The kid turned one last month. He was born in the Year of the Dragon, so I decided to make him a dragon birthday cake.
I don’t know what came over me. I don’t usually make cakes that look like anything but, well, normal cake. But it was the kid’s birthday, so I wanted to do something special, even if he’s only one year old and has no idea.
I was inspired by a friend who made the Hungry Caterpillar for her own son’s first birthday. She made it out of bundt cakes and cupcakes. I figured, how difficult could a dragon be? They’re basically snakes, with legs. So I decided to make basically the same cake, with modifications (different head, spikes, etc). I didn’t want to do too much work with shaping or cutting cake, so I figured I could make my decorative items out of chocolate or (K’s idea) mold them out of Rice Krispies treats.
Since it was my first time decorating a cake, I called up my sister, who knows quite a bit about decorating baked goods, and asked for her advice. She told me about melting and cooling chocolate, and how I could either pipe melted chocolate into my desired shapes, or how I could cool chocolate into a sheet and then cut the shapes I wanted. I piped wiggly lines for whiskers, drew dark chocolate eyes onto a cooled white chocolate base, and cut chocolate spikes from a cooled sheet of dark chocolate.
I made two cake recipes, a sturdy yellow cake and a moist chocolate cake. I also made one-and-a-half batches of Swiss buttercream (and would have made more, except I ran out of eggs). I poured half of each cake batter into the bundt cake mold, and I made the rest into cupcakes. I baked them and let them cool overnight, then assembled and frosted them on the morning of the party.
I added food coloring gel to buttercream frosting and made quite a lot of green frosting, as well as yellow and red for accents. I made the dragon’s head out of three cupcakes and a bit of Rice Krispies treat, and used Rice Krispies for the limbs as well. While frosting, I discovered that 1.5 batches of buttercream went really fast. Next time I’ll make more; it’s better to have too much frosting than not enough.
Hilariously, the worst part of the whole experience were the Rice Krispies treats. When I tried to make them, the melted marshmallow kept hardening rapidly, freezing into a solid ball instead of mixing with the treats. I tried to mash it together with sheer force but ended up with a thin, shattering mess of crushed Rice Krispies. I keep seeing commercials where kids are supposed to be able to make these. I don’t understand how it’s supposed to work. It’s store-bought for me from now on.
Anyway, I eventually ended up sending K out to get emergency Rice Krispies treats and a couple of tubs of store-bought frosting (I ran out of frosting and didn’t want to serve naked cupcakes).
Fortunately the dragon turned out pretty well.
After all that fuss, the kid freaked out when presented with cake and refused to touch it. I think he was a little weirded out by all the people staring at him. Later, in private, he accepted a few bites. Hopefully he’ll enjoy cake more in the future.