birthday party, cakes

Cake-ing Out Of My Comfort Zone

The Grand Budapest Hotel - 64th Berlin Film Festival

While I love making colorful kids cakes, it’s definitely not something I do often as a part-time, strictly-for-pleasure baker. But when Molly Guy of Stone Fox Bride reached out to me for her daughter’s third birthday cake, despite the full weekend of orders I already had, the request was just too amazing to pass up. The adorable request, straight from the wonderful imagination of her toddler, was for a “princess mermaid dinosaur cake.” And it didn’t stop there – the requested colors were pink and purple, and I was asked to incorporate flowers and glitter or sprinkles, if I could. Even though Molly gave me free reign and told me to “go wild,” it was definitely a challenge for me to combine all three themes in a slightly cohesive way and to use a bright pink and purple (that was probably the biggest obstacle…not my go-to colors). But, I loved the challenge and learned some new tricks while making it. Here’s a look at the craziness that resulted and some words about how I was able to take a little trip out of my comfort zone.


I started by sketching out the cake…I questioned if I should make some crazy thing that combines all the three (i.e. a dinosaur with a mermaid tail wearing a crown?)…but thought that was too ridiculous and quite frankly, that it might totally freak out a three year old! I made the decision to have each theme represented on its own, and would do two different cakes to fulfill all the decor requests. Once I had my sketch, I got to work on my dinosaurs first. I knew the darker blues and greens of the figurines would be an eyesore next to the bright pink and purple, so I gave them a little paint job. The brachiosaurus got painted a light pink with bright pink polka dots, while the triceratops color actually wasn’t too bad so I just added a splash of purple paint to his horns and toenails (ha!).

Dinosaur Cake

Taking cues from the triceratops’ blue-green coloring and the color I was planning to use for the mermaid’s tail, I decided to designate teal as my main accent color. For those of you who may be working with a cake in a color scheme you’re not too familiar with, my biggest piece of advice would be to pick one accent color you do like that works well with the other colors – this made things much easier for me. I covered the smaller cake in buttercream roses which incorporated my palette in solid-colored and combination-colored buttercream. My buttercream roses weren’t perfect, which brings up another piece of advice – when you’re making a colorful cake with piped roses that aren’t evenly positioned on your cake, you’re probably the only one that notices the little imperfections…unless of course you’re calling them out and sharing a closeup photo of them, as I’m doing right now.

Frosting Details

The main cake was a tall layered cake, with alternating layers of chocolate and vanilla cake, each stacked in between a light pink vanilla buttercream. I covered the outside of the cake in a few super smooth layers of dark pink and purple buttercream (added on in different spots around the cake before I smoothed it, to give it a slightly swirled look). I added teal, purple, and pink sanding sugar to the bottom of the cake and lined the top ring with some piped buttercream details. The cake was topped with the triceratops (who wore a crown), as well as a mermaid and a shiny “3” princess crown which I sculpted out of a fondant / modeling chocolate mixture.

Mermaid Cake DetailPrincessMermaidDinosaur1-2

And there you have it – a princess mermaid dinosaur, pink and purple cake, with flowers and glitter…all boxes checked!


[Lead Photo: Wes Anderson – “The Grand Budapest Hotel”]

  1. Andy Jones

    May 8, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    Loved that story & the process that followed to grant her wish! Definitely “made to order”!

  2. Caitlyn

    May 8, 2015 at 10:49 pm

    What a fun, creative challenge! What was the reaction to your successful execution?

  3. Jess

    October 3, 2016 at 3:06 pm

    I’ve been getting lost on your blog for hours now, so many new ideas I want to try! I love how these roses turned out, could you share what piping tip you used? And did you pipe directly onto the cake? Thanks!

    1. alanajonesmann

      October 4, 2016 at 12:33 pm

      I love hearing that! For the cake I used a bunch of different tips – a lot of rose and leaf tips. And yes, I piped directly onto the cake! 🙂

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