How to Make a Braided Beauty Cake

The secret behind this cake? Her dress's bottom is made from cake baked in Pyrex measuring cups, her body is an inverted ice-cream cone, and her head is a cake pop. Don't be intimidated -- it's easier than you think!
Tara Donne

Makes 16 servings

What You'll Need

  • 1-cup and 4-cup heat-resistant glass measuring cups, such as Pyrex
  • 1 box (16.25 oz.) yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cans (16 oz.) vanilla frosting
  • 1 donut hole (optional)
  • 1 lollipop stick
  • 1 plain Stella D'Oro breadstick
  • Red, orange, and lemon-yellow food coloring
  • 1/2 cup light-pink candy melts
  • 1 sugar cone
  • Plastic zip-top bags
  • 2 mini chocolate chips
  • Pastry bag
  • #8 plain round icing tip
  • 2 sticks blue gum (we used Wrigley's Wintermint)
  • 2 sticks green gum (we used Extra Dessert Delights Key Lime Pie)

Make It

1. Grease inside of 4-cup and 1-cup glass measuring cups. (Make sure the cups aren't chipped or cracked to avoid glass shattering during baking.)

2. Prepare cake mix according to package directions, using buttermilk in place of water.

3. Pour 1 cup of batter into the 1-cup measuring glass and 4 cups of batter into the 4-cup measuring glass. Discard excess batter.

4. Place measuring cups on baking sheet and bake until golden, 25 to 30 minutes for smaller cake and 45 to 50 minutes for larger cake. Transfer cakes to a wire rack; let cool 15 minutes. Invert and let cool completely.

5. Use a serrated knife to level off the raised tops of cakes; crumble the trimmed-off tops (which should come to about 1 cup) into a bowl. Stir in 1/3 cup vanilla frosting until blended, and shape into a 2 1/2-in. ball to form the cake's head. Insert lollipop stick into ball, place onto wax paper, and freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Alternatively, use a donut hole as the head.

6. Cut two 2 1/2-in. segments from either end of breadstick for arms; set aside.

7. Set aside 1 tsp. of frosting from opened can and leave untinted. Set aside an additional 1 tsp. of frosting and tint red. Tint the rest of the frosting in that can orange.

8. Place large cake, trimmed side down, on a serving plate. Cover only the top with orange frosting and stack smaller cake, trimmed side down, on top. Freeze assembled cake for 20 minutes to set.

9. Microwave candy melts in small bowl for 1 minute, stirring every 15 seconds. Dip breadstick arms and cake-ball head in melted candy and transfer to a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Refrigerate until set, about 5 minutes.

Tara Donne

10. Carefully trim 2 in. from pointed end of sugar cone with a serrated knife. Attach cone to top of cake with orange frosting. Using an offset spatula, frost entire cake with remaining orange frosting.

11. Insert cake ball's lollipop stick into cone's opening. Cut 1/16 in. off the corner of a plastic zip-top bag and transfer the 1 tsp. of untinted frosting into it. Pipe on two dots for eyes, and insert pointed end of chocolate chips as pupils. Use another zip-top bag to pipe on a small heart-shaped mouth using the 1 tsp. of red frosting.

12. Press coated breadstick arm pieces onto either side of cone torso, using orange frosting to secure.

13. Tint remaining can of icing yellow. Fill pastry bag, fitted with #8 plain round tip, with this frosting.

14. Pipe lines of yellow frosting onto cake ball to serve as bangs. To create the braid design, pipe overlapping "Y" shapes, in which the beginning of the next Y overlaps the tail of the one before it. Start at the base of the head and continue to pipe the braid so it wraps around several times, ending in front. Pipe several lines at end of braid, directly onto serving platter, to form the tail.

15. To make bows, cut a 1 3/4-in. length of blue gum and a 1 1/2-in. length of green gum. Cut a wedge out of each end of the green gum. Place green strip on top of blue strip; pinch centers to form bow shapes. Cut a separate 1/4-in. length of green gum and wrap around the center of the bow; press ends together to secure. Repeat process to form a second bow. Gently press bows into cake near shoulder and at end of braid.

Cake by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, authors of Cake My Day!

Parents' food editor Erica Clark demonstrates three easy ways to decorate birthday cakes.

Originally published in the August 2015 issue of Parents magazine.

Parents Magazine

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