Even for a cake novice, this cute holiday penguin is not as difficult as it looks. In fact, it's the perfect project to wow your fam and explore basic sculpting and piping skills. All it takes is a little bit of pract-ice. (Ice... because it's a penguin. Get it?)
DIY Penguin Cake
What You Need
- Four 6-inch round cakes, chilled
- Two 16-ounce cans of dark chocolate frosting
- Two cake ice cream cones
- White fondant
- Heart cookie cutter
- Circle cookie cutter
- Green food coloring
- 1 tablespoon vodka
- Black food coloring
- Circus peanut candy
- Chocolate wafer
- Candy pearl
- Piping bag
- Round piping tip
- Pastry brush or food-safe paint brush
- Two straws
- Rolling pin
Let's Make a Penguin!
1. Stack Your Cakes
Grab three of your four 6-inch round cakes and stack them one on top of the other, spreading the dark chocolate frosting between each layer to hold the stack together.
Cut your fourth cake in half and use more frosting to sandwich the halves together. Place the flat end of the cakes on top of the three stacked ones (again, using frosting to secure the pieces together), and stick a straw down the center of each side to hold the top cakes in place.
Once the straws are inserted, freeze the cake for 30 minutes to secure it together (we don’t want it toppling over on you as you decorate)!
2. Start Sculpting
Penguins are plump, but they're definitely not perfect cylinders. So once the cakes are securely in place, it's time to sculpt your penguin into a more realistic shape. Start by cutting away two corners from the top vertical piece to form the head. Then round out the body by trimming the stack around the top and bottom.
Once your cake is shaped, cover all of it with dark chocolate frosting. Chill in the refrigerator for one hour.
3. Paint it Black
In a small bowl, mix together a tablespoon of vodka and a few drops of black food coloring. Use a pastry brush to cover the cake in a smooth black color.
4. Place the Fondant
Roll out the white fondant until it’s about ⅛-inch thick. Cut out a piece with a heart-shaped cookie cutter and place it onto the head area. This will be the penguin’s face.
Then, cut out a large fondant circle and trim off about a third. Stick this piece underneath the heart on the penguin’s body, trimmed side facing up. The rounded side should be touching the very bottom of the cake, leaving plenty of room for the future sweater.
5. Make the Ice Cream Cone Arms
Take two cake ice cream cones. Start at the point where the cone gets wider and cut at an angle to the rim.
Then, cut the bases off the cones. Remove any pieces that remain inside the cone — they should be nice and hollow.
Press the angled edges of the cones into either side of the cake to make the penguin’s arms. Secure them to the cake by piping black frosting around the edges.
6. Pipe a Sweater
Spoon green buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a small round tip. Starting at the top edge of the white fondant tummy, pipe the hem of the sweater by moving your tip up and down in tight zig-zags. Go all the way around the cake until the green edges meet. Then, pipe a green hem around the ends of the ice cream cone sleeves.
Spoon some white buttercream into the green for a slightly lighter hue, fill a fresh piping bag, and keep piping around and around your cake to make the sweater. As you pipe, move your tip in little loops to create the knit sweater look.
Cover the ice cream cones with little spirals and loops as well. Then finish the top off with another darker green edging design, just as you did the hem.
Once you’re done piping his sweater, give him a little hat to match. (So jaunty!)
7. Give Him Happy Feet
Grab three pieces of circus peanut candy. Using scissors, cut out two pieces to make webbed feet, and one piece to make a beak.
Secure these into place with little dabs of buttercream.
8. Add the Little Details
Pipe small amounts of buttercream above his beak and stick on two brown M&M eyes. Then place a candy pearl in the center of his hat as a pom pom.
Break a circle chocolate wafer in half and place one half inside each cone, so now his flippers are sticking out of his sleeves. You can wedge these into the cones if they stay put, or secure them with buttercream if needed.
9. Glam Him Up
It’s #UglySweaterSeason, and this penguin is READY. Use a piping bag fitted with a small round tip to pipe a squiggly line of black buttercream along the front of his sweater.
Place dabs of buttercream along the line and stick on some colorful M&M "lights."
And now for the hard part: Cutting into a cake this cute.
Love the penguin? Take your cake sculpting skills one step further with this dog cake (we promise you'll be drooling over it). With enough practice, you'll be sculpting insanely detailed cakes in no time!