I know a little boy who is OBSESSED with dinosaurs…and he was about to turn 3. I knew I had to design a cake with plenty of dinosaurs, but I wanted to make sure he was ridiculously excited about his cake. There couldn’t just be a volcano for looks on this cake, it had to ERUPT! I also cannot make a cake that just looks cute, but I always want to blow people’s socks off with taste, both kids and adults. A cake that tastes so good, I don’t care what diet you are on, you can NOT just have one bite!
I made the top 6″ tier a vanilla confetti cake with my Perfect Ratio Dreamy Cream Cheese Frosting to make sure any of the kids, including the birthday boy, who have a hard time trying something new would love. The bottom 8″ tier I used the same cake and frosting, but added my Razzleberry fruit filling in between each frosted layer so the older kids and adults had something they could really sink their teeth into and not just enjoy, but savour every single bite. I also added some pretzel rods to add interest to the cake design, and who doesn’t like a sweet and salty treat with your cake? I know I do! Sweet-n-salty as well as sweet-n-sour are my two favorite sweet flavor combinations.
I made the volcano out of rice cereal marshmallow treats, but of course I cannot just go with ordinary so I made Peanut Butter Rice Cereal Marshmallow Treats (recipe below). I used a wide mouth canning jar up against the stacked cake layers, and build the volcano around it with the warm, still pliable marshmallow treats. The glass jar then becomes the reservoir for the water and dry ice I will add as we sing happy birthday to add the effect of the volcano erupting. I made sure the volcano went above the stacked cake layers, as well as the glass jar. To make sure the shape held, I would have to push the marshmallow treats as they cooled to make sure they stayed to get the shape I wanted for the volcano. I wasn’t about to use frosting on the volcano, so I made a chocolate ganache to frost the volcano knowing the flavor of the chocolate compliments the peanut butter the best in my mind, as well as getting a great dark texture on the volcano.
AND yes, when it is project go time, all order goes out the window and my counters get crazy. I intentionally wanted textured green frosting on the cake layers, not smooth, and I for sure didn’t want the grass to look cheesy but more artistic. I also didn’t want to use any piped tips to avoid anything that might look “girly” for this manly man-boy turning 3! For the water falls and the lava, I just filled a decorating bag without a piping tip. I also do not like one-dimensional color, so I added stripes of aqua, blue, and the plain white frosting for the water. For the lava, I mixed a deep orange red, and a bright orange-yellow that I put half and half in the piping bag to get the variegated colors.
I added in the dinosaurs, trees, and shrubs to add interest, keeping in mind I didn’t want the green dinosaur to be in front of the green frosted cake background, so I switch it with the yellow one after this picture was taken. Mis up the colors to keep the eye moving with an artistic balance. I also crushed graham crackers that I sprinkled on the white frosting I added to the cake drum to make the beach of the dinosaur island cake. It’s looking great, but it was missing that extra umph…
I slept on it, happy with what I had, but I knew there was something more I needed. I thought about a number 3 candle, but I just feel they are so lackluster, common, and do not add to the look of a cake. I had made a double batch of my The Last Sugar Cookie Cutout Recipe You Will Ever Need for shamrock cookies I was planning to decorate with St. Patrick’s day around the corner, and I had a huge spider web cookie cutter from Halloween, and it hit me–make a Dono-tastic 3 with scales and colors that will pop with the cake!!! I also added the 3 cake balloons, and I was thrilled! It was ready!!!
In fact, we wouldn’t keep the birthday boy from touching all the aspects of the cake, wanting to play with the dinosaurs, or eat the cake right away! Fortunately the party was at Flip ‘N Out Extreme so there was plenty to distract him when all the kids started arriving. His reaction to the cake was priceless, and just brings me such joy!!! Oh, I forgot. Did you notice the gold dinosaur egg? I used gold dusting powder on a small cadbury egg. The birthday boy definitely couldn’t wait to devour it! He was so excited, I cannot but beam thinking about it! The whole party was a hit! There was no cake thrown out or left uneaten!!! I loved how many adults who originally didn’t want any cake because of watching what they ate, or not liking anything that is “sickeningly sweet” were devouring a slice. I got so many compliments on how cute the cake was at the beginning of the party, but the spark in their eyes when they made sure to come tell me how yummy the cake was! One gal was hilarious, and said she only took a slice to be nice and thought she would take a bit and throw the rest away, but she couldn’t stop raving how yummy the cake was! I love it! It makes me so happy!
