Superhero Birthday Cake

I was asked to make a superhero birthday cake for a little boy who just turned 4. I jumped at the chance, as I usually don’t have the opportunity to make super cute birthday cakes. My inspiration for this cake was taken from Mandy at CakeCentral.com.  One of these days I will do a step-by-step tutorial on how to make, stack, frost, and decorate tiered cakes, but until then, here’s the details about this cake and how it was made.

PS: I have to thank my wonderful friend Meghan, who helped with the whole process. She decorated the cupcakes below and developed a definite love/hate relationship with fondant!

  • The bottom tier was vanilla cake and the top tier was chocolate. For the vanilla cake, I used Smitten Kitchen’s Best Birthday Cake recipe. For the chocolate cake, I used Kevin and Amanda’s Best Chocolate Cake recipe.
  • The “buildings” for Gotham city were pieces of Hershey chocolate bars – with squares of white and yellow fondant. I “glued” the fondant onto the chocolate using corn syrup.
  • The batman logo and yellow letters were made with fondant. Meghan traced the logo and cut it out. The letters were done using small alphabet cutters.
  • The yellow trim was done using a M1 tip.
  • The spider web on the top of the cake was done by hand using black frosting.
  • The SpiderMan candle was purchased at Walgreens.
  • If you are interested in trying to make a tiered cake, you MUST MUST MUST use cake dowels for structural support. There are tons of tutorials online about cake dowels – what they are, how to use them, etc.
  • I had never made a large tiered cake prior to this, so it was a bit of an experiment. I was so pleased with the outcome! The frosting isn’t perfectly smooth and the cakes aren’t perfectly straight – and that okay! Don’t be afraid to try :)

kimz - March 21, 2011 - 8:12 am

Annie, this looks amazing!

Annie - March 21, 2011 - 10:55 am

Thanks, Kim! :)

Laura R. - March 21, 2011 - 4:12 pm

very impressive! well done!

Karrie - April 4, 2011 - 8:38 pm

LOVE THIS! My little guy is turning 3 and wants a superhero theme and I love this cake. What size of pans did you use and how many people were you serving? I love the tiers and all the cool details on this cake. THANK YOU for sharing!!! Oh and what size of letters did you use??? THANKS!

Annie - April 4, 2011 - 8:46 pm

Hi Karrie,
Thanks for the compliments!! I used a 12″ pan for the bottom tier and 8″ pans for the top tier (thought 9″ pans would also work fine!). For the letters, I cut the fondant using an alphabet fondant cutter set. Wilton sells one: http://www.amazon.com/Wilton-Fondant-Alphabet-Number-Cookie/dp/B0009PU010
Let me know if you have other questions!

Karrie - April 9, 2011 - 3:17 pm

Ok, me again…Found the 12 in cake pans but how much batter in each pan? It looks like your cake is very full and beautiful! The pan came with no tips or directions as to how much batter…Also, how did you get your icing so smooth, do you have a buttercream recipe you want to share to make it look so smooth?? Looks similar to fondant and I love that because I hate the taste of fondant. Did you make your own Fondant for the accessory pieces/cupcakes?? I bought the Wilton ready made fondant since I’ve never worked with it before and this is such a small amount needed. Didn’t want to waste an entire batch for just a few letters and a batman logo!

Thanks for inspiring me! Birthday cake to be made next weekend! :)

Annie - April 9, 2011 - 11:26 pm

Hi Karrie :)

You might find this guide to be helpful: http://www.wilton.com/cakes/making-cakes/baking-party-cake-2-inch-pans.cfm

It lists various cake pan sizes, along with how much batter you should add to the pan. It also includes baking time estimates. Key word being “estimates”. Be sure to check on your cake often, because it may finish sooner than the estimated time.

The frosting recipe I used can be found here: http://www.withsprinklesontop.net/?page_id=1270 — look for the “White Buttercream Frosting” recipe. The more milk you add, the smoother the frosting will be.

I don’t really have any tricks or tips for making the cake look smooth — just take your time frosting it. I usually do a crumb coat first — add a thin layer of frosting to the cake and don’t worry about making it look good. Then put the cake in the fridge or freezer for about 20 min. Remove the cake and then add more frosting — the “crumb coat” of frosting will allow you to finish frosting the cake without worrying about crumbs and bits and pieces of the cake getting in the way of the finished product.

Another tip when frosting a cake is to run your frosting spatula under hot water. The warm metal will cause the frosting smooth.

