Picture this. You ask your seven year old what kind of cake she wants for her birthday. She replies “a donut cake.” You remind her she already had a donut cake two years ago. “But I loved it, can you make me one again?”
And of course, you say yes. Because in the grand scheme of things, if it’s not outlandishly crazy, why not make the cake they want for their birthday?
But here’s the problem. There are not exactly a ton of donut cake inspiration ideas online. In fact, when I went to Google to search for “how to make a donut cake,” the last one I made her showed up as the first result. Now, in terms of creativity and deliciousness, that cake hit the mark. It was unusual, super tasty and Thing One went nuts over it.
However, it was NOT an attractive cake. Not at all. It was actually kinda ugly.
And I like my food to look pretty. So I hunted and hunted and I still found nothing. So I started asking her questions.
“Does it have to be made of donuts?”
“Um…yes, because it’s a DONUT cake mom.”
“Do you want one type of donut or several?”
“What if I made one GIANT donut as your cake?”
“What? How would you do that?”
(Whew, maybe I’d found a way out!)
“Yeah….like what if I made you a cake and it was either a huge donut or it looked like a huge donut?”
“Oh, that’d be cool.”
So I headed over to Amazon and I bought the silicone donut pan I’d been eying for awhile anyway. After all, who doesn’t need a cake pan that makes things look like donuts? I mean it should really be a basic item in any baker’s arsenal. I’m kind of ashamed of you if you don’t already have one. (Ok, ok, so I’ve only used it once. It still cost me less than it would have cost to go buy donuts and build a cake.)
From there, it was pretty simple. I baked a yellow cake in the donut pan and I baked a chocolate cake in a 12″ round springform pan. I let them both cool while I whipped up some marshmallow fondant.
Now, if working with fondant is new to you, don’t be fearful. I get it, I really do. It seems scary and usually, it tastes gross. It’s why I always stuck with butter cream. In fact, this cake marked the first time I’d ever used fondant. (I even rang up a friend that is a master baker and begged for her fondant recipes. She makes a cream cheese one that is to die for and that I’m sworn to secrecy on. )
In the end though, I decided to go with marshmallow fondant after finding this tutorial on YouTube. (You have GOT to have mad respect for a woman who names her bake shop the “Twisted Sifter.”)
It really is every bit as easy as she makes it look. Once you’ve made it, just add your food coloring and wrap it up tightly in Saran. (I use Duff Goldman food coloring, which you can buy on Amazon because he offers some fabulous colors that are nearly impossible to mix up on your own. )
Next I mixed up my standard butter cream frosting. Now, I generally do not like butter cream frosting. Bring me a cake from a bakery and I’ll nearly always scrape it off. It’s either too sweet or too oily. The exception to this is cakes from Costco. Costco butter cream frosting may be one of the most fattening vices I have. I can (and have) literally eat the frosting with a spoon. After ages of hunting and testing, I finally found a butter cream recipe that tastes like Costco’s.
Costco Style Buttercream Frosting
- 8 cups of powder sugar
- 1 cup high ratio shortening or sweetex
- 1 cup butter
- 2 tablespoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup of milk
Whip the butter and shortening on high for five minutes, then add the rest and mix until fluffy. A note here… You absolutely MUST use high ratio shortening to get the right taste and consistency out of this. If you try to use regular Crisco, I cannot be held responsible for the results. I know it takes extra effort, but find yourself a cake supply store and go buy some high ratio shortening. You’ll cry a bit when you taste this frosting and you’ll thank me.
Ok, so now that we’ve bake two cakes, made marshmallow fondant, run to the cake supply store and made butter cream frosting only the hard core bakers are left standing. (For the rest of you, I don’t judge. Honestly. Just buy your cake at Coscto so your frosting is still yummy)
Now we start building.
I put a crumb coat on the chocolate cake from the spring form pan.
Then I used a nice thick layer of butter cream frosting to glue the two halves of the donut cake together.
Once that was done, I used more butter cream frosting to fill in the edges where the donut cake was sandwiched together. This gives a smoother finish to work with.
Then I rolled out my first batch of marshmallow fondant. Some people swear by rolling out with Crisco to keep it from sticking or tearing, but I have the best luck with cornstarch. Plus, you can brush most of it off when you’re done and it doesn’t really leave much extra flavor behind.
Once it was rolled to size, I put it on the bottom chocolate cake layer.
Then I used a knife to trim the bottom of the cake.
Next, it was time to figure out how to wrap the donut. Now, there are people in the world who are brilliant with fondant. They use it like modeling clay to build shapes and wrap around edges. I’m not that person. My brain is more creative than what I’m physically capable of doing. So I sat and sat and sat trying to figure out how to wrap a donut in fondant without tearing it.
Then I gave up. It wasn’t going to happen. Then I realized it didn’t matter. I’d just “decide” we were having a chocolate glazed donut. After all, chocolate is great for hiding problems, right? 🙂
So before you go getting all impressed and stuff, just remind yourself that underneath that chocolate yumminess is a very badly patched fondant job. Actually, I take it back. Go ahead and be impressed. After all, it still LOOKS great, even if I had to improvise a bit.
Then it was just a matter of stacking the donut on top of the base cake and cutting out some fondant letters to spell Happy Birthday and rolling some balls of fondant to line the base of the cake. A few candles stuck in the middle and we were ready to roll.
All in all, this was a fairly time intensive cake. I probably had a good 7-8 hours into it over the course of two days. That, compared to the whopping 20 minutes it took me to assemble the last donut cake she had. Ahh well, they’re only seven once.