Have you ever made a cut-up cake? This was something we used to do all the time when I was little. The idea is simple – you start with normally shaped cakes (usually squares or circles), and then cut them up, reassemble them, and create fun designs.
The be-all end-all book we used when I was a kid was Baker’s Coconut Animal Cut-Up Cakes, published in the 1950s. Yeah, that long ago. We had a bunch of photocopied pages (because it was out of print even then) and we’d pick something, and then make it. We used candy and frosting to decorate. I’m sure they looked pretty sad, but we had so much fun. That’s where I learned my basic cake decorating skills.
All of that to say that cut up cakes are a great activity to do with kids. This bunny cut-up cake is made with two 9-inch round cakes. You only need one cake mix to make this guy, which makes him super cheap. I made mine super fancy for the picture, but if you click here, you can see tons of different versions – some decorated with candy or coconut, some with frosting, some that look professional, and some that look like the kids definitely helped 🙂
P.S. – If you like this idea, check out my chick cut-up cake. He only uses 1 8″ round and is super cute!
P.P.S. – If you’re interested in more cut-up cakes, Hoboken Historical Museum made Baker’s Coconut Animal Cut-Up Cakes available in PDF form. Click here to download the whole book!
Just a note about the recipe above. I’m a big believer in doctoring cake mixes. I love the gorgeous denseness you get by adding an extra egg, milk, butter, and pudding. If that’s not your thing, this cake can be made perfectly well by just following the directions on a cake mix box, or by using your favorite cake recipe. What’s most important is that you can get two evenly sized 9-inch rounds out of it.
This is your starting set-up. Two round cakes, a copy of the template below, and a board of some sort to put your cake on (mine’s half an old diaper box with foil taped on).
Now you get to do the cutting. I won’t lie, this part scares me every time (What if I mess up!). That’s why I made a template this time. I figured I’d let all the rulers in Illustrator figure out the math for me and then I could bask in the glow of a perfectly proportioned bunny. And of course, I’ll share. Click here for the ear/bow-tie template.
I just laid the template over the second cake, then cut through the paper and the cake along the lines. You can also poke holes in the paper with a toothpick, leaving marks on the cake underneath. When you remove your paper, you’ll have a nice line of toothpick marks showing you where to cut. Either way, this is what you end up with:
Now you can transfer your cakes to your board. Your set-up looks like this:
Now comes my favorite part: decorating. I didn’t have any candy on hand, so I decided to do mine with just frosting. Above, I gave you the recipe for my favorite buttercream frosting, but you can use just about anything depending on the look you’re going for. You could cover this guy in fondant, or go low-key and use some store-bought frosting (I LOVE Duncan Hines Cream cheese flavored frosting!).
I also used the star method of frosting this guy. Basically, I stick a bunch of frosting in a decorators bag, screw on a Wilton 18 tip, and make little stars all over the cake (the detail piping was done with a size 3 for the face, and 12 for the bow tie knot). As I said before, you can use candy to make all the details. M&Ms make great eyes, licorice makes good whiskers and mouths, jelly beans make a great nose, and you can use sprinkles or coconut to make the ears. Feel free to get creative. You can’t be wrong if it makes you happy here!
If you want to decorate yours like mine, I’ve got my process photos below. Basically, I did all the piping and detail work first, then filled in with the stars. It’s not hard at all – but I won’t lie, it’s pretty time consuming. Budget at least an hour for decorating if you try this method.
I used this template to get the eyes the right shape. I am a terrible freehander, so I printed this, cut out the eyes, then laid them on the cake and piped around them. I used a toothpick to get the paper back off the cake after I piped. I did the same for the nose. For the mouth, I cut out the curve from the template, then laid the paper on the cake and piped around the curve. The whiskers were freehanded.
Here’s the face filled in with the star tip. Onward to the ears! Use this template to make the inside of the ears. Just like with the face, print off the template, cut it out, lay it down, pipe around it with the size 3 tip, lift the paper off with a toothpick, and fill with stars.
Sorry for the small picture, but it got super pixelated when I tried to blow it up…
The last part is the bow tie, and here’s a close up so you can see how that was done:
I used the Wilton tip 12 to pipe the circle “knot” in the center (A successful freehand!) and then filled in with the star tip. Here’s the finished product!
He’s so cute! I’d forgotten about cut-up cakes until just recently, but now I’m ready to make some more!