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what is a good home made cake recipe to use for a 3D dinosaur cake? Answered

I'm going to make the 3D dino cake that I found on this site. A home made cake was recommended over the mixes because they are denser. Does anyone know of a good recipe that is dense and not at flakey as the mixes?


I agree with Canida. For any cake where you'll be doing sculpture, you want a very dense recipe. I'm a chocolate fiend, and I've had good luck doing the following recipe in sculpted cakes. SInce you're doing a dino, and will probably be doing a darker frosting, chocolate should be fine from a color standpoint. (Let me know if you want a recipe for a good decorating buttercream recipe or royal icing for details...I just finished a pastry class and have all my notes handy.) # 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting # 2 cups sugar # 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder # 2 teaspoons baking soda # 1 teaspoon baking powder # 1 teaspoon kosher salt # 1 cup buttermilk # 1/2 cup vegetable oil # 2 large eggs # 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract # 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee Directions 1. MAKE THE CAKE: Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and line them with parchment paper; butter the paper. Dust the pans with flour, tapping out any excess. 2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the flour with the sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt at low speed. In a medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk with the oil, eggs and vanilla. Slowly beat the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients until just incorporated, then slowly beat in the hot coffee until fully incorporated. 3. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then invert the cakes onto a rack to cool completely. Peel off the parchment paper. 4. MAKE THE FROSTING: In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the chocolate at high power in 30-second intervals, stirring, until most of the chocolate is melted. Stir until completely melted, then set aside to cool to room temperature. 5. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat for 1 minute, scraping down the side of the bowl. At low speed, slowly beat in the confectioners’ sugar, about 1 minute. In a small bowl, dissolve the instant coffee in 2 teaspoons of hot water. Slowly beat the coffee and the cooled chocolate into the butter mixture until just combined. 6. Set a cake layer on a plate with the flat side facing up. Evenly spread one-third of the frosting over the cake to the edge. Top with the second cake layer, rounded side up. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and side of the cake. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before slicing.

I'll be attempting a 3-D cake for my son's b-day this weekend and have chosen to use your recipe. I'd also like to use the frosting recipe as well. Will you please post the specific ingredients and quantities so that I may do so? Thank you. Fingers crossed for a structurally-impressive chocolate Thomas the Tank Engine birthday cake. :)

Here's two. One that is amazing, pipes well and tastes good...but is ridiculously labor intensive, and depending on the size of your cake, you may have to keep putting stuff in the cooler...(I'll put a much easier recipe too...which, for a kid's cake...may be the way to go. They don't have the palate to know the difference. :)

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting: (adapted from Barefoot Contessa book)

* 1 pound bittersweet chocolate
* 12 ounces semisweet chocolate
* 3/4 cup egg whites (4 to 5 extra-large eggs), at room temperature
* 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
* 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
* 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 1/2 pounds unsalted butter, at room temperature
* 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
* 3 teaspoons instant espresso powder, dissolved in 1 1/2 teaspoons water
* 3 tablespoons dark rum, optional

Chop the chocolates and place them in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan simmering water. Stir until melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

Mix the egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Place the bowl of egg whites over the pan of simmering water and heat the egg whites until they are warm to the touch, about 5 minutes. Return the bowl to the electric mixer and whisk on high speed for 5 minutes, or until the meringue is cool and holds a stiff peak.

Add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, while beating on medium speed. Scrape down the bowl, add the melted chocolate, vanilla, espresso, and rum, if using, and mix for 1 minute or until the chocolate is completely blended in. If the buttercream seems very soft, allow it to cool, and beat it again.

Yield: about 4 cups

Super easy chocolate buttercream: Note, because temperatures and humidity conditions are different in every kitchen, you may have to tweak these ratios a bit to get exactly the consistency you need. Softer for spreading; harder for detail piping.

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1 cup very soft (really...room temp for about an hour, soft) butter. (I use salted, if you use unsalted, you may want to add salt to the recipe, but remember that added salt can "bloom", or cause spots in your finished frosting. Salted butter doesn't have that problem)

1 pound powdered sugar.

1-6 tbs cream or 1/2 and 1/2, as needed to soften the texture.

Mix cocoa with soft butter. With the mixer on, slowly sift the powdered sugar into the chocolate mix.

Add cream as needed to soften the icing.

Use at room temp for crumb-coating, or spreading.

If possible, keep cake cool after it's iced.

Thanks so much for your prompt response. I think I'll wimp out and use the super easy chocolate buttercream, emphasis on easy. :) Will Wilton frosting colors hold true with the chocolate hue from the cocoa?

No...not really. Just like painting, mixing anything with brown is going to give you a muddy color. What you might want to do for colors, is go with just a regular buttercream...skipping the cocoa, and upping the powdered sugar, and then divide it to color as needed.

For instance, with a Thomas cake, you'll need more blue than anything, and maybe pull a 1/4 - 1/2 cup out for each of the detail colors. Also, keep in mind that for 3d cakes/carved cakes/structural cakes, you'll need more frosting than you think. Have the ingredients to make two batches, just in case.

Another alternative is to crumb coat the cake with chocolate icing, and then use fondant over the icing to get the colors that you want. Hobby shops like Michaels and Hobby Lobby sell pre-colored fondant...some of which are already rolled out into sheets...which saves you the hassle of coloring and rolling it out. Fondant is nowhere near as easy as the folks on Challenge make it look, but it's not so difficult that you'll be tempted to run away to join a nunnery. ;) You do need a few tools, but I think Wilton makes cheap versions of the smoother, which is probably the only specialty tool you really, really, need. (Also you'll want a sharp knife, and perhaps something like a fondant mat/Silpat so it doesn't stick to your counters if you have to roll it out. Possibly biscuit cutters/cookie cutters for any specific shapes if you (like me) are not terribly good at freehand cutting. :)

I personally really hate the taste of fondant unless I've made a marshmallow fondant, so I usually try to do everything with buttercream when I can. It just means that sometimes you'll end up with left over icing, because you've had to make enough for all the colors.

One last bit of advice: Be calm. Kids are not judges. They are so happy about the whole concept of *cake*, that they don't even notice things like flaws or mistakes, or heck even huge booboos. Just remember that you're doing this for your little dude, and not for a panel of observers. Don't freak out about perfection...have fun, make it taste good, and enjoy your little one while he's still little. :)

Good luck, it'll be fantastic, you'll see!

Thank you again for the input, I don't think I'll brave the world of fondant this time. :) I found a white chocolate frosting recipe I'm going to try and I bought plenty of ingredients, just in case... The pep talk was great, you're right, it's the effort that counts. My son, will just be happy the cake is Thomas and that he will get a big fat piece. :)

Make sure you take pics, and then link them here! I can't wait to see! :)

erm, sorry...copy and pasted from notes there...ignore the part about icing. ;)


9 years ago

I'd go for a good pound cake, but don't have a specific favorite recipe to recommend; this one looks fine. You can also try adding sour cream or pudding to a boxed mix - this makes a much moister, denser cake that may work more easily for the dinosaur cake.