Vanilla Confetti Cake
This cake recipe will knock anyone’s socks off, it is so good. AND it will dazzle any kid with the fun confetti sprinkles in the cake batter. Check out the Perfect Ratio Cream Cheese Buttercream Recipe that is easy to decorate with AND tastes amazing with this cake. NOTE: I wrap up the baked and cooled cake layers I am not immediately using in plastic wrap, and freeze for up to 3 weeks. Freezing cakes like this keeps them moist when thawed and ready to use.
1 white box cake mix
1 box vanilla instant pudding
1/2 c sour cream
1) Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees F …cook low and slow, and you may need to add time to the suggested bake time; use a toothpick or cake tester to check doneness in the center before you pull the layers out of the oven.
2) Prepare your layer cake pans AND bundt cake with my Quick-Release Cake Prep Mix (recipe below). **Even if you have a non-stick pan, it is worth using the Quick-Release Cake Prep Mix–after all your time and energy making and baking your cake, the last thing you want is to have half of it stick to the pan, and get a big crumbled pile of cake.
3) Mix all the ingredients except the sprinkles and fruit filling in a stand mixer, or a large bowl and hand mixer until smooth. It will be thick. Do not over mix.
4) Mix in the sprinkles and stir by hand with a spatula or spoon.
5) Divide your batter between your prepared cake pans. Level your batter in the pan (knock the cake pan on the counter top to get rid of air bubbles) before baking.
*For a 3″ layer in a 6″ round pan, use 3 cups of batter, and bake for 35-40 min.
*For a 2″ layer in a 6″ round pan, use 2 1/4 cups batter, and bake for 28-36 min.
*For a 3″ layer in a 8″ round pan, use 5 cups of batter, and bake for 35-40 min.
*For a 2″ layer in a 8″ round pan, use 4 cups batter, and bake for 28-36 min.
*For a bunt cake, use the number of cups your bunt cake pan is sized by. If you overfill your bunt cake pan, it will overflow in the oven and create a huge mess to clean up…and ani’t no one got time for that! Don’t forget to grease and flour your bunt cake pan.
Razzleberry Fruit Filling
3 c fresh or frozen mix of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries
1/2 c lemon juice
1 c sugar
4 T corn starch, mixed in 1 c cold water
1) Add all the ingredients except the corn starch & water mix in a sauce pan on med heat.
2) Mash all the berries, sugar, and lemon juice with a potato masher. As the mix heats up and starts to boil, the berries will give off more of their juices and the sugar will dissolve.
3) After the mix has had a chance to heat through, the berries give off their juices, and the sugar is dissolved, pour the mix into a blender. Blend until smooth and even.
4) Strain the juice back into the rinsed pan through a metal sieve using a metal spoon to circulate the seeds to get all the juice through. Discard the seeds.
5) Bring the seedless berry mix to a boil.
6) Add the corn starch and water mix, and let boil stirring constantly until thickened.
7) Let the fruit filling cool before adding to an airtight dish to chill in the refrigerator. DO not use to fill cakes or to add to frostings until completely chilled.
8) To fill a cake: frost the bottom layer with an even coating of frosting, pipe a frosting “dam” around the boarder of the frosted cake, then dollop a general tablespoon or two depending on the layer size, and spread evenly to the dam before topping with another layer of cake; and repeat until the top layer.
Note: Let’s get real. I love to cook once and use multiple times. This recipe is modified from using a full 48 oz. bag of organic mixed berries consisting of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries from my local bulk store. I then store in an airtight container and either keep in the fridge if I use it quickly, or freeze to have on hand and thaw as needed.
Quick-Release Cake Prep Mix
In a 1:1:1 ratio, mix flour, lard or shortening, and vegetable oil. Mix until evenly incorporated, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. For example, I use 1 cup of each ingredient to mix up and have on hand to prepare all my cake pans before adding batter, and then baking. Cakes will come out clean and easily, with no sticking. I coat my pans with this mix using a silicone baster brush. I also add a cut parchment paper to the bottom of any flat bottomed cake pan I use.