How to Make an Elephant Birthday Cake


An elephant cake fits right in at a birthday party with a circus theme or jungle theme, or for a kid who simply adores pachyderms. Cartoonlike elephants with simple features are most appropriate for children's birthday parties and easiest to translate to confectionary form. Style options vary from basic two-dimensional cakes that even beginner cake decorators can make to elaborate three-dimensional elephants best suited for advanced skill levels.

Elephant-Shaped Cake Pans

  • Elephant-shaped cake pans are molded to include all the basic elephant features. The features are baked onto the cake, working like a grown-up paint-by-numbers guide for novice cake decorators. Spray these pans generously with baking spray to prevent sticking and loss of detail. After baking, cooling and removing the cake from the pan, a light coat of buttercream frosting applied to the finished cake seals in crumbs without concealing the elephant features. This type of cake is typically decorated with buttercream frosting applied with a star decorating tip or spread smooth with a spatula. Tint the buttercream with gel food coloring to make the desired colors. Start with the outline; fill in the small details, such as eyes; and finish by filling in the larger body features.

Two-Dimensional Picture Elephant

  • Image transfer techniques make it possible to add a two-dimensional elephant picture to a cake without any drawing talent. Place a piece of waxed paper over a mirror image of an elephant picture. Create the image using buttercream frosting in your choice of colors. After tracing the outline, decorate the features in the foreground and layer the larger features over top. To make elephant eyes, for example, pipe on the black iris dots first, surround the dots with the desired eye color and layer white on top so that, when flipped, the irises appear on top. When finished, spread a thick layer of the cake base color over the entire area. Place the waxed paper in the refrigerator for several hours to freeze the frosting. Flip the image over onto the cake and peel away the waxed paper.

Round Cake Cutout Elephant

  • An 8- to 9-inch-round layer cake serves as the body for this type of elephant cake. Cut off a wedge across the cake, about 2 inches up from the bottom. Cut out a U-shape at the center of the flat bottom edge, extending about one-fourth of the way up the cake. The resulting gap separates the elephant's two legs. Use the U-shaped piece and bottom cake trimmings to shape the trunk and tail. Cover the cake with your choice of tinted buttercream or fondant icing. Cut out a wide teardrop-shape piece of fondant or fruit leather for the ear; position it at the center of the cake. Use a circle of fondant or a round candy for the eye. Finish with pieces of fondant or fruit leather to resemble four painted toes on each foot.

Three-Dimensional Elephant

  • Serve a large birthday party and impress all the guests with a large three-dimensional elephant cake. Stack a half-sphere cake atop an 8-inch-round cake with a layer of buttercream frosting in between. Trim the cake into an even mound shape using a serrated knife; cover the mound shape with frosting or fondant in your choice of color. Shape four rectangular legs from loaf cakes or marshmallow crispy treats. Shape the head and trunk from marshmallow treats. Position the legs and head around the cake torso -- the placement determines whether the elephant is lying down or sitting upright. Insert a dowel down through the base cake to support the head for an upright elephant. Cover each piece with the same fondant or frosting used for the torso. Create the remaining features -- ears, eyes and toenails -- with fondant or buttercream frosting.

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