Easy Cake Decorating Idea - An Elmo Cake

by Chris

Does the high cost of bakery cakes turn you off? Or did the mediocre quality of that store-bought cake you got for your child's last birthday party leave you feeling unworthy as a parent? This year, why not do something totally different for you kid's special day? Make and decorate a cake from scratch!

If you're like me, though, you're not yet qualified to join the team on Cake Boss. For my youngest daughter's latest birthday, I bought a Wilton cake pan with Elmo's face. However, the cake was made from scratch, and decorated successfully. Best of all, it was delicious!


Building a cake from bottom to top requires you to have certain essential tools. Here are the tools I used:

  • Apron (Yes, it will be messy)

  • Mixing bowls

  • Hand mixer

  • Wilton Elmo cake pan

  • Food coloring

  • Knife (long and serrated to level the cake)

  • Wilton pastry bags and tips (I used my mom's decorating set, which is from the 1970's and is no longer available. I'll likely buy the basic Wilton cake decorating set soon.)

  • Silicone spatulas

  • Cooling rack

  • Optional: lazy susan or turntable to help with icing the cake

Planning the Cake

If not using the Elmo pan, plan your cake on paper based on the theme of the party and what you want the finished product to look like. This will not only help you think things through but will give you something to follow as you actually create the cake.

A couple tips I learned:

  • If building a cake shaped like a theme character, they can be frozen (after cooled for a couple hours) and then cut into various shapes with a knife before icing.

  • Before icing a cake, place a cooled cake into the freezer for about ten minutes. This hardens any loose cake pieces on top - important if creating designs and textures

First, take some solid vegetable shortening and wipe it all over the inside of the Elmo cake pan. Grease everything completely. Use a pastry brush to get inside all the indentations. Then, take about 2 tablespoons of flour and sprinkle all over inside the pan. Shake the pan to make an even layer all over it. Turn it upside down to shake out the loose flour.

To bake the cake, I used this chocolate cake recipe. Once you have the batter, pour it evenly into the cake pan. Bake at a preheated 350 degrees on the center rack for about 40 minutes. The cake is done if you stick a knife in the center and it comes out clean.

Remove and cool on a baking rack for about 5 minutes. Before the five minutes is up, and using a bread knife, very carefully slice the raised center area of the cake until it is even. Use a bread knife to carefully pry around all the edges, making sure nothing is stuck. Then, with the plate you will have the cake on, cover it, then flip upside down. Carefully remove the Elmo pan. You should have a nice face. Let it cool for about one hour.

After the hour, (you can make your icing at this time), place the cake in the freezer for five minutes. This will harden the top layer of the cake, to make it easier to spread the icing on. I used this decorator icing recipe to make the icing, adding red food dye to a three quarter portion of it.

Actually, what do you get when you mix red food coloring to white icing? Right, hot pink! What I have since learned is to use red gel paste instead of food coloring, and what you'll get is a dark orange. That's fine. You have to leave it in the fridge for a few days. As it ages, it'll darken in color, to a nice red.

Decorating the Elmo Cake

There's a lot of ideas on making an Elmo cake - I combined them all into my own design. This is what I used:

  • white icing

  • red (urr, pink) icing

  • Two large round chocolate chips (about an inch in diameter, found at our local bulk food store.)

  • Half a bag of chocolate chips

  • A small oatmeal cookie, about two inches in diameter

First, I carefully frosted the eyes and nose with the white icing, using a knife and spatula. Then, I filled in his mouth, using a knife to gently fill in the edges of his smile. The two large round chocolate chips I used for his eyes, and the cookie became his nose. Finally, I filled in his mouth with chocolate chips, making his black mouth.

Then, using the red icing, I frosted all around the sides. Now for the fun part! Using the cake decorator, I added a star-shaped tip. Then, I carefully piped several rows of rosettes all over Elmo's face to simulate fur. Push firmly on the bottom, then lightly to create a smooth, swirling tail ... I mean, fur. Do that all over, filling in the entire cake, and you're done.

Hello Elmo. You're blushing!

Written and painstakingly created by Chris Molnar (okay, actually, it was easy and fun!) Chris held an Elmo party for his youngest daughter in mid April, and the first thing she did (after blowing out her candles) was pick at the chocolate chips. Chris is a work-at-home Dad who has a party site called Themeaparty.com.

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May 03, 2011
Awesome cake, great instructions
by: Anonymous

I LOVE this. I'm kind of a cake-baking weenie but I at least take a stab at B-day cakes for my kids...this recipe is so clear-cut...gonna give it a go.

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