My middle guy just turned 8 last week. Every year since he was able to talk, he’s demanded a very specific cake from me and every year I’ve done my best to meet his challenge. There was the year of the Pirate Ship cake, last year was a banana star cake, and let’s not forget the year he wanted a Rice Krispie castle, complete with a shark-filled moat!
This year he surprised me:
“Mom,” he said, “make me something really cool. Make me a cake that none of my friends have ever had!”
Well, that stumped me. And then I got a great idea! I’d build a volcano! Complete with lava! And dinosaurs! What 8yr old wouldn’t love that?
Ever great cake starts with a reliable cake recipe. My go-to recipe for chocolate cake is the same one my mom used for my birthday cakes growing up — it’s pretty much no-fail and comes out moist and brownie-like. I divided the batter between two tube pans, one large and one small, and baked them until an inserted toothpick came clean.
While the cakes cooled on racks, I covered a large pizza pan with foil. Once the cakes were cool to the touch, I took a bread knife and leveled off the top of the larger one and inverted it onto the pan — sticking it in place with some icing underneath. The hole in the bottom pan was a lot larger than the top cake, so I filled the hole a bit with pieces of the leftover top. I then repeated the same with the smaller one, carefully making sure that the center holes lined up. I covered the whole thing in chocolate icing.
I took some of the discarded pieces from the tops and shaped them into pieces to fit alongside the bottom, sticking them into place with icing and covering them with green icing to serve as land. The remaining surface of the pan was painted with blue icing for water. I tucked some plastic trees and dinosaurs onto the land, and a pteranodon up on top. Lava was made by filling the volcanic crater with cherry pie filling. The only thing I’ll note here is that the cherry filling should be added very close to serving as it can get the coloured icing a little yucky if it sits too long — this is primarily an aesthetic thing though, and doesn’t impact the “coolness factor”.
It was a delicious hit — Boy#2 was thrilled with his “totally cool” cake and I was thrilled that I’d thrilled him. Now, what to make for next year..