How to Make 3D Birthday Cakes


Homemade birthday cakes make thoughtful and personal gifts for friends or family members. Many cake-makers sell ready-made 3D cakes of popular designs and even take special orders. With a little practice, however, you can make them yourself and really make an impression at a little one's party. Of course, 3D cakes are not just for children -- you can make cakes for adults that are either humorous or reflect the adult's interests. You just have to master the basics and soon you'll be making everything from dinosaurs to disco balls.

Things You'll Need

  • Thick round cakes of desired flavor
  • Thick buttercream frosting
  • Food coloring of desired color
  • Multicolored rolled fondant
  • Toasted coconut chips or coconut powder (optional)
  • Frosting bag with star pipe tip
  • Sharp carving knife
  • Paper
  • Pen
  • Spatula
  • Cake stand or tray


  • Freeze the cakes for approximately two hours. This will prevent them from crumbling.

  • Sketch the cake design on a piece of paper. Pay attention to details; for instance, if you are making a cartoon character, include facial features and clothing details in your sketch. Color the sketch in accurately.

  • Draw and cut out full-size templates for any odd-shaped cake parts on a separate piece of paper. You will use these templates later to cut shapes out of cake. For instance, if you are making a puppy, you can use round cakes to make the puppy's body, but you will have to cut out pieces of cake to form the puppy's head, legs and tail. You will need a template for each part.

  • Draw and cut out full-size paper templates for any shapes you want to make out of fondant. For instance, if you are making a doll's skirt cake and you want to decorate it with fondant flowers, draw and cut out a paper flower template.

  • Separate the buttercream frosting into as many bowls as you have colors on your cake and dye each portion using the right food coloring. Make sure you have enough frosting for each color on the cake, and some spare.

Assembling the cake

  • Take the round cakes out of the freezer.

  • Create the main body of the cake on the cake stand. If you are making an animal, the easiest way to create its body is to cut a round cake in half vertically and sandwich them together using buttercream frosting, so they form a thick semicircle. If you are making a doll's skirt, pile up two round cakes and sandwich them together with buttercream frosting, then trim the top cake by carving diagonally downward so that you end up with a 3D skirt shape.

  • Lay the cake templates onto a separate cake and cut around them carefully with the carving knife. Repeat until you have cut out all remaining parts of the cake.

  • Arrange all the cake pieces correctly around the main cake body. At this stage, the shape of your cake should at least vaguely resemble your desired animal, character or object.

  • Stick all the loose pieces of cake into place with buttercream frosting.

  • Use the spatula to cover the cake in thin layers of the appropriate color of buttercream frosting. Work with a light hand to prevent the cake from crumbling.

  • Fill the frosting bag with buttercream and go over the cake with piped frosting of the same color. Pipe details or patterns using different colors if required.

  • Follow the fondant templates to cut shapes into the fondant. Stick the shapes onto the cake. They should stick on their own, without the use of buttercream.

  • Sprinkle toasted coconut flakes around the cake if you want to symbolize a forest floor or coconut powder if you want to symbolize snow.

  • Photo Credit Doll cake image by Stokholm from
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