Thank you so much for all of your kind words yesterday about my daughter’s Super Science Party! I promised I’d be back today to show you just how I managed to make her 8 Layer Surprise Cake and I never go back on a promise.
When dreaming up a birthday cake for my daughter’s science party, I stumbled upon a photo of a wedding cake that looked like it was spilling tiny pink nonpareil jewels from the center and showed it to her. Before I could even think of the logistics of such a cake (or the fact that I’ve never made anything bigger than a 2-layer cake), she declared it “the one”.
We replaced the pink nonpareils with sixlets and called it a molecular core to fit our science theme, but the interpretations are endless—I could easily see this cake holding gold coins for a pirate party, candy necklaces and jewels for a princess party, or a mysterious map or clues for a detective/spy party.
Step 1: Baking & Coring the Layers
2 weeks before the party I baked four 9-inch round cakes. After leveling the cakes, I torted them (basically cut them in half) to create the 8 layers of the cake. To make the hollow core I used a 2 ½-inch biscuit cutter to cut a hole in the center of 7 of the layers, saving the cake plug from the top layer and leaving the bottom layer intact. Then I double wrapped and froze each layer.
Step 2: The Perfect Buttercream
The day before the party I made multiple batches of frosting. No celebration is complete without our family’s favorite vanilla buttercream recipe which I used to frost the outside of the cake. The recipe comes from Lauren Chattman’s cookbook, Mom’s Big Book of Baking, but it has been a part of so many of our life events & celebrations that it feels like a closely guarded family secret. If you’ve been looking for the perfect buttercream, this is the recipe for you.
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks) softened
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1 16oz. box confectioner’s sugar
- 1 TBS meringue powder
- 1 TBS whole or low fat milk
- Combine butter, vanilla and salt in large mixing bowl. With electric mixer on med-high speed, beat until butter is fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl several times as necessary.
- Add confectioner’s sugar ½ cup at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition. When all sugar has been mixed into butter, stir in meringue powder.
- Add milk and beat on high scraping down sides once or twice until frosting is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
- Use frosting immediately or refrigerate wrapped in plastic for up to a week. Bring to room temperature and rewhip before using.
Step 3: Assembling
I took the layers directly from the freezer and in its frozen state, I built the cake up with thin layers of strawberry buttercream in between. Before adding the final layer I poured the sixlets into the core, added the top layer, and put the cake plug in place.
For extra support, I inserted 4 boba tea style straws, trimming the tops with scissors so they were level with the cake. The straws slid easily through the layers and kept the cake from sliding and shifting as it was being cut during the party.
A thin crumb coat of frosting filled in all the gaps of my less-than-perfect layers followed by a thicker final layer of buttercream. I loosely wrapped the cake and refrigerated it