to make the black means you will use way less food coloring than using the white icing to make the black.)
Decorate and Assemble the Cakes
To decorate the cow cake, I covered the cake in white icing, then added cow spots in black with tip #10. To smooth out the spots, I used my spatula and gently swept it over the spots.
To get the spots even more smooth, I waited about 15 minutes, then used a Viva-brand paper towel to gently smooth the spots. (Lay the towel on top of the icing, and gently rub with your hand to get the icing smooth– being careful not to press into the icing, or it will just stick to the paper towel.)
*Note: You can only do this if you use a decorating icing that develops a “crust” so that it won’t stick to the towel.
To prepare the cow tier for stacking the horse tier on top, use a food-safe dowel rod. Insert it into the cake, to get the height.
(Please note that this picture is before smoothing the spots with the paper towel.)
Then cut the dowel rod to the cake height (not the icing height). Cut four or five similarly-sized rods to strengthen the cake for holding up the top tier.
Place a 6″ cake board on top of the bottom tier where you will want to place your top tier. Press the edges to see where to place your dowel rods.
Insert the dowel rods in the bottom tier.
Set the two 6″ chocolate layers on a cardboard cake circle that is also 6″ in diameter. Cover the cake with chocolate frosting before stacking it on top of the cow layer. (I have a thin layer of chocolate frosting between the two layers, as well.)
I waited to add any of the horse decoration to the cake until after I’d stacked the cakes so that I could hide any smudges from stacking and supporting it along the way.
Place the 6″ layer on top of the cow layer.
Add a Tip #12 rope border where the two cakes meet. (I mixed some of each the chocolate and the white to get the lighter brown color. I may have added a few drops of yellow coloring to it, as well.)
Click the link to see my Video of How to Make a Rope Border.
The Number Seven on the cake is also made with the rope technique, using Tip #5.
Now, if you are not having to take the cake anywhere, you can skip the next step of securing the two layers together. But if you have any transporting to do, I highly recommend it.
To keep the cake stable for transporting, use another food-safe dowel rod. Measure and cut it to the height of the entire, stacked cake. (Hold it straighter than I am in this picture… you’ll see why in a second.)
Using a pencil sharpener – I recommend having a ‘dedicated’ pencil sharpener for this purpose. I don’t want pencil shavings in my cake! – sharpen one end of the dowel rod. You do this so that you can “hammer” it through the cardboard cake board underneath your top tier.
Insert the dowel rod into the top tier until it stops (usually at the cardboard), then use a little hammer to punch it through the board. Press the stick all the way to the bottom of the cake. It should be shorter than the top of the cake, like you see in the photo above…
Not like you see here– this is why I mentioned holding the rod straight in the earlier photo. If you cut it too high, you have to take it back out, shorten it, it’s just a waste of time. Be more careful than I was! (wink)
For the finishing touches, I added a horse’s eye, ears, bridle and mane to the top tier. I used Tip #5 and brown to make the almond-shaped outline of the ears and the eye, filled the eye in with black, and added a tiny dot of white in the eye, as well.
The bridle is made using black icing in Tip #5 and the rope technique described above.
The mane is made using Tip #233 with some black and some brown.
And that’s all. It’s not a quick cake to make, but there’s not a lot of coloring to be done, and none of the techniques is that challenging (though the rope takes some practice).
The birthday girls were very happy with their cake (and so was I)!