dinosaur

Dinosaur Cupcake Cake Tutorial

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I offered to make a dinosaur cupcake cake for the daughter of one of my friends back in May, and decided it was the perfect opportunity to do my first baking post on my blog. My friend wanted both chocolate and vanilla cupcakes incorporated, and I also ended up using both vanilla and chocolate frostings in the design. I will be including the recipes for both cakes and frostings, but will give each recipe it’s own post. Otherwise this would be the longest blog post in the history of blog posts.

Click here for my vanilla cake recipe. Click here for my chocolate cake recipe.

**The other recipes are still on my to-do list. I wanted to get this post published, because it’s been sitting in my ‘drafts’ folder for weeks and I’m sick of sitting on it. Check back for the chocolate and vanilla buttercream recipes later.**

You will need a total of 20 cupcakes to make the dinosaur, a lot of chocolate frosting, a very small amount of black frosting, and an even smaller amount of white frosting. As you can see from the picture, I added “grass” cupcakes around the dinosaur. In retrospect, I wish that I would have used mini-cupcakes for the grass because, as you can see from the picture, there are empty spots where I couldn’t fit a regular sized cupcake. Or you could always pipe the grass directly onto the cake board, which would really be the only way that you could be sure to fill in every nook and cranny. Let me just state here and now that I am by no means a professional cake decorator, nor do I aspire to be. I’ve never even taken a decorating class. This is my hobby. I’m completely self taught, and therefore make a lot of mistakes because I’m making this up as I go along. But I learn from my mistakes, and get better with each cake I do.

Once you have your cupcakes baked and cooled and your frostings tinted and ready to go, lay out your cake board. I used an 11 x 14 size, but wished I had gone one size up because it was a little difficult to get all of the necessary cupcakes to fit on the board. Live and learn.

A quick tip–when you’re not using your frosting, keep the bowl covered with a damp paper towel so it doesn’t dry out. Be sure that the paper towel is not dripping though, because the extra water will ruin the consistency of the frosting.

The first step is to lay out the cupcakes in the desired shape (in this case, a dinosaur). I based my dinosaur shape off of this pin that I found on Pinterest. I went with a T-Rex because if you’re doing a dinosaur cake, you should pick the most badass dino out there. Plus, the shape is easy to translate into cupcakes.

Can you see the T-Rex?

Can you see the T-Rex?

Once you’re happy with the shape, SECURE THE CUPCAKES TO THE BOARD. This is a very important step. It would be a crying shame to do all this work just to have the cupcakes fall off the board during transit. Frosting is a cake decorator’s glue. Just put a dab on the bottom of each cupcake and place back on the board. Once that frosting hardens, those babies aren’t going anywhere.

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After all the cupcakes have been secured, the fun part begins. The trick to cupcake cakes is making the cupcakes appear to be one surface from the top. To do this, you have to carry your piping from one cupcake to the next. I went with a swirl design because quite frankly, it’s just the easiest to accomplish this seamless look. I chose to go with the Wilton tip #18, which looks like this:

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Oops–skipped a step. If you do not know how to properly insert a coupler into your icing bag, you unscrew the ring and push the coupler as far down the icing bag as you can.

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Then you’ll want to trim the bag where the bottom most groove hits (notated by the black arrow). After the bag is trimmed, gently push the coupler down until it fits snugly at the bottom, put the icing tip on, and secure it with the coupler ring.

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Fold the icing bag down halfway, and fill it with your chocolate icing, being careful not to allow too many air bubbles in. Don’t fill the bag more than halfway because if it’s too full, it will spill out of the top while you’re piping and make a big mess. Do your best to burp out any air bubbles, and twist the top shut tight.

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I decided to make my dinosaur brown instead of green like the picture of my inspiration cake, because I’ve seen Jurassic Park a million times and know that T-Rexs are brown. Plus I hate coloring frosting, and avoid it at all costs. Plus chocolate frosting is amazing.

To do the swirl design, start on a cupcake on the edge (ex: the one that will have the dino’s eye or mouth). Pipe a dot in the center of the cupcake and let it rise, and without releasing pressure, begin to swirl the frosting around that initial dot. Continue to swirl around until you reach the outer rim of the cupcake. You have to be aware ahead of time of which cupcake you are going to next so that you can continue the line from one cupcake to the next.

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As you can see from the picture, the next cupcake’s swirl will start from the outside and work in. Don’t try to connect this cupcake to another cupcake, because you’ll mess up the swirl design. You can only connect two cupcakes to each other. Then you have to fill in the gaps afterwards.

