Okay, admittedly, the title might be giving you ideas about a grand, themed birthday party. It wasn’t.
But it was my sister’s idea to make a Snoopy cake for Dad’s birthday this year, since he likes Peanuts as much as he does. We weren’t sure how we could go about it at first, so it’s a good thing she brought it up as early as she did so we could give it some thought before Dad’s birthday. I finally came up with the idea to make Snoopy’s doghouse out of cake and then have Snoopy himself lying on top, as he’s prone to do. I also tried to think of how to best structure this cake. (Except that things kept on cropping up and my ideas ended up altered.) The results are okay, but if we do this again, I know what changes to make!
I had wanted to avoid fondant as much as possible and I didn’t want to frost the whole cake red. So what better way to make the house red than with red velvet cake? I found a super-simple recipe online and made the mistake of ignoring the directions to put in two ounces of red food colouring. I figured what we had was enough and, boy, was I wrong! So, first change to make next time: make sure we have lots of red food colouring! We ended up with a sort of orange-pink cake.
We baked two 9×9 cakes and one 10×12 cake in relatively thin layers. (The batter looked really thin in the pan, but apparently, red velvet rises a fair bit, so it looked less worrisome coming out of the oven than going in.) I cut the 9×9’s in half and stacked the three of the four pieces on top of each other to form the main portion of the doghouse, icing each layer with cream cheese frosting. The part I’d change about this step next time is to not frost all the way to the edges and to fill the perimeter of the space between the layers with chocolate cake-pop mix (chocolate cake crumbs mixed with a bit of icing). This change, I believe, will keep the cream cheese frosting from squishing out, for one; and the chocolate cake-pop mix would create the look of the black lines between the boards of the doghouse.
Since I didn’t think of that early enough this time, the cream cheese did squish out and made it look quite messy. So I slapped on a bunch more frosting all around the edges and broke out the fondant (yup, even though I hadn’t wanted to). Now, while I’d definitely want to avoid fondant next time I make this cake, I now also know to not use more than a teeny bit of black food colouring at a time! Using our remaining red colouring resulted in a pink fondant, so I tried to darken it with a little brown and obviously too much black. So we got this funny-looking, slightly-purplish brown in the end.
The slanting roof was formed by trimming the fourth half of a 9×9 cake (remembering that three formed the body of the house) into a stretched-out pyramid, then trimming down the 10×12 cake down to size some (I didn’t make any measurements here, sorry), cut the result in half and glued the pieces to the pyramid with frosting. I expected the roof to slide off, but apparently cream cheese frosting makes for excellent glue. We filled the crack between the roof pieces with a red velvet cake-pop mix.
Snoopy himself was also formed with cake-pop mix. We used a reference picture to try to get his proportions right, then fashioned his head, body, legs, feet, and arms separately and tried to squish them together a little bit, even though that in itself would not keep all his pieces together. Finally, we rolled out a pieces of white fondant large enough to cover him like a sheet, then patted it down to fit our cake-pop Snoopy snugly. Leftover fondant from covering the walls of the house was used to form his collar, eyes, nose, ears, and nails. I had to use a knife to pick him up all as one piece, as again, he was made of multiple parts and some of them were actually kind of heavy, and lay him on the roof.
Despite the many imperfections, Dad looked quite pleased with his Snoopy cake. 🙂