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DIY Checkerboard Minecraft Creeper Cake (NO Special Pan!)

Jakob turned 8 in 2015 and if it wasn’t clear from Henri’s Minecraft party, Minecraft lootbags and Minecraft grass biome cake that same year, 2015 brought in the reign of one particular video game in our household. (They even had DIY Minecraft Halloween costumes that year!)

Jakob was obsessed, in particular, with the Creeper. This unassuming green dude looks real cute until he shows up and blows up.

I decided to take inspiration for the inside of the cake from the Creeper’s multitude of green shades, and to theme the outside on the tshirts the boys would be wearing to the party, with the following image:

While I own a round checkerboard pan kit, I don’t have anything similar for square cakes so I had to get creative. I ended up coming up with a way to get the checkerboard look without requiring ANY special tools, and you can do it too if you follow the steps below.

Step 1 is to bake 4 cake layers, each tinted a different shade of green I used 8″ square cake pans and tinted my batter with gel coloring to get 4 different shades.

These are the colors I went with. You can choose to use more colors and more layers if you like – to copy the actual Creeper would require 8 layers for an 8×8 grid. If you want to match the colors exactly I provide the hex codes for all 8 colors in my Minecraft Steve & Creeper DIY costume head tutorial.

I only own 2 8″ square pans so I baked my cakes 2 at a time.

The cakes will turn golden on top as they bake so my icing swatches came in handy to remember which cakes were which later on.

Unfortunately I don’t have pics of the next steps but they’re very simple to follow-

  • Trim the golden top and sides off each cake
  • Cut each cake into even strips. Be sure to cut each cake into an identical number of strips. If you look at the cut section of my cake below, you can see I cut mine into 7 strips.
  • Place a bit of icing on your serving tray (to anchor the bottom pieces) and place 7 strips of assorted colors side by side to form the first layer. (Replace “7” with the number of strips you have in your cake). Once your color placement is to your liking, add a thin layer of icing between the sides of each strip to secure them to each other
  • Add a thin layer of icing across the entire top surface of layer 1
  • Repeat the last 2 steps 3 more times to add layers 2, 3 and 4. This will have used up all your cake strips
  • TIP: when cut vertically from the end, the cake will have a gridded/pixel look. You can use the same technique to create any pixel art desired
  • The key thing is to remember which direction your strips run. When you cut the cake you will want to cut horizontally ACROSS all the colors, to get the checkerboard look. If you cut horizontally WITH the strips, your cake will look like long rectangles of color.

To finish the cake simply ice and decorate the outside as desired. I covered mine with solid green icing and a fondant Creeper face, then added fondant lettering to match the boys’ shirts and Jakob’s name and age.

I used the placement of the face as my reminder which way to cut the cake later.

As you can see from the cross-section, the inside worked out perfectly! It looks just like the Creeper and Jakob was thrilled.

Jakob’s other birthday cakes

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New York cake

New York Cake

I’ve showed this finished cake before but never actually posted detail shots.  Let’s remedy that.

A few years ago a co-worker of my brother’s asked if I could make a cake matching an image she’d found online.

nycakeAt the time it didn’t occur to me to check online to see whose design it was.  I just looked now and can’t find an exact source.  I can see it listed on Cake Picture Gallery without a source, and a very similar design here on cakesdecor.com credited to Berliosca Cake Boutique in BC.  I don’t know whose came first.  In any case, I was asked to make just one tier, no water/bridge/statue, and told she’d provide the apple herself.

I decided to build it up with a checkerboard cake, partly because I needed the height from the three layers to fit the skyline, and partly because I loved the idea of a New York-themed cake having a taxi cab-esque checkerboard on the inside.  (It’s deliciouser on the inside.  Heh.)

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I leveled the cakes and filled them with homemade buttercream, then did a crumb coat around the entire cake.  I let that set up in the fridge while tinting some store-bought white fondant into the pale gray-ish blue color.  Rolled it out and covered the cake.

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I bought pre-tinted black fondant and rolled out a thick disc to set the cake on, then rolled out some strips the height of my tallest building.  I eyeballed the building placement, going off the sample pic and just tried to make sure I had some variation in heights for interest.  You can see in the pic below that I used a toothpick to support the tallest building.  I cut out the buildings in groupings of 2-3 and ‘glued’ them around the cake with a bit of water.  I stuck them on after setting the cake in place, so I could make sure to butt them down as low as possible to the ‘road’.

IMG_0228  I thinned some black food gel and dotted the ‘stars’ around the sky, and used Wilton whitener for the road markings and the ‘windows’.  Sadly I didn’t think to thicken the whitener with a bit of icing sugar, so it paled considerably once dried, and I had to do a second coat on most of them.  To make the adorable taxis I tinted some white fondant yellow and shaped it into a rectangular brick.  I cut off the outside corners with a sharp knife then sliced the resulting “T” shape into car-appropriate widths.  The wheels are tiny flattened disks of black fondant, everything ‘glued’ together with a bit of water.IMG_0233

 

The last thing to do was the grass for the top.  I knew they’d be adding the apple on-site, but making a green fondant disk felt too easy.  I had leftover buttercream so I tinted it green and hand-piped the blades of grass with a piping bag and multi-holed icing tip. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI later received this pic from the woman who’d bought the cake.  I love seeing the inside, seeing that the checkerboard lined up properly!  😀