There was a section that got away from me while I was trying to fill in some of these gaps.

Ugly piping

Ugly piping

I took my flat icing spatula and carefully removed the offending sections.

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Then I tried again. I did straight lines from one cupcake to the next to fill in the gap, and made new swirls along the edges of the ones that needed it, doing my best to tuck the ends of the swirls in.

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The frosting “bridges” over the bigger gaps ended up collapsing on me, so I finally wised up and piped frosting down into the gap, filling it from the cake board all the way up, and adding swirls on top of it to make it look like it all flowed together. Of course, I did this fix literally minutes before we left, so I didn’t get a picture of it. But trust me, it looked a lot better. Learn from my mistake, and fill the holes up with frosting. It’s messy when you’re serving those sections but it looks so much better as a cohesive piece.

The Dinosaur after finishing the chocolate frosting layer

The Dinosaur after finishing the chocolate frosting layer

Now it’s time to add the details so that other people can tell that it’s a dinosaur. The detailing for this was actually pretty easy: one eye (since this is meant to be a profile shot), a mouth, claws on the foot and hand, and spine detailing.

I used the #7 Wilton tip for the eye.

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I then piped the outline of the eye, and filled it in. Easy peasy.

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For all of the black frosting details (the pupil of the eye, the outline of the mouth, the claws, and the spine detailing) I used a #3 Wilton tip.

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Tinting homemade frosting to black has proven to be very challenging for me in the past. I’ve only ever tried Wilton’s black icing tint, and honestly I don’t like Wilton’s icing tints. The colors don’t always turn out the way I hoped and they almost always give a funky taste to the frosting. I’ve used AmeriColor before, and I much prefer that brand. But I have to order it online because I can’t find it in any stores where I live. I didn’t have time to order any before this party, so I made life easy on myself and picked up a pre-made black icing from the grocery store and used that. I tried sticking the container itself directly in the piping bag, but it was too hard to squeeze. So I just squeezed it from the container into my bag. It tasted much better than the Wilton stuff and the color was a perfect black, unlike the purple-ish black you get with Wilton.

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For the mouth I piped a large V on one of the cupcakes, and then piped some short, straight lines in white (also using #3 Wilton tip) for the teeth. Easy.

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The claws were just triangles that I piped and then filled in. Easy.

Hand claws

Hand claws

Foot claws

Foot claws

I did all of the decorating work for this cake the morning of the party, so I was really pressed for time (we ended up being half an hour late to the party). In the moment, it seemed best (and by best I mean easiest) to just continue using the same tiny icing tip to pipe the spine detail rather than take the 30 seconds to switch it out for one with a larger opening. In truth, I’m not entirely happy with how this part turned out. It would have looked much better if the lines were bigger. Live and learn. I just piped a zig-zag going from one end to the other over and over again until it was completely filled in.

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And voila! Your dino is done.

On to the grass cupcakes. Like I mentioned earlier, I hate coloring frosting. It’s hard to get the color just right, and for whatever reason, it tends to separate on me (meaning that the frosting has white streaks through the color). Food coloring never streaks on me, and never gives my frosting a funky taste. But it’s tricky using it with frosting because of it’s liquid form; it will quickly make your frosting runny. So even though I knew I would get a better grass color using proper frosting tint, I chose taste over color and went with food coloring. So my grass was far from the perfect green, but it was still green and it tasted good. To pipe these I used the Wilton grass tip #233.

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The face of the cupcake shows through the grass piping, so you have to ice a thin layer with an icing spatula before you start piping.

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Starting from the outside, I piped little “tuffs” of grass in a circle around the cupcake, working my way in. Start your tip right on the cupcake and quickly pull up, releasing pressure fairly quickly. I never worry about every tuff looking exactly the same because it’s supposed to be grass for goodness sake. Don’t over think it.

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Once all of your grass is done, secure those cupcakes on the board, doing your best to fill it in.

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And just like that, you have an awesome dinosaur cupcake cake! And honestly–it’s not that hard. But it is sure to impress your guests! Mine was a hit at the party : )

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I know what you’re wondering: how did I manage to get all of this done with the kids? Answer: let them terrorize the house while I plugged away working.

Baby Ary sitting in my cookie cutter drawer.

Baby Ary sitting in my cookie cutter drawer.

You’ve gotta pick and chose your battles, folks.

