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Three Birthday Cakes That Look Like Other Treats

Looking for a unique birthday cake to make for your child's celebration this year? We've got three recipes for cakes that look like other sweet treats, including a giant cupcake, a giant donut, and ice cream cones.

Basic Recipes

Each of these recipes calls for a certain quantity of butter cake and buttercream frosting.

Basic Butter Cake Batter  

4 oz. butter, softened
½ tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs
1½ cups flour
½ cup milk


Beat butter, vanilla, and sugar in a small bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Stir in sifted flour and milk.

Basic Buttercream Frosting

4 oz. unsalted butter, softened
1½ cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons milk


Beat butter in a small bowl with an electric mixer until white and frothy. Gradually beat in half the sifted confectioners’ sugar, then all of the milk, and then the remaining confectioners’ sugar.


Ice-cream Cones

They look so realistic, it’s hard to believe these little cakes aren’t really ice-cream cones. You may need to make more to feed the adults at the party.

ice cream cone cakes

6-hole, ¾-cup Texas muffin pan

1 batch Basic Butter Cake Batter
1 batch Basic Buttercream Frosting
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
Pink food coloring
6 square-based ice-cream cones

1½ oz. dark chocolate melts
Chocolate sprinkles
Red glacé cherries
Crushed unsalted peanuts
White chocolate chips
Wafer cookies


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease muffin pan.
  2. Make Basic Butter Cake Batter according to recipe. Drop 1/3 cup of the mixture into each hole; bake approximately 25 minutes. Stand cakes in pan 5 minutes before turning, top-side up, onto wire rack to cool.
  3. Trim tops of cakes into a dome shape, as pictured.
  4. Make Basic Buttercream Frosting according to directions above. Divide buttercream into three small bowls. Leave one bowl plain, stir sifted cocoa into another bowl, and tint the remaining buttercream with pink food coloring.
  5. Using picture as a guide, frost the cakes with the different colored buttercreams.
  6. Top each ice-cream cone with a cake. Melt chocolate; cool slightly before pouring over top of one ice-cream cake. Using the picture as a guide, decorate the cones using the decorations listed.

TIPS: You will have enough cake mixture left over to make four more ice-cream cones, if you like. Be careful handling the cones as they are a little top-heavy. If you like, fill the cones with candies—the extra weight will stop the cones from toppling over. Make one ice-cream cone cake for each party guest or arrange them on a long platter or board.


Giant Cupcake

You don’t need one of those giant cupcake pans to make this cake—it’s baked in an ordinary round cake pan.

giant cupcake cakeEquipment
Deep 8-inch round cake pan
12-inch round cake stand
Medium piping bag fitted with medium plain tube
Large piping bag fitted with large fluted tube

2 batches Basic Butter Cake Batter
3 batches Basic Buttercream Frosting

2 ounces ready-made white fondant
Yellow, blue, red, and pink food coloring
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
1 red lollipop
Red sugar sprinkles


  1. Preheat oven to 360°. Grease cake pan; line bottom and sides with parchment paper, extending paper 2 inches above side.
  2. Make two batches of Basic Butter Cake Batter according to recipe. Combine and spread mixture into cake pan; bake approximately 1 hour. Stand cake in pan 5 minutes before turning, top-side up, onto wire rack to cool.
  3. To make sprinkles, knead ready-made white fondant on surface dusted with a small amount of sifted confectioners’ sugar until fondant loses its stickiness. Divide fondant into three portions and dye each a different color using yellow, blue, and red food coloring. Lightly dust hands with confectioners’ sugar; roll fondant portions, one at a time, into very thin ropes (cover fondant not being used in plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out). Cut ropes into random lengths, leave to dry flat on baking paper.
  4. Brush lollipop lightly with water, roll it in red sugar sprinkles, and stand upright to dry.
  5. Make three batches of Basic Buttercream Frosting.
  6. Using small, sharp serrated knife, trim side of cake on an angle, to resemble the shape of a cupcake. Secure cake on cake stand with a little buttercream.
  7. To make the cupcake liner, spread side of cake lightly but evenly with buttercream. Fill medium piping bag with about half the remaining buttercream; using the picture as a guide, pipe vertical stripes up side of cake about ½-inch apart.
  8. Tint remaining buttercream with pink food coloring; fill large piping bag with buttercream. Starting from the outside edge of the cake, pipe a continuous swirl on top of the cake.
  9. Decorate cake with lollipop and colored sprinkles.

TIPS: The cake can be made a day before the party. Rather than make the sprinkles, cut colored Twizzlers or similar candy into thin slices.


Giant Donut Cake

You’re going to need a pretty big mug to dunk this donut!

giant donut cakeEquipment
12-inch savarin (ring) pan
14-inch round or square cake stand

4 batches Basic Butter Cake Batter
½ cup strawberry jam, warmed and strained
4½ cups pure confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup water, approximately
Pink food coloring

6 yellow and pink Twizzlers


  1. Preheat oven to 300°. Grease and flour savarin pan.
  2. If you only have one savarin pan, mix two batches of Basic Butter Cake Batter to make one cake according to the recipe. Spread mixture into pan; bake cake approximately 50 minutes. Stand cake in pan 5 minutes before turning onto wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining two batches of cake mix to make the second cake in cleaned savarin pan.
  3. Cut Twizzlers into thin strips, then into ½-inch lengths.
  4. Using a serrated knife, trim the flat bases on both cakes so they are level; spread cut surfaces with warmed jam. Place one cake, jam-side up, on cake stand; place remaining cake, jam-side down, on top of the other cake.
  5. To make icing, sift confectioners’ sugar into large heatproof bowl and stir in enough water to make a stiff paste; tint pink. Place bowl over large saucepan of simmering water, stir icing until smooth and of a pouring consistency (don’t let water touch base of bowl—if it overheats it will crystallize, and you will have to start again).
  6. Quickly pour the icing as evenly as possible over the cake (avoid using a spatula if possible). Decorate with sprinkles immediately before the icing sets.

TIPS: Bake one cake at a time, unless you have access to two savarin pans. Have the sprinkles close by for decorating, as this icing sets rapidly after it has been warmed. If you’re not happy with the icing, leave it to set completely, then snap or lift off any ugly pieces on the cake or the board. The cakes can be made and assembled one day ahead. Ice the cake up to an hour before serving.

Recipes reprinted with permission from Big Book of Kids’ Birthday Cakes © 2014 Sterling, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co. Inc. Photography by Julie Crespel and Dean Wilmot.


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