How to NOT decorate a dinosaur cake

As we are fast approaching the fourth anniversary of me becoming a mother, I thought it would be great to have a fancy/3D cake to celebrate this year instead. Normally, I would decorate my cakes with a chocolate frosting and try to get creative with the toppings. However, I was determined to improve my decorating skills, so I bought a dinosaur cake pan from Amazon and a new hand mixer. Here’s the result of my first try at decorating a novelty dinosaur cake using buttercream.

 

Did things go according to plan when I tried to decorate my first dinosaur cake?

Noooooooo! I ended up with a dinosaur cake that looked like it was decomposing from an acid rain. I beg you, please do not laugh at my dinosaur cake

How to NOT decorate a dinosaur cake using buttercream frosting

When I unpacked my dinosaur cake pan the night before I was meant to use it, the instructions recommended using a cake tin spray. My mother, who taught me how to bake, only ever used butter to line her tins. Since I’ve been baking, I’ve only ever used butter to line my cake tins. So I thought, what could go wrong, right? Wrong! a lot went wrong!! When I tried to take the cake out of the dinosaur cake pan (after waiting a few minutes for it to cool down), the bottom was stuck tight that the cake broke into two horizontally.

I wasn’t to be defeated though, I scrapped the stuck on cake with my fingers and plonked it on top of the rest of the cake. It looked a right disaster!

dinosaur cake buttercream frosting

I got my butter and sugar and whipped up my buttercream. When that was done, I added some drops of supermarket brand food colouring. My daughter’s first comment was that the colouring looked like slime. As I slathered on the buttercream, I noticed that the green colour started separating from the buttercream. This was my first time using buttercream this way and I could not figure out what had gone wrong. Why was the food colouring seeping out of my buttercream and looking like a failed mad scientist lab experiment?

 

Cake decorating is a MASTER level skill

So now, I have a cake that vaguely has the shape of a dinosaur with buttercream and green colouring separating out. I was still hopeful! I got my icing syringe, added some pink food colouring to the rest of the buttercream and went to work on the teeth. After my ‘creation’ was complete, I developed a new found respect for cake makers who can create beautifully decorated cakes. You need very steady hands and a lot of patience to decorate a cake.

After I ‘finished’ decorating the dinosaur cake, I asked my daughter if she could tell that the cake broke and she said no. As I looked at the cake, it was a true reflection of life, my life! You may look pretty on the outside, but only very few would know how broken you are on the inside. My dinosaur cake was the true definition of the word, as they say in Nigeria, packaging [said with Nigerian pidgin]. My cake was nicely packaged and no one would ever have known, without being told, that the cake was 50% broken on the inside.

 

What did I learn from trying to decorate a dinosaur cake?

I needed to know where I went wrong, so I posed the question to members of my local mommy group. Here are their answers:

  1. Novelty cakes are a pain to take out of the pan, grease and flour the cake pan
  2. Consider trying Wilton Cake Release Baking Tin Coating.
  3. It doesn’t matter what the cake looks like, the most important thing is that you and your daughter spent some quality time together and had fun baking cake
  4. Instead of regular food colouring, try using gel colouring
  5. After whipping up your buttercream, put it and the cake immediately in the fridge for a few minutes. When you take it out to decorate, put it back in the fridge if the colour starts to separate.
  6. If the buttercream is not stiff enough, add some more icing sugar.

From their answers, I knew exactly where I went wrong. My dinosaur cake pan was not smooth and flat like a regular cake pan. So even though I did grease it, I should have considered adding extra ammunition by flouring the base of the tin. Normally, I would mix the cake batter by hand. However, on this occasion, I used a hand mixer. This meant that my cake had a fluffier texture than when I did it by hand. So as it was not as dense as my normal cake, it didn’t need much effort for it to break apart.

how to not decorate a dinosaur cake using buttercream

Secondly, because I had an extremely eager child, who wanted us to start decorating, I didn’t let the dinosaur cake cool down completely like I normally would. I was so distracted that my brain did not process that the cake was not cold even though it felt cool. I realise now that it was probably the heat from the cake that made the colour to separate, giving it the look of decomposition from an acid rain.

 

Why did my little human let me decorate the cake without demanding a slice

From when my little human was little, I quickly learnt to bake a small piece of cake for her separate from the main one. The one time I didn’t do this, she wouldn’t let me be until I gave her a slice and we couldn’t decorate the cake again. I can’t blame her though, who wouldn’t love a slice of freshly baked cake straight out of the oven?

How to NOT decorate a dinosaur cake

Anyhoos, as we were recently gifted some bone china bowls, I decided to put them to the test by putting some cake batter in one of the bowls. As my first time buying something that is bone china, it did the job just as well and could withstand the heat of the oven. The thing I love most about our new bone china bowls is their small size. They make my daughter feel all grown up that she has her own adult type bowls but the small capacity meant I am feeding her just enough food for her size. This was not different with the cake either. I got the perfect size for her that kept her full and satisfied enough for her to allow us to decorate the cake.

how to not decorate a dinosaur cake

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There you have it, how to not decorate a dinosaur cake with key steps to take into consideration when using buttercream. What do you think of my dinosaur cake that looks like it is decomposing from an acid rain? Please leave a comment below

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