My son loved Finding Nemo, and Bruce The Shark was his favorite. I wanted to make his cake look as much like Bruce as possible and still be edible. I used two store-bought yellow cake mixes and followed instructions for the 8x13 pan on the box. I baked one of the two cakes a bit longer to dry it out a bit, as dry cake will be easier to work with—avoid the “extra moist” cake mixes for this one.
For the base cake (the moister less-cooked one), I used store-bought chocolate frosting. I let my daughter help with the colored decorations on the chocolate frosting. She used store bought pre-colored icing tubes and m&ms and felt good about helping with her brother’s cake. The shark was fairly complicated and fragile, so I did that part myself.
The shark shape: I started by googling “Bruce the shark image” to see lots of pictures and get the right shapes in mind. I printed my favorite images and had them handy in the kitchen while sculpting. Be sure the cake is fully cooled before you start cutting it. Cut with a serrated knife to avoid crumbling. A dry cake won’t taste as good, but it is much less crumbly. I had a whole cake to work with and probably used less than half to make Bruce, so the many oops’s that landed in the scrap heap didn’t cause a shortage (and also tasted just fine to the chef). I used a few toothpicks to hold up the fin, tail and nose. I used corner and edge pieces for these more fragile parts to help give them more stiffness so I could frost them without having them fall apart.
The shark frosting: Using a hand mixer, I made a simple white frosting from confectionery sugar and whole milk. I erred on the side of a thinner frosting because a stiff frosting is harder to spread on a fragile shark. For details around Bruce’s mouth, I used store-bought black decorating gel. To make the blue shade for Bruce’s body, I added a drop of blue food dye to the white frosting. I also added some leftover chocolate frosting from the cake base to get the right grayish shade of blue.
Frosting Bruce was the hardest part. I know fondant will look nicer, but my son won’t eat fondant, and neither will I, so we’ll have to put up with a sloppier looking cake with a few cake crumbs in the frosting. Avoid chocolate cake mixes, as the crumbles are much more noticeable. I dipped my finger in water and used my wet finger to smooth the messy frosting around edges (a tip I learned from this website).