Making a birthday cake with your child's favourite cartoon character can be a way to make her next birthday a memorable one. Unfortunately, custom cakes can be very expensive to purchase. If you want to try decorating a cake at home, a premade cake pan in your child's favourite character shape gives you a good start. Then add frosting and decorations and create a fun party centrepiece. Even if you don't have much decorating experience, creating a cartoon character cake is something you can do at home.
Purchase a cake pan shaped like the character you want to decorate. Bake the type of cake you want from scratch or a cake mix. Cool the cake for at least one hour after it bakes.
Prepare buttercream frosting, using either a favourite recipe or one from a cookbook or the Internet. Whip the frosting until it is light and fluffy. You will be using the frosting to create a crumb coat, as well as for your final decorations.
Place the cake gently on a serving plate. Tuck small strips of waxed paper underneath the bottom edges of the cake, covering the exposed serving plate, to prevent frosting from dripping onto the plate while you are decorating.
Spoon frosting onto the middle of the cake and smooth out toward the edges with the offset spatula. Once the top of the cake is covered, frost the sides of the cake, holding the spatula at a 90-degree angle. This layer of frosting should be as thin as possible because you will add more later.
Refrigerate the cake for about 10 minutes, or until the frosting is stiff to the touch.
Look at a picture of the cartoon character to view the colours of frosting specific to that character. Keep the picture beside you while you are decorating.
Swirl a small amount of colouring into the frosting with a toothpick and then mix well with a spoon. Remember that you can always add more colour to the frosting if needed, but it's nearly impossible to take it away.
Attach a star tip to the decorating bag. Hold the bag in one hand and fold the top down, inside out over your hand, about a third of the way up from the tip of the bag. Fill the bag with approximately 1/2 cup of frosting, patting it in with the spatula.
Close the frosting bag by turning it right side out again and removing your hand. Twist it closed and then squeeze the bag until some frosting comes out the tip, removing all air from the bag.
Hold the bag at the twist with one hand and support the tip with the other. The star tip will create rosettes of frosting on your cake. Use a plate and practice making rosettes by placing the tip perpendicular to the plate and squeezing gently as you pull the tip away from the plate. The rosettes should as uniform as possible.
Squeeze rosettes, touching each other, in straight lines to fill in the cartoon character. For example, if the character has a blue shirt, use blue rosettes to fill in the shirt. Continue placing rosettes on the cake, switching colours as needed to replicate the cartoon character.
Attach a round tip to a decorating bag, and fill the bag with black frosting.
Squeeze the bag and outline the different colours of frosting to create definition between parts of your cartoon character. Place a line of frosting along all edges where two colours meet on the cake. If you make a mistake, put the cake in the freezer and remove the mistake with a toothpick once the frosting is hard.
Create facial features and details using the round tip. Make buttons by drawing a small, filled-in circle on the cake, or add freckles made of small black dots on the cheeks. Use the round tip to write a personal message on the cake. Add sprinkles, figurines, chocolate shavings and candles to embellish the cake more if you wish.
Cake decorating classes are available in most cities if you feel more assistance is required. Purchase a decorating kit stocked with the most common icing tips, or buy specific sizes individually.
Allow yourself some time to get used to using the decorating bags and rosette technique if this is your first cake. It is a good idea to practice a week or two ahead of your event.