Relive the vintage baking fun! This Owl Cut-Up Cake will remind you of the festive cakes of your youth!
We’re putting our twist on the classic cut-up cake genre. Our Owl Cut-Up Cake is easy to make and doesn’t require any special equipment. More importantly it’s a hoot to make!
Who remembers the Cut Up Cake Party Book? It was published in 1973 and I think every mom in the 70s had a copy! This little book inspired a generation of mothers to make ridiculously cute cakes for every occasion and my mom was no exception. She made many cakes out of this book plus other designs she found in magazines… bunnies, cats, witches, flowers… if there was a holiday, there was a cut-up cake for dessert.
So, when I decided to make a cut-up cake for the blog, I reached out to my friends on Facebook and was surprised by how many of them still have copies of this book. They were really excited about the idea, gleefully sharing memories of the cakes they made and the special occasions they were celebrating . I guess some trends are more endearing than others.
We can thank Baker’s Coconut for this craze. From the bit of research I’ve done, it looks like it all started with this “calendar of new cake making ideas” published in 1956. This gem is from the Hoboken Historical Museum’s Online Collection Database so you can peruse the whole first edition. Isn’t the internet an awesome place?
I just love the way they describe this “whole year of gay new cakes” using vintage words like gala, maypole, and gumdrops. There are 14 cake ideas including a snowman, an eaglet and my fave, a very grandmotherly looking witch. Of course, it was all to sell “fluffy” coconut, but it was easy to look beyond the advertising ploy. The cakes were fun, didn’t use specialty baking pans and they looked approachable for the home baker.
Today, I’m bringing you my humble homage to the cut-up cake genre. An idea this great deserves new life, so I created this adorable Owl Cut-Up Cake design for all my readers, young and old, to enjoy! Like the vintage cakes, you don’t need special equipment, just a square pan and an imagination!
To test out the design, my mom joined in on the fun. It was almost like the old days, except the roles are a bit reversed now. But we’re still a mean green baking machine! I think our owl cut-up cake turned out super cute.
We used our Pumpkin Spice Beer Cake recipe but you can use any sturdy cake to make our friendly owl. To keep things simple, we made this a single cake design opting for cookies for the eyes. We made the leaf cookies from scratch using a butter cookie dough. For the eyes we used Oreos.
I decided to pipe on the buttercream frosting because I’m better at that than spreading it on. It also gave the cake texture. If you don’t have a piping set, use an offset spatula to spread on the frosting then do the Bakers trick by covering the body with shredded coconut. Really, how you decorate him is up to you! He (or she) can be any color and you can use whatever decorations you like. Love to bake? Make the cookies from scratch. Don’t have a leaf cutter? Use a flower cutter or a regular mouth mason jar. Pressed for time? Use store bought cookies for the eyes. There is no right way.
The fun is in making it your own! Here’s how to get started:
You’ll see that the template hangs of the bottom a bit even though I designed it to fit my 8-1/2 inch baking pan. That’s because the cake shrinks when baking. If your square pan is 9 inches, your owl will be slightly taller.
If you have a smaller pan, use this equation to calculate the size to print out your template: (100÷N)÷2=X% reduction in print size with N being the pan size you have. So, if your pan is 8 inches you’d reduce your print size by 6.25. That means printing the template at 93.75%. Super easy to do. Printing that is! For the math, I had to get help from my car mechanic. I’m super creative but math is not my strong suit! I’ll stick to the creative stuff and rely on my friends. (If you’re local, you should totally get your car serviced at J&K and say hi to Jason. Most honest repair shop ever!)
You’ll want to decorate the cake on the platter you plan to serve it on. We went old school and used a cookie sheet turned upside down. It’s covered in crepe paper and cellophane to make it pretty.
Owl Cut Up Cake
- 1 recipe pumpkin spice beer cake
- 6 cups powdered sugar
- 3 sticks salted butter
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Sugar Cookies
- Cocoa cereal
- Colored sugar
- Make one recipe of the pumpkin spice beer cake in an 8-1/2 inch square cake pan.
- While the cake is cooling, bake sugar cookies. You'll need two leaves, but if you don't have a leaf cookie cutter you can use a flower cutter or mason jar with a regular sized mouth.
- Sift the powdered sugar to remove lumps.
- Beat the butter in a mixer until light and fluffy.
- Add the powdered sugar a little at a time, mixing thoroughly between each addition.
- When all the sugar had been added, drizzle the heavy cream into the frosting, while beating it on high speed.
- Drizzle in the vanilla and beat until smooth.
- Cut the cake and position on a large platter or cookie sheet.
- Place buttercream in a bag with a large star tip and pipe entire cake. Alternately, frost cake with an offset spatula.
- Frost cookie leaves and beak and sprinkle with red and yellow sugar.
- Place the cookies on the cake.
- Frost the top of two oreos and place them on top of the leaves.
- Place two M&Ms on top of the oreos.
- Decorate the belly and wings of the owl with cocoa cereal.
- Add licorice legs to the owl. We used a little corn syrup to attach them to the cookie sheet.
- We used a cookie sheet turned upside down as a platter. It's covered in crepe paper and cellophane to make it pretty.
- If you are not piping on the frosting but still want texture, add sweetened coconut to the areas on the owl body that remain white.
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