This is an easy baking project you can take on in an afternoon with your kids.
Step 1: Get Your Supplies Ready
Make sure you have your apron on because things are about to get messy. This is meant to be a kid-friendly baking project, so we're using simple ingredients and the end result will be less than perfect, but it will be a day of fun in the kitchen. I love to get my kids excited about baking projects.
Step 2: Make the Cakes
I use two boxed cake mixes for this cake. You will simply mix the cakes according to package directions.
Step 3: Bake the Cakes
Grease and line 3 six inch round cake pans with parchment. You'll use 1/2 of a prepared cake mix to fill each pan which will produce a very tall cake layer, leaving you with 1/2 of a prepared mix you won't need for this recipe. You can bake it up for something to snack on while you decorate the cake.
Step 4: Prepare the Frosting
I made a simple, classic butter cream for this cake. This will give you a delicious, easy to spread frosting. However, if the slight yellow color bothers you, you can use pure white canned frosting. I find that by the time the cake is decorated, the buttercream hardly shows through. Just mix 2 sticks softened salted butter, 5 Cups powdered sugar, 2 tsp vanilla, and 2 Tablespoons half & half. Whip until fluffy.
Step 5: Let the Cakes Cool
Once your cakes are baked, let them cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edge and remove the cake. Allow it to cool thoroughly on wire wracks. You can use a serrated knife to level off the tops of your cakes before staking them.
Step 6: Stack the Cake Layers
Place one layer of your cake onto a plate or cake stand. Use some of the frosting you made to glue the layers together as you stack them on your plate. Freeze the cake for an hour before you frost the outsides. This will make it more sturdy and will prevent crumbs from getting into your frosting.
Step 7: Get Ready to Make the Pretzel Rods
The pretzel rods will be the decoration for your cake. You will need a 14 ounce bag of rods, a jar of nonpareils, 1 pound of white chocolate candy melting wafers, and 4 ounces red candy melting wafers.
Step 8: Dip the Pretzel Rods
Melt the white candy melting wafers in the microwave according to package directions and place them in a tall glass. Dip the rods slowly into the candy coating and lift them out slowly. Place them on parchment or a wire baking rack to set up. If the candy coating begins to harden before you've finished, just microwave it for 30 seconds and stir. I let the kids do the dipping and they do a great job. If you're worried about the chocolate being the same length on every pretzel, you might want to watch closely. I kind of like the imperfect, homemade look.
Step 9: Decorate the Pretzel Rods
Melt the red candy coating. Use the tines of a fork to pick up some of the coating. Move your wrist back and forth quickly to create splatters on the rods. Immediately sprinkle on some nonpareils onto the rods before the red coating dries. Allow the rods to dry completely.
Step 10: Frost the Cake and Attach the Rods
Once your cake has set up in the freezer, frost the entire surface with the buttercream frosting you made. Simply begin to place your decorated pretzel rods all around the cake, setting them close together. Press them just slightly so they stick to the frosting.
Step 11: Make the Coconut Topping
Put a one pound bag of sweetened, shredded coconut into a large bowl. Squeeze on a few drops of pink food coloring and use two forks to mix the coloring into the coconut. This will serve as the topper for your cake.
Step 12: Finish the Cake
Once you get the pretzel rods placed all around your cake, pile the coconut topping in the middle. You find out that pretzel rods may seem straight, but they are anything but!. I think the imperfect lines make the cake more endearing, but you'll find versions of this on social media in which every single one is perfect. I think those people must have use 17 bags of pretzels to find all the straight ones. We didn't care to do that because right after we took this picture, we sliced out big pieces and ate them. This was a delicious cake. The salt of the pretzels created such a nice contrast to the super sweet cake, butter cream, and coconut. This was a fun baking project and a great way to spend a cold afternoon with the kids. Would make a lovely Valentine's day gift for a loved one too.