This homemade Circus Carousel birthday cake was a combination layer cake.
I used three 9" layers, covered in fondant, with animal-shaped sugar cookies and a paper carousel top.
The three cake layers were made using two cake mixes, one chocolate and one vanilla, with enough batter to spare to make twelve cupcakes as well. Once cool, I used a long bread knife to level the cakes. I then frosted them with thick buttercream frosting in between the layers and then, less generously, around the entire cake. I bought colored fondant, which is found in party stores and at several online retailers, for the base layer and the stars.
For the animals, I made regular sugar cookies in a variety of animal shapes and frosted them. In addition to homemade Royal icing, I used some purchased tubes of frosting gel for some of the colors, hoping to save time with color mixing and pastry bags. I wasn't very pleased with the gel because, although it was easy to use, it didn't dry. I made the cookies a week in advance and wanted to freeze them, but couldn't because they were still sticky, therefore unable to be stacked or covered with plastic wrap. I decorated the animals incluing a blanket for the seat.
Each cookie was glued to a regular plastic drinking straw with Royal icing. I used the kind that has the accordion part toward one end and bent them at a 45 degree angle to hold up the top.
The top was a 9" disc, edged with scrapbooking scissors, sliced through the radius and taped together to form a slight cone. I added streamers to create the 'big top' and little flags with the birthday girls' names on them, attached to toothpicks.
This took a lot of work and detail but the looks on the faces of thirteen young girls were well worth it!