There’s something magical about creating a custom cake for a birthday party. I’ve made so many at this point, but still love the process from start to finish. First, I love hearing the parents’ or significant others’ ideas for the party theme and learning about the birthday boy or girl’s favorite things. Next, I like to move into a creative, brainstorming zone to take all of their feedback and identify a cake design or tablescape that would exceed their expectations. Recently, I was chatting about this process with the 12 Oaks team and began remembering some of my favorite custom birthday cakes. I thought, why not share them with you as well! While I enjoy all of our custom cakes, these are my Top Five Faves for custom birthday cakes.
Robot Dessert Table Birthday Cake
This dessert table was created for a long-time client in Manhattan for her son’s 2nd birthday. The theme was all about robots. In addition to the custom cake we also designed custom cake pops to accentuate the tablescape (my favorite part). These were exciting to create because I could make them look all wonky and have fun with their faces. I don’t think a single cake pop looked the same. Plus, I was able to incorporate different types of candy like M&Ms and Twizzlers.
As for the birthday cake, my favorite part of the robot cake was the ON/OFF switch which we added at the last minute to the back of it. It always made me and the team laugh! We also designed custom signs to help decorate the table ie. DANGER, HIGH VOLTAGE, which made the table look even more playful.
It’s worth noting that this cake was one of my first kids’ birthday cakes, so there were LOTS of lessons to be learned! I’ll share some with you to give you a leg up in your endeavors. 😉
When doing a tiered fondant cake, be sure that the layers are even and have time to “rest” in a refrigerated environment (ideally overnight) before putting the fondant on. This helps eliminate any bulges.
Also, it’s so much easier to draw any details on your fondant decorations before placing them on the cake! Ie. we used black edible pens for the “buttons” on the robot
Make sure to use a large enough cake board so you have room to add the decorations and the cake can “breath”.
I learned very quickly that fondant does not harden by putting it in the freezer (where did we even come up with that idea?!). Take our word for it! It simply needs time, so be sure to plan for additional resting.
Ballet Slipper Birthday Cake
To this day, this Ballet Slipper cake makes me “oooh and ahhh”. Ballet (and the American Ballet Theater in particular) has always had a special place in my heart. In fact, when 12 Oaks Desserts was based in Manhattan, the team would try to see several performances a year. But, I digress. Back to the cake: I enjoyed creating the Ballet Slipper cake from start to finish. The client was actually a husband ordering a special surprise 50th birthday cake for his wife who was a former ballerina with American Ballet Theater.
Because the overall cake was so simple, it was important that it be perfect. I made the fondant ballet shoes a few days in advance so they had time to dry. It was important to put dowels in the “point” of the slipper so they could be inserted into the cake and give it more support. I decided to use real ribbon as I thought it would tie in nicely with the ribbon the ballet dancers use.
Kung Fu Panda Birthday Cake
The Kung Fu Panda birthday cake is a favorite because it was so fun (and challenging!) to make all of the different characters. I made this 10” cake (which serves about 28) with vanilla cake and vanilla buttercream icing for our client’s son’s 5th birthday party.
Creating characters in fondant is a lot of work, but it can also be so rewarding when they come to life. These characters were all so different and had such personalities. The key to capturing all of their charisma is to focus on the details, like evoking some of Po’s goofiness through his eyes. Definitely start ahead of time and give yourself extra time for all those little details! Most aspects of the characters were done with different colored fondant, but I also used edible markers and paints for some of the finer details (like the snakeskin and Tigress’s clothes).
5 Little Ducks Birthday Cake
The Duck Birthday Cake was created for a joint event to celebrate our client’s toddler’s 2nd birthday and the birth of their second son. For this 10” cake I used fondant and added a little bit of a marble effect to create the look of the lake in addition to making the Mama duck and baby ducks. Initially, this Duck cake felt like a fairly simple design, based on their son’s favorite children’s rhyme “5 Little Ducks”. But, again, it’s all in the details. When it all came together I thought it was such a sweet cake. I loved the soft colors and the little “water” swirls in the fondant, as well as the grasses “bending” in the wind on the sides of the cake.
Pirate Birthday Cake
This Pirate cake might be a favorite of mine simply because the client’s request for the cake was to meld two very different ideas. It was for a long-time customer who always ordered her birthday cakes with us. We’d done mermaids, spongebob, zootopia, etc. This year her son requested a pirate cake, but also wanted to make sure there were gingerbread men on the cake. What a request! So, they became gingerbread pirates. We did our signature “sprinkles” cake and customized the sprinkles and then added the gingerbread men to the top. Outfitting the gingerbread men as pirates was just so much fun — they seem really into their new look, right?