Every year, I make a 'surprise' birthday cake for each of my kids.
For my son, Kai's, 7 year-old birthday, I made a 'Volcano Cake'. It is made up of two 8-inch layers, two 10-inch layers, topped with a 6-inch Bundt cake.
However, the coolest part is using dried ice to create a 'smoking' volcano!
This cake is not only easy to make - it's fun!
The birthday party had a 'prehistoric theme' so the Volcano cake paired with plastic dinosaurs worked perfectly. Each party guest got to go home with a plastic dinosaur from the cake.
I was inspired by Sandra Lee's Volcano Cake, but have made a few modifications. I hope you try it out for your favorite birthday boy or girl!
Volcano Birthday Cake Click here for printable version
2 boxes chocolate fudge cake mix (devil's food also works fine)
2 2/3 cups water
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 packages cream cheese at room temperature
2 sticks butter (8 oz) at room temperature
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
8 cups powdered sugar (I use C&H brand because you don't have to sift it)
6.4 oz cans of Betty Crocker Easy Flow green, red, yellow and orange decorating icing
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 2 (8-inch) cake pans, 2 (10-inch) cake pans and 1 (6-inch) Bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Combine the cake mix, water, oil and eggs with electric mixer, following the directions on the cake mix box. Pour the batter into the cake pans - make sure the level of batter is equal in each pan.
The 8-inch and 6-inch Bundt pan only need to bake for 35 - 40 minutes. The 10-inch cakes need to bake a bit longer for 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool the cakes on a cooling rack for 15 minutes and then carefully remove them from their pans. Finish cooling on a wire rack.
Now it's time to put them together. You need to level the surfaces of the cakes so that they are flat. A serrated knife makes this much easier to do. Reserve the cut tops to use for later. For the Bundt cake, you need to slice off the bottom so that it is level.
Stack the 10-inch layers together by spreading a thin layer of cream cheese chocolate frosting. Now do the same for the 8-inch layers. Spread a thin layer of frosting on top of the 10-inch layers and put the 8-inch cakes on the top. For the top piece - the 6-inch Bundt cake, spread a thin layer of frosting on top of the 8-inch layers and center the Bundt cake so that the flat bottom is pointing down. Place another thin layer of frosting on top of the 8-inch layer cake and place the bunt cake cut side down on top.
Take your serrated knife and start to 'sculpt' your cake so that it resembles a volcano. I did this by carefully cutting downward at an angle.
Once you have finished 'sculpting' your volcano, frost the outside of your volcano. Using the reserved cake (that you cut off to level the tops) - break into large pieces and spread around the volcano. You can frost these large clumps if desired - I did this so that they would stay moist instead of drying out and becoming inedible.
Add 'grass' around the base using the green can of Easy Flow icing - or you can make Royal icing and color it green, which is what I did. Use the red, orange and yellow cans of Easy Flow icing to create the lava, flowing out of the volcano. Use the smaller tip to do this. I used colored candy melts for my lava, but wouldn't do it again - it tended to 'crack'. Next time, I would use the Easy Flow decorating icing.
I placed plastic dinosaur figures around the cake to go with the 'prehistoric theme' of the birthday party. Just before serving, put some dry ice in a clear glass votive (inside the Bundt cake hole on the top).
Just before serving, add a little warm water to the dry ice and you will start to see it 'smoke' like a real volcano!
**My son and his friends absolutely loved the cake - especially the 'smoky' effect from the dry ice.
Adapted from Sandra Lee's Volcano Cake