My kids’ birthdays are just 12 days apart, so when we have a birthday party, it’s always a joint party, and I usually try to incorporate favorite cakes for both kids into the party cake. Last year, I created an owl sitting on a log. The log is a traditional Buche de Noel (chocolate for my daughter). The owl on top is my son’s favorite spice cake.

I baked the spice cake in four layers—three graduated rounds and a heart shape for the bottom. For the body, I stacked the heart on the bottom, and two rounds on top. I cut the third round to create the tail. Bamboo skewers driven straight down through the head to the tray anchor everything together. Dried pineapple rings made perfect facial disks, with raisin eyes in the center.

I used an almond for a beak, and slivered almonds for breast feathers. To create the variegated feathers, I striped the inside of my decorating tube with brown food coloring. Meringue mushrooms and some icing greenery top off the tableau.

This was great fun to make, and everyone loved being able to sample two different cakes and top it all with a meringue mushroom.