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My Eggo is Prego: 16 Weeks

16 Weeks

16 Weeks

 

This week started off with a birthday party for one of Eowyn’s friends from dance class. We’ve become friends with the family, so the girls know each other from more than just dance. Cake decorating is a hobby of mine, so I offered to make the cake to help take some of the load off from the mom because I know first hand how much work goes into these kid parties. It was a dinosaur themed party, so I put together a dinosaur cupcake cake:

Dinosaur Cupcake Cake

Dinosaur Cupcake Cake

 

I photographed the whole process, so I’m planning on putting together a tutorial post on how I made it soon. Not gonna lie–I’m pretty proud of how this one turned out.

The party was fun, but Eowyn kind of had a hard time playing with the other kids. They didn’t really seem to want to play with her. The birthday girl and her sister, both of whom Eowyn has had many play dates with, were too busy playing with the other kids to include Eowyn. It was so heart breaking to watch our lovely little girl have such a hard time fitting in with the other kids. The mama bear part of me wanted to step in and tell those kids to include her, put I know that she has to learn how to socialize with her peers on her own. So I bit my lip, and watched the ever so painful process of my little girl learning a hard life lesson: sometimes, making friends isn’t easy. I used to be very shy when I was growing up, always feeling awkward in social situations with new people. Which made it so much worse for me to watch my baby girl go through the same thing. But, she is stronger than I was, for she never stopped trying to play with the other kids. And when they were off somewhere and she couldn’t find them, she didn’t pout for long. She just started playing on her own, or with her sister, or with Tyler and I. Although it was hard to watch her struggle, I was very proud of her for never giving up and finding ways to have fun regardless of how rude the other kids were being towards her.

The rest of my week kind of got consumed by sickness. Tyler and I came down with a nasty stomach bug Wednesday night, which hit us full force on Thursday. I got it worse than him, and spent the entire day in and out of the bathroom. Thankfully the girls did not get it, but that meant trying to take care of two energetic girls while being sick as a dog. Speaking of dogs, we also had to deal with our Aussie-Shepherd freaking out all day because of the never ending thunder storms. It was a very long day. Tyler’s mom risked infecting herself by coming to our rescue half way through the day, bringing medicine, gatorade, and soup with her. We were finally able to rest without the girls jumping on us, and she even stayed long enough to put them to bed and do our dishes for us. Such a God send. By the end of the day, I weighed myself out of curiosity and was shocked to see that I had lost 9 pounds! I didn’t even know it was possible to lose 9 pounds in a day. I think that’s the sickest I’ve ever been in my life. It was only by the grace of God that I was able to get through it.

The sickness only lasted a day, but I woke up on Friday feeling totally drained (I wonder why). I was having heart palpitations and was really light headed, so I went to the ER. I figured I needed IV fluids, but after some tests, they told me that I had done a really good job of drinking water despite being so sick because I wasn’t that dehydrated. I was just exhausted. My body needed rest and more fluids, but no need for the IV stuff. Considering I have a thing about needles, I was happy to go home un-poked. Just to be safe, they did an ultrasound of Baby. Baby was fine; he/she was moving around so much that it was difficult for the doctor to get a read on the heartbeat. The two times that I’ve had an ultrasound, the first thing that both doctors commented on was how much Baby was moving; as if it’s a tad abnormal to see a baby move so much so early. Looks like we’ve got a super active baby on the way… Which is great, because you know, our first two kids are so boring and low energy…

Ary on the cat tree, turning on the fireplace on the day that I was dying.

Ary on the cat tree, turning on the fireplace on the day that I was dying.

 

When "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" came on this evening, Eowyn was up in arms (literally; hence the broomstick), yelling, "Seize Mickey! Seize him! He's a thief! We have to kill him!" Don't ask for an explanation, for I will never have one.

When “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” came on this evening, Eowyn was up in arms (literally; hence the broomstick), yelling, “Seize Mickey! Seize him! He’s a thief! We have to kill him!” Don’t ask for an explanation, for I will never have one.

 

I think New Baby will fit in just fine in this house.

As for me, I’m going to go enjoy the quiet of this Saturday night by reading my devotional, and rest up so that I can (hopefully) have my energy back for Mother’s Day tomorrow.

Oh! Baby Stats; I almost forgot:

-Baby is the size of an avocado; 4 1/2 inches long head to rump, and weighing 3 1/2 ounces

-The legs are much more developed

-The head is much more erect

-The eyes are moving closer to their final position (they start at the side of the head)

-The ears are also close to their final position (they start at the neck)

-The patterning of the scalp has started, although there isn’t any recognizable hair yet

-Toenails have started growing

 

Happy Sunday, everyone! And to all my fellow mamas out there: Happy Mother’s Day!