My daughter requested a horse cake for her birthday but could not decide between a 2D and 3D version. After much debate and the only requirement she gave is that it must be black horses this is what I have come up with. Let me start by saying that there are a total of 4 layers to this Horse and Pony Birthday Cake.
There are 2 sheet cakes and 2 smaller layers made in a loaf pan. You can use any flavor batter for this cake. I chose to use Strawberry and Yellow Cake. I used store bought cream cheese frosting and strawberry glaze for between the layers. The outside of the cake is decorated using pretzel sticks and homemade buttercream icing in various shades. *Remember, when working with buttercream you must work with it quickly as the heat from your hand will make it more difficult to use. If it becomes too soft pop it back in the fridge for 5 or 10 minutes*
Prepare your batter as directed by your favorite recipe. Allow your layers to cool completely before applying frosting.
While you are waiting for your layers to bake and cool, go ahead a mix up your buttercream. I used the following recipe:
3 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 stick margarine, softened
½ cup of solid shortening
1 tsp vanilla extract
Mix all ingredients together thoroughly. At this stage the icing is thick enough to pipe your flowers to be used later. I used tips #16, #106 & #199 to make various flowers piped on a sheet of parchment paper and placed in the refrigerator to set. Play with your tips to find the designs you like best. I used my buttercream to “glue” my pretzel sticks into the shape of a fence. Allow these to set with your piped flowers in the refrigerator before using.
For medium consistency add 1 tsp to 1 ½ tsp water and mix well. You want your icing to spread easily without pulling your cake layers. This is what you will use to frost the cake with your foundation layer and also to pipe your fence, border, and leaves. I used tips # 352 for leaves, #48 for the fence and #18 for the border and edge work.
For thin consistency add 2 tsp to 2 ½ tsp water and mix well. This can be used as a crumb coat if needed. * A crumb coat applied before the actual icing will help prevent pesky bits of crumbs from getting pulled to the surface of your creation * When applying the crumb coat do not worry about perfection. You will never see this layer. Just make sure it is completely dry before adding the next layer of icing.
Assembling the cake:
Start with your 2 sheet cake layers. Add a layer of cream cheese frosting between these two layers. If you have already applied your crumb coating and it is completely dry, go ahead and ice the top and sides of your sheet cake with your color choice, be sure to use the medium consistency icing. Use the back of a butter knife to help get the top smooth and even.
Place the 1st of the loaf pan layers, completely cooled, on a cookie sheet. Carefully use a small knife to cut out a place in the center that is about 2 inches deep and 1 inch from the edge on all sides. Use a small spoon to scoop out the cake and level it out as best you can. Pipe a layer of cream cheese frosting using tip #48 and also pipe a line along the top inside to help glue the final layer in place. You want to make sure to seal all spaces to prevent the glaze from seeping into the layer and making it mushy.
Cover the frosting with just enough glaze to fill the area remaining. Place the glaze filled loaf layer centered on the top of your sheet cake layers. Get it as close to the edge as possible without having an overhang. Take your 2nd loaf layer and lay it on top of the glaze filled making sure all sides line up as evenly as possible.
Tip: If your smaller layers look like they want to lean (mine did) use 3 drinking straws cut to just below the top most cake layer and insert in the two corners and center of the small layers on the side that sits in the middle of the sheet cake. Make sure the straws can reach all the way to the bottom of your cake board to get the maximum amount of reinforcement that you can. Try not to hit the glaze layer or you may have a mess.
Now ice the final layers with your base color choice (medium consistency). Place the pretzel railings around the sides of the top two layers pushing gently down into the sheet cake.
*It is at this point that I placed the cake in my refrigerator to set over night. You don’t have to wait that long just be sure the icing is set before you continue*
From here on out the skies the limit. Use your tips and pre-piped flowers to complete the design anyway you like. You can go by my design or create your own. Have fun with it.