This pool party cake worked out great! I was a little skeptical at first, thinking the jello would seep through the cake, but if you follow the directions on the jello website, it comes out just like it's supposed to.
I used a 9x13 inch cake pan and baked a packaged cake as directed. Then I cut a hole big enough to fill with lots of jello. You do this by cutting a shallow rectangular shape but not pushing your knife to the bottom of the cake. Then just lift out the shape with a fork. You do get sort of unfinished edges so be sure to frost the edges with a tube of frosting. I just used white frosting in a baggie with the corner cut off but I was just trying to get the job done.
Next I mixed the jello and let it set for about an hour. I found that putting the jello in the freezer didn't save much more time than 15 minutes, but at least that, depending on how cold your freezer is. Some of these swimming pool cakes say to make the jello with one cup less water than on the package but you could use the package directions and it comes out perfectly as well. In other words, it's up to you how "strong" and sticky you want the jello to be. For looser jello use the more water, for stronger, firmer jello use the method with less water.
When I poured the jello into the hole in the cake, the jello was about the consistency of egg whites. Any more gelled than that would have made lumpy looking "water" so timing is everything on this. I put it in the fridge for about 10 minutes. When jello starts firming it goes fast. I pulled it out of the fridge to put the mini-teddy grahams inside of lifesaver jellies and then balanced them on the cake in the pool.
I also frosted the cake and made the grass with green frosting which I made by adding neon green food coloring to white frosting. I made the grass "stand up" by using the flat of a knife and pulling out but I'm sure there may be better ways to get a grassy look. It worked at any rate.
Then I planted the palm trees which were just "silk" leaves from the dollar store from a string of flowers I found there, cut into palms and slipped onto a straw. Chocolate caramel balls are the coconuts. I stuck those on toothpicks and bent them at the tips and stuck them in the straws. Worked well! I used gum strips narrowed and trimmed with scissors to make the floatie rafts. Gumballs are the beach balls.
I used mini teddy grahams and the dollar store variety of teddy grahams for the double bear couples. The diving board is gum with a lifesaver jelly under it. Beach towels are gum. All teddies are attached to their floaties and blankets with gum.
All in all, this is an easy and simple project. You can't mess it up too bad if you make sure the cake is cooled before you begin and you get the jello to the correct consistency before you pour it. Just don't rush it and don't be late, blobby jello isn't pretty.
At the party the kids looved the cake. It was a total hit. Of a party of about 20 kids, 1/3 of them wanted just cake, 1/3 of them wanted only jello, and 1/3 of them wanted cake and jello. So nothing wasted here!
I will make this cake again because it was such a hit and so easy to make a clever cake. Now I need to think of what other colors of jello can be used for what special effects in a cake! Gotta think of something!