DIY: Potted Cactus Cake
I had originally made this Potted Cactus Cake DIY for a Whole Foods online magazine, and had posted the link to the post a year or so ago when the project was posted. However, it looks like the magazine no longer exists (wah wah), so since that means that the DIY for the cake is no longer available, I’ve decided to post it here for those who may be interested. Continue on below for the DIY.
Positioned into a wax-lined terra cotta pot, ribbed and topped with an edible flower, this potted cactus cake will cause plenty of double-takes. Follow along with the tutorial below to find out how to make it!
- 1 chocolate cake mix
- 1 batch buttercream frosting (see below)
- 3 (6-inch) round cake pans
- Green food coloring
- Plastic piping bag + THIS decorative icing tip (optional)
- Parchment paper
- 4″ Terra Cotta pot
- Skewer (or large toothpick)
- Chocolate wafer cookies, processed into fine crumbs
- Optional: Edible flowers
Buttercream Frosting – Ingredients:
- 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4-5 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoons heavy cream
The Cake: Using a recipe of your choice, divide your cake batter into 3 x 6-inch cake pans. Bake the cakes. Allow them to cool completely before working with them.
The Frosting: Using a mixer, beat butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time. Once combined, slowly add in cream and vanilla. Whip until fluffy and smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Add a few drops of green coloring to your frosting. Mix until frosting is a nice green tone (similar to that of a cactus). Add green frosting to a piping bag with a decorative tip – I prefer Wilton tip #352 to achieve the ribbed look of the cactus (THIS set from Sur La Table includes #352 and 2 of my favorite other decorating tips). Once the piping bag filled, twist bag closed and set aside.
Note: If you’re going to use a pot that is larger than 4″ you will need more cake!
Step #1: Line your terra cotta pot with a piece of wax or parchment paper.
Step #2: Next, you’re going to want to cut the cakes so they fit into the pot. Take some rough measurements of your pot so you have an idea of the size you’ll need. First, cut off the rounded top of each cake so that your cakes are flat – place the cut-off cake scraps into a bowl and set aside. Stack the flat cakes on top of each other and use a serrated knife to carve your cakes to the size of your pot. Place your cakes inside the parchment-lined-pot to test the size. Once you have a perfect fit, remove them from the pot. Place all of the excess cake scraps you may have into one bowl and set aside.
Step #3: Once you’ve cut the cake to size, place your first layer back into the parchment-lined pot, add a layer of frosting, and position your second layer atop. Again, add a layer of frosting and position your third cake layer atop.
Step #4: Mash about 1.5 – 2 cups of cake scraps into crumbs and combine with 1 large spoonful of the buttercream frosting – you want the mixture to be firm and mold-able (like a cake pop). Once combined, shape into a cylindrical cactus shape. [Note: For my 4” pot, I molded my cactus to be about 3.5” high x 2.75” wide]
Step #5: Frost the top of your potted cake with frosting. Position a skewer into the center of your potted cake and slowly skewer your cactus mold into the center, until it is resting level with the top layer of cake. Once in place, sprinkle the chocolate cookie crumbs (the dirt) around the un-frosted cactus. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to set.
Step #6: Using your spatula, spread a light “crumb” layer of the green frosting all over the cactus. [Note: This will be covered up by your piped frosting, so it doesn’t need to look pretty.]
Step #7: To get the appearance of a ribbed cactus, work with your icing tip parallel to the cactus, and apply the frosting to the base in a straight line from the base to the top-center of your cactus. Once you finish one line, make your next line immediately next to it, so that there aren’t any gaps in between the frosted lines. Use a toothpick or a skewer to correct any lines that aren’t straight.
Step #8: If you’re feeling extra fancy, you can add on an edible flower atop the cactus by resting the flower atop the center. And there you have it – a potted cactus cake!