A cake shaped and decorated like a cowboy boot makes a delightful treat for Wild West fans and cowpokes of all ages. Cake pans molded in the shape of a cowboy boot make these cakes especially easy, but you can also cut pieces from a sheet cake to form the boot without purchasing a special pan.
Things You'll Need
- 9-by-13-inch cake pan
- Baking sheet
- Serrated knife
- Measuring tape
- Cake plate or cake board
- Buttercream frosting
- Straight icing spatula
- Offset icing spatula
- Non-textured paper towel
- Food coloring gel
- Decorating bag
- Small, round decorating tip
- Small, star decorating tip
Bake your choice of cake in a 9-by-13-inch sheet cake pan. This makes a cowboy boot cake roughly 13 inches tall; increase the size of the sheet cake to make a larger boot cake.
Allow the cake to cool completely and remove it from the pan onto a baking sheet. Place the cake in the freezer for a few hours or until mostly frozen.
Place the frozen cake on a flat work surface and cut it with a serrated knife. Running your knife along the short side of the cake, cut a 2-inch wide strip. The resulting strip measures 2 inches by 9 inches. Divide the 2-by-9-inch strip into one 7-inch piece for the sole at the front of the boot and one 2-inch piece for the boot heel. Set these pieces aside.
Reposition the large remaining section of cake on the work surface. Running your knife along the longer side, cut a strip 2 1/2 inches wide. This strip will be used for the foot portion of the boot. The remaining slab of cake will be used for the throat of the boot -- the section that rises up the calf from the ankle.
Arrange the four cake sections on a cake plate or cake board to form a basic boot shape. The largest piece runs vertically to form the boot throat, with the next largest running horizontally, forming an "L" or backward "L" with the boot throat, depending on the direction you want the boot to face. The two smaller pieces go under the foot portion of the boot with a gap between each piece.
Spread a bit of buttercream frosting at the points where the pieces connect, using the frosting as glue to hold the pieces together. Return the cake to the freezer and return it to the work surface when frozen. Trim the cake pieces to better define the cowboy boot shape. Round out the point where the boot throat meets the instep at the top of the foot portion. Cowboy boots are also typically curved slightly along the front of the foot portion and come to a point at the toe.
Spread a thin layer of buttercream frosting over the entire boot-shaped cake to seal in the crumbs. Allow this crumb coat to harden for 20 to 30 minutes until a crust forms. Rub a non-textured paper towel over all sides of the frosting to smooth out bumps.
Divide the remaining frosting into separate bowls for each color you wish to use to decorate the cake. If you plan to use one color for most of the boot and one or two other colors for the decorative accents, set aside more of the frosting in one bowl, reserving a smaller amount for the decorative accent colors. Dip a toothpick in your choice of food coloring gel and swirl it into the frosting. Mix the frosting well, adding more food coloring gel a drop at a time until you achieve the desired color. Repeat with the remaining bowls of frosting.
Spread your choice of base color frosting over the entire boot cake with straight and offset icing spatulas. This is the main color you wish to see on the boot. Dip the spatula blades in a cup of hot water to heat the blade and wipe the water off onto a towel. The heated blade melts the sugar and fat in the frosting slightly so you can spread it nearly perfectly smooth.
Drag the tines of a fork horizontally across the boot heel to give it a wooden-like texture. Place the cake in the freezer for 30 minutes to harden the frosting.
Draw any design features you want to include into the frosting with a toothpick. Press lightly with the toothpick and wipe it often to avoid bumps and ridges of frosting. As an example, draw a scalloped line across the toe and a few inches down from the top of the boot throat to be filled in with a second color. Draw a star shape centered on the boot throat to be filled in with a third color.
Spread the second frosting color within the area you outlined using the toothpick. Spread the icing as smooth and as close to the toothpick lines as possible with an icing spatula.
Outline your toothpick details using a decorating bag, if you wish. Start by fitting a small, round decorating tip in a decorating bag and filling the bag with a colored frosting. Squeeze the bag firmly with constant pressure to release a steady stream of frosting. Hold the tip close to the cake without touching and use your wrists to guide the frosting stream.
Tips & Warnings
- As an alternative to spreading the colored frosting smooth across the cake, you can cover the entire cake with stars, fill them in with frosting and outline them using a decorating bag. Apply the crumb coat of frosting first, draw designs on the frosting with a toothpick and trace the toothpick lines with a round decorating tip and colored frosting. Fill in the spaces within the outlines with the star decorating tip, switching between different colored frosting to show the decorative details.
- Try a simple but impressive technique to give the boots the look of ostrich print boots. Spread the base color over the entire cake and allow it to form a crust. Pipe dots of icing in a contrasting color onto the boots with a small, round decorating tip.
- Crusting buttercream frosting works well for this type of cake decoration because the frosting holds shape and is less likely to melt than frosting made with only butter. Replace at least half or or all of the butter in a buttercream recipe with vegetable shortening to make crusting buttercream.