The Horse Birthday Cake

by Bryan on May 30, 2009

My son just turned two and has become obsessed with horses. I decided to try to make him a horse cake for his birthday. I searched for designs on the Internet, and most seemed pretty wasteful. I found one I wanted to attempt at

Frankly, I moderately shocked myself by pulling it off. I am a better than average baker (imo), and enjoy baking, but decorating has never been my strong suit. So, this is obviously a well thought out and described design.

I really wanted to make the cake from scratch. However I tried two different recipes over the last few months, and neither made the cut, so to speak. Therefore I went with a Classic Yellow mix from Duncan Hines.


I have round cake pans, so did not need those. However my square pan is pyrex, while the cake pans are dark metal. From experience I knew this would cause the two halves to bake for different times, and probably brown differently. Therefore I made a run to the store to get a metal 9″ pan. While there I picked up a metal offset spatula for frosting to complement the smaller one I had for details.

A serving platter was a challenge I did not plan for. It’s an odd size cake, but fortunately we had a rectangular serving tray that it just fit on. My other piece of indispensable hardware is my digital scale.

The cake is made out of an 8″ round and 9″ square cake. Since both cakes needed to be reasonably the same depths, determining how much to put in each pan would be a challenge. Most normal folks would have been happy to eyeball it, or gauged by depth. I of course felt compelled to bring math to the party. I have been convinced by Alton Brown (or ‘AB’ to his devoted followers) that baking by weight is the way to go. I will certainly post more on this later. For this application I determined that the split between pans should be 38.3% 8″ round, 61.7% square. So I weighed my mixing bowl empty, weighed it full of batter to determine weigh of batter, then multiplied the weight of batter by .383 to determine how much went in the round pan. Yeah… that’s the way I roll.


From experience I knew that you want the cake to be fully cooled. So I baked them the night before. I lined the bottoms with parchment so I could leave them in the pan over night. They came out easy-peasy the next day. Then I had to cut and combine them.


The next step was frosting. This time I went old school (mostly) and made ganache. I’ll have to make a separate post about the ganache. I actually started the ganache earlier, since I needed plenty of time for it to cool.


This is the moment when I realized that I was going to actually pull this off. The final step was decorating. If you checked out the link already, you know that it called for Fruit by the Foot, Necco Wafers, Junior Mints, Chocolate sprinkles, Chocolate Twizzlers, white icing and a black jelly bean.

I skipped the jelly bean and just used a mint cut in half. Also, while assembling I liked the look of the gray necco wafer over the white.


The twizzlers were a challenge. I did not like them at first, so I split them length-wise. I think that made them lay nicer.


I also didn’t like the whole “sprinkles as eyelashes” design element. I needed longer sprinkles. I did find that a toothpick with just a dash of frosting made an excellent tool to pick up and place each sprinkle.


Overall I enjoyed the experience and was very satisfied with the result. I look forward to the big reveal to my son tonight. And I learned a few things:

  1. There are chocolate twizzlers… really.
  2. Fruit by the Foot is stocked with the granola bars in my grocery.
  3. They break out sugar and corn syrup as separate ingredients in Fruit by the Foot, why do I think combined they would be the #1 ingredient?
  4. They still make Necco Wafers.
  5. Doing cakes like this is a pain, but…
  6. Doing cakes like this is kind of fun as well.


And the final word from the only critic that matters:

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