This lion cake from Martha Stewart Baby, Fall 2001, is a fun and regal addition to any kids' party.
- Butter, for pans
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for pans
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 1 1/2 cups hot water
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Caramel Buttercream
- Food coloring, preferably brown, orange, peach, copper, and egg yellow
- 1 licorice shoelace, cut into 6 equal lengths
Preheat oven to 350 degrees with racks in center. Butter two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans and one cup in a jumbo muffin tin; line bottoms of pans with parchment; butter parchment. Dust pans and muffin tin with cocoa; set aside.
Sift cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into mixer bowl. On low, stir in eggs, buttermilk, hot water, oil, and vanilla; beat until smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping bowl as necessary.
Fill prepared muffin tin 3/4 full, using 3/4 cup batter. Divide remaining batter between two pans. Bake, rotating once, until tester inserted in center comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes (25 minutes for cupcakes). Let cool on rack 20 minutes; unmold and cool completely on rack, right sides up.
With serrated knife, trim cake layers level. Place one on a cake round, trimmed side up, then place on a turntable. With offset spatula, smooth 3/4 cup caramel buttercream over top. Top with remaining 8-inch layer, trimmed side down. Thinly coat top and sides of cake with 1 cup buttercream. Refrigerate until frosting has set, about 20 minutes.
Apply a smooth layer of buttercream to the cake. Slice top third of cupcake off, discarding the bottom; place the top on the cake, slightly off center. Coat cupcake top with buttercream, using offset spatula to create a smooth mound. This will become the snout of the lion.
Place cake so the snout is closest to you. With a toothpick, sketch the lion's face. Refrigerate the cake.
Fit five 12-inch pastry bags with couplers and Ateco tips. We used star tips such as No. 16, No. 22, No. 30, and No. 35 for the mane, and a small round tip such as No. 3 for the face. Divide remaining buttercream into 5 batches. Tint one dark brown, and place in bag with No. 3 tip. Tint the others four shades of orange; place in other four bags.
Pipe outline of face on cake with brown buttercream. Pipe swirls of orange buttercream for mane. Stick licorice whiskers into cake; refrigerate until serving.