Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Hiking Cake: Tips and Tricks

It was Seth's birthday last week.  This was such a fun cake to make.  Seth loves being outdoors, and the outdoors love him.  He especially likes being out in the woods and having a path to follow where he can imagine he's the first person to explore it.

And of course when you're camping in the woods,  you have to have a campfire.  The "real" campfire on the cake was everybody's favorite feature.  And I have to say it was nice to have the candles really add to the charm of the cake, rather than being stuck in at the last minute because they don't really belong.

We decided a while ago that we will only "do birthday parties" at certain ages for the kids (kindergarten year, 8, 12, 16, etc).  The other years, I still make them a cake though.  I like to come up with some idea with them that represents something they're interested in...and is also in the do-able range.  

We went through several ideas for Seth's birthday cake, before settling on this one.  It turned out that Seth's birthmom Liz was able to come up for a visit just before Seth's birthday.  She happened to arrive the night that Eric had already scheduled with his brothers to take the cousins on an overnight hike.  (It's a year tradition that the school-aged kids go on an overnight hike sometime during the summer.)  Liz was getting in too late to go on the campout, but we didn't want her to miss out on time with Seth.  We decided that I'd drive her up first thing in the morning, so she could spend the day with Seth in the woods and hike back out with everyone.  (It's a mark of how happy Seth was to see Liz that he smiled so well for the picture.)

I thought that Eric had said it was an easy 1/2 mile hike...so I figured that since Seth LOVES the woods, and since Liz and the cousins were going to be there, then why not bring his birthday cake up....and so the hiking cake was concieved.  

It turned out that the hike was a 1 AND 1/2 miles, most of it uphill.  (There are three separate legs that are each 1/2 mile, so that must be where the communication broke down.)  Liz was a rock star, though, and carried Seth's cake all the way in.

Anyway, I didn't take step-by-step pictures for a tutorial, but I will give some tips, so you can make one yourself.  

Supplies Needed:  Frosting (I made a double batch to be safe, but single probably would be enough.), food coloring, Chocolate Rocks, Chocolate sandwich cookies (Oreas), Graham Crackers, Melting chocolate, ziploc baggies, parchment or wax paper, birthday candles

Optional Supplies: Piping bags and tips, leaf tip, bake even strips.

I baked the cake in an 8 by 3-inch pan {affiliate link} using bake even strips to keep the middle from doming too much.  Then I cut it in half, and added some filling.


Reserve some frosting for the lake and some for the writing if you want it in a different color.  Then color the bulk of your frosting green.  I frosted the whole cake in green frosting.  I added the blue frosting for the lake and waterfall over the top of the green.  I also frosted some of the plate surrounding the cake

Open the chocolate sandwich cookies and remove the creme filling.  Put the cookies in a ziploc baggie and crush them into little crumbs.  Carefully apply the crumbs to the cake to form the hiking path.  I cut a large hold in the bottom of the ziploc bag and dropped the crumbs through and then smoothed them out with my finger.

I used chocolate rocks to make the campfire ring.  Place your birthday candles in a clump inside the fire ring.  The idea of the "real" fire, came from here

I also added some to clumps to the edges of the path, and lake, and put some on the edge of the cake where the waterfall tumbles down the side.  The idea for the path, and to use clumps of rocks to look more realistic came from Carrie at Worth Pinning.  The original used gum paste rocks that look amazing, but the chocolate rocks from the bulk section at the grocery store worked great for me.

I made a tent out of graham crackers and used it as the place to put Seth's name and Happy Birthday.

Several of the cakes I'd seen had trees on top of the cake, but our cake was really too small for that.  Instead I made chocolate trees for the side.  I drew out the tree shapes I wanted, put wax paper over it, and piped the melted chocolate out of the corner of a ziploc bag over the design.  Then I let them cool and stuck them on the cake with frosting.  The idea, with more details for making the trees came from here.

I darkened some of the extra green frosting and used a leaf tip to add some extra green in amongst the rocks and along the base of the cake.  It was so warm when I was making it, they didn't turn out looking all that leafy.  You could easily use some over tip to add the bits of green, or leave them out entirely.

Amazingly, the cake survived the 1 1/2 mile trek up to the campsite where Seth and the cousins had spent the night.  In true form for a camping trip in the Pacific Northwest, it rained.  It actually started raining and thundering as we were hiking up, just enough to cool us off and make the hike more comfortable.  We had just enough time to snap a few pictures...
 ...and light the fire before the rain really let loose.  (You wouldn't know it by his face, but the campfire was his favorite part.  He doesn't like smiling for pictures.)

We ended up carrying the cake under one of the trees, cutting it quickly.  It probably only took about 5 minutes with everyone standing under the tree eating and the cake was GONE.

Because of the rain and thunder (which stopped completely about 15 minutes later) we ended up hiking right back out.
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  1. Found you at Sugar Bee Craft's Take-A-Look Tuesday: AWESOME cake!!


  2. That is one awesome cake, Polly!


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