I didn’t make the fondant. I used the pre-colored Wilton fondant. I’m not a huge fan of fondant, so buying it pre-made was worth the time and money.

Let me know if you have more questions – I’m happy to help! Good luck :)

Karrie - April 13, 2011 - 6:11 pm

Hi. Me again! I’ve looked at several tutorials on line about cake decorating and can’t decide what to wrap my cake circle in between the 9 in layer and the 12 in layer? Do you use the Wilton foil, regular foil, plastic wrap or wax paper? Also do you have any tips for cutting the wooden dowels?

You have been such a HELPFUL resource for me in doing this cake. I always do my own cakes for my boys but this is my first TIERED cake (if you call it that with just two tiers…) I love your site and all your yummy recipes, you INSPIRE me!!!

Karrie

Annie - April 13, 2011 - 8:39 pm

Hi Karrie!
I actually didn’t wrap my cake circle at all. It worked out fine! Though if you do want to wrap it, I’d suggest wax paper.
I bought plastic cake dowels, which are MUCH easier to cut. Wilton sells them in packs of 4. They are hallow and super easy to cut with a serrated kitchen knife.
Hope all of that helps! And thank you for your kind words – I appreciate it!
Annie

Karrie - April 18, 2011 - 10:52 pm

Hi Annie,

I DID IT!!! I survived making my first TIERED CAKE!!! :) I had only THREE issues. 1. Transferring the second 12″ layer to the one I had “dirty iced”, it cracked a bit but with the dowels and all the butter cream, it didn’t cause a problem. 2, I misread and used corn syrup to stick the batman logo onto the yellow part. It slid down and created black goo on my yellow part but I tried to fix it with yellow butter cream. 3. That M1 tip, uggh, I didn’t use a coupler because of it’s size and my stars, were big BALLS! :) All in all, I’m so glad I came across your site and pictures and help1!! I couldn’t have done it without you!! If you have a facebook page or an e-mail I’d love to show you my cake!!! :) Thanks again!!! Cake decorating sure is a learning process!!!

Annie - April 18, 2011 - 10:55 pm

Yaaaay! Congrats! I’m glad it turned out well, despite the three little issues. It’s always a learning process, isn’t it? I don’t have a Facebook page (yet… one of these days…), but you can email me the photo if you’d like! My address is annie.elmer@gmail.com

Keep in touch! :)

rosemary wynn - April 26, 2011 - 11:45 am

OMG – Thank you for posting these. I am doing a superhero birthday in July for my soon to be 4 year old. Your detail is awesome!!! Wish you could send the templates out. Love it!

Audy - August 15, 2011 - 10:17 am

hey Annie :)
i really really want to make these cupcakes, but i do not know how to make the fondant. can you please help me?

Annie - August 15, 2011 - 11:31 am

Hi Audy,
I don’t make the fondant, I buy it! Stores like Michaels, Hobby Lobby, JoAnn Fabrics, etc will carry it — as well as any specialty baking shops that your city may have. hope that helps

Natalie - November 16, 2011 - 1:31 pm

Hi Annie! I just found your cake while googling superhero cakes, and I love it! I am quite the novice, but am attempting this for my son’s 4th birthday this weekend. I have a few quick questions, if you have a chance to help me out. 1.) What is the easiest way to cut out the fondant shapes? 2.) What did you use to stick the two pieces of fondant together? 3.) How did you attach the Hershey bars to the cake? 4.) What is a cake circle? I have only found heavy plastic ones used for tiered cakes with columns. Thanks for your time!

amanda - April 24, 2012 - 11:34 pm

they look amazing my boys will love it :)

Jillian - July 30, 2012 - 8:47 pm

Nathan Birthday Cake

Jillian - July 30, 2012 - 8:49 pm

Great cake…can’t wait to make it for my little guy!

[…] Superhero Cake […]

Kate - April 29, 2013 - 12:32 am

Hi
This is fantastic!
All my daughter wants for her 5th birthday is a superhero cake.
Where did you get the superhero “S” on the cupcakes?
Thanks!

Annie - April 29, 2013 - 9:07 am

Hi Kate, I cut the fondant Super Man “S”s out with an exacto knife. Probably not the answer you were hoping for – ha! I bet you could find pre-made Super Man cupcake toppers online if you do a search.

Beth - August 29, 2013 - 12:13 pm

THANK YOU I DO/did make cakes BUT LOST my confidence people still expect me to do what I use to and I am frozen!!!!!! I have to do a superhero for my grandson. You helped me consider your self hugged via email thank you

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