Ethan’s Farm Cake


Cake Design / Sunday, November 2nd, 2008

A few weeks ago, a friend e-mailed me about making a cake for her son’s second birthday. She was planning a party with a farm theme, so we decided on a cake with a barn and some of Ethan’s favorite farm animals: a horse, cows and pigs. She also wanted a fence running around the cake.

No problem.

Not that I’d ever sculpted farm animals.

But when you’re excited about a project, it pays to say yes now and figure out how later.

First, I looked up barn and farm cakes on the magical Internet to see what other people had done and study their designs, color choices and styles. Then it was time for a little toy store research to see what’s hip with the 2-year-old set these days. My two major inspirations for the look of the animals were Kylie Lambert‘s signature cows and the Fisher Price® Little People® Farm Animals.

Once the animals were finished, I needed a barn, so I carved the basic shape from a batch of Rice Krispies Treats@ and covered it in fondant. Then I attached some fondant-covered graham crackers to the top of the structure to serve as the roof. The barn’s windows and doors were made of leftover black fondant trimmed in white royal icing.

The day before the party, I baked a white butter cake, filled it with vanilla buttercream and frosted it. Then I attached the fence, “Happy Birthday” sign and flowers – all made out of fondant – and added a few buttercream leaves and flower stems.

And when all of this was done, and I thought I was ready to call it a night, this thought popped into my head: wouldn’t it be fun if it looked like the animals were going to Ethan’s birthday party? So, I picked myself off the couch, tied the apron back on and started making party hats and presents out of gum paste. The presents are filled with miniature marshmallows to give them some structure.

The next morning, Jeff came with me to deliver the cake. He drove while I balanced fondant farm animals for 90 torturous minutes – up the interstate, around many winding roads and next to semis that were OMIGOD WAY TOO CLOSE to the cake. But we made it with the cake and our marriage intact. On the way back to the car, Jeff gave me a hug, a kiss and a fist bump. And I was smiling from ear to ear.

If an exciting opportunity comes your way, say yes now, and figure out how later. You’ll force yourself to do things you never imagined. Like figuring out how to make marshmallow presents for fondant chickens at 11 p.m. I never saw that one coming, but I’m glad it did. Thanks, Joni!

38 thoughts on “Ethan’s Farm Cake

  1. So cool!! Brings back fond memories of the farm “little people” Daniel loved so much… And the presents were an ingenious insight!!! Thank you for not making “cow pies”!!! ;)

  2. That is so beautiful! Obviously a labor of love.
    I’m curious how much of it the little one was willing to eat… did he like the fondant? I find that most adults just pick it off, so I’m reluctant to use it, but maybe kids don’t mind the sweet so much.

  3. Hey, everyone! Thanks for checking out the cake. It definitely was a labor of love.

    Tracey – The kids at the party had their own piglet cupcakes. The cake was mainly for the adults. I agree, most people pick off fondant, so I cover cakes in buttercream and use the fondant only for decorations when I can get away with it.

  4. Un-freaking-believable! Who knew you had such hidden talents?! That is just so cute I can’t stand it.

    I’ve come close to killing my husband a few time while driving cakes to a party.But we’re still together so true love conquers cake!!

  5. Oh my gosh. I am speechless. Completely speechless (okay, not really). I can’t believe the sorry, pitiful birthday cakes I’ve been serving my poor children. That cake is AMAZING. My one year old is just learning how to moo and quack, and she would go nuts mooing and quacking over this cake. I knew that you were talented, but this one really puts you in a whole ‘nother universe from the rest of us mortals.

    Unbelieveable.

  6. Geez, girlfriend you’re impressive! That was impressive. I’m a scaredy cat baker. Whenever I get a “Hey, Ingrid could you…?”, I cringe! You are right in your “just go for it” attitude though also a little crazy! LOL!
    ~ingrid

  7. Very well done so creative. I bet your friend love love loved it so much. I like that the animals were going to the party too. What a great hubby you have too!

  8. That is the sweetest cake. The children had to be thrilled. Even the roof has little marks to make texture. Great job!

  9. You go girl! That is simply awesome and I can imagine that it will be legendary to that child. When he is 40, he will say to his mom “remember that cake I had with the farm animals with party hats?”

  10. I love your cake! It is fantastic and I especially love that you took on the project without really knowing how you would pull it off. I had a similar experience making a friend’s wedding cake. They are not traditional people so the cake had to be a bit creative. I learned how to work with gum paste for this cake and made little pixies and imps causing all kinds of mischief like setting the cake on fire. It was really fun, but what a lot of work! Here’s a picture http://www.flickr.com/photos/mr_peterman/2328003114/
    After that cake experience, I really admire and appreciate this fantastic birthday cake you made.

  11. I am a first timer to the website – it’s great. How do you search for a recipe? I would like to find the recipe for the pecan cupcakes show on the photo flickr.

  12. Hey Bec, My b’day is July 8th! After the catfish and now the barnyard, there is no end to what you could think-up by then. Oh, yes remember Mom’s BIG Day next year-that will call for a very special cake!

  13. Rebecca,

    I am a little late (as usual) with my comment. I just had to say THANK YOU one more time. There are no words to explain how thankful I am for Ethan’s cake. In the eyes of some, I’m sure it’s just a cake, but birthdays are so important and I really stress to make them incredibly special. Now that my oldest is 13 and isn’t so excited about the parties I realize that you only have a few (very fast) years to enjoy their childhood and the things that make them fun! My joy is planning for months and then bringing it all together. This year, all the smiling little faces on the hay ride really made it all worth it. So, your amazing cake contributed to that. I wanted to cry when I saw the cake and the incredible amount of thought and care that went into it. I think I said to you “it’s better than I could have ever imagined.” I really meant that. It was so beautiful I didn’t want to cut it. It tasted amazing to top it off. We had so many comments including one who told me “it was wedding cake quality.” My only problem is that I will never be able to top this cake in future years! It was also very appropriate that Ethan got the Little People farm for his birthday. My mom actually thought you had put the little people animals on the cake!!!! AMAZING! That just demonstrates that nothing competes with talent and love for your job. I hope you accept the challenge next year! I’m already thinking!

  14. OMG i want one for my baby’s birthday!!!!!
    but unfortunately i do not bake…
    really, really, really cute! i like that your animals are roundish looking.
    i just wish i have your talent!!!
    maybe i’ll do the little people instead…
    any ideas to create a barnyard theme cake for a baking-impaired person???? just wondering…

  15. Your cake is precious! I am going to try to do one and wonder if you would mind sharing what you made the farm animals out of. The picture looks like marshmallows to me, but that is not mentioned so I wonder if you made them out of fondant instead.

  16. I have a request to make this cake. I have sculpted a camping scene with people, tent etc. before. What state are you in and what did you charge for this if you don't mind my asking?

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