A coworker of mine recently showed me a couple of pictures from Pinterest and asked if I could make a similar cake/cupcake combo for her twin grandsons’ upcoming birthday.
I won’t lie…I get suuuper nervous whenever anyone shows me a Pinterest pin and asks if I can make what’s in the picture!! :/
Fortunately, this cake and cupcake set went probably about 90% to plan, and I was really happy with the way it turned out! If you’re looking to do the same thing, 100% of the knowledge I have to pass on to you is below! Good luck! For brevity, I've just included the cake recipe / instructions below; I'll put the cupcakes in a separate recipe.
(Of note – if you’re reading this with a plan to make the cake AND you want to make your own fondant for decorating, make sure you make it about 24 hours ahead of the time! You’ll save yourself SO much frustration; marshmallow fondant handles MUCH better after enough resting time. Also - many of my in-post links don't copy correctly into FoodTalk posts - IntensiveCakeUnit.com/superhero-cake will have functional supply links for anything you need!)
And BEFORE Y’ALL COME AT ME – to all the hardcore Marvel fans out there, YES, I know it looks like Batman doesn’t belong in this cake! The kiddos love Batman though….and it was their birthday, sooo….their vote ruled!
- 2 vanilla boxed cake mixes (your choice; I used Duncan Hines)
- 1 cup butter, melted
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 8 eggs
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
Frosting / Decorations
- 8 oz (one package) cream cheese, softened
- 16 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened
- 6-7 c powdered sugar
- 2-4 Tablespoons milk
- 1 T clear vanilla extract
- 1/4 t. salt (if using unsalted butter)
- (Save and add later: Americolor gel food colorings – I used red, blue, purple, green, and black, but you could change up the colors if you want to theme the cake with different superheroes!)
- - Fondant for decorations- you can buy fondant or make your own (Pinterest and Google both have at least 30 easily accessible recipes)
- - Small piping bag & tip – this set has been one of my favorites, and I mostly used the small star tips.
- (I made the cake in the photos with two doctored-up white vanilla boxed cake mixes baked in a 15x10” pan. I used butter instead of oil, added extra vanilla, extra eggs, and used buttermilk instead of water. You could double your favorite vanilla cake layer recipe and probably get the same result! I wasn’t sure how well the scratch cake recipe I usually use would bake up in a large flat pan, and I wanted a cake to shape that would shape and level well. Up to you!)
- Preheat oven to 350 F (325 for convection ovens). Combine all ingredients and mix until combined, then beat well with a stand mixer or wire whisk for 2 minutes.
- Pour into a greased 15x10 pan and bake until the center tests done; this took about 50 minutes in my oven.
- Once your cake is baked and cooled/chilled, use a large serrated knife to cut it into a 4-shape – I used a couple of pieces of paper to help me keep my cuts straight. Add a thin crumb coat of frosting over the cake – this keeps the cake from drying out and crumbs out of the colored frostings.
Frosting / Decorations
- Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add vanilla and salt and beat until well combined.
- For each of the sections below, pipe on small ‘dabs’ of frosting to cover the cake section with a piping bag fitted with a star or circle piping tip. Cover the sections with your desired colors – the ones I used are below!
- Spiderman: (red frosting) Black candy melts are a perfect way to pipe on spider webs – they set quickly especially if your cake is chilled, and make a pretty convincing web!
- Iron Man: (red frosting) I bought cupcake toppers to use on this section of the cake; this is an easy fallback if you’re unsure how to convey the superhero you want to theme a section of a cake with. I used small bits of silver leaf to add a bit of extra shine to that part of the cake - in hindsight I wish I'd have used gold; you can buy a set with both here!
- Batman: (black frosting) I printed a batman logo and cut out an oval and then the batman logo shape and used them as templates to cut the same shapes out of fondant – recipe below! A bit of gel food color later we were good to go!
- Captain America: (blue frosting) This one took a little more time – I cut out a small fondant star and a large, medium/large, medium/small, small fondant circle. The largest and medium/small circles I painted red, and the small circle was blue – the layers as you stack them should be red, white, red, blue, and then the fondant star. I know, a lot – but it looks super cool when you’re done!
- The Hulk: (purple frosting) I used roughly a 2-tablespoon lump of fondant to make the large Hulk fist shape, and about a thumb-sized amount of fondant to make the cupcake Hulk fists, shaping them with a toothpick and the blunt end of a metal skewer. You can use green fondant or use white fondant and paint it green – I’ve found it easier to get bright colors by painting white fondant, but the color’s not quite as even. Up to you!
- Sheeeesh.....if you made it this far I'm impressed! ;) Decorations like these are often easier to explain by video than text, so a link to my YouTube video's included in this post if that's helpful. Happy baking!
- Make this recipe? Let me know how it went - or find me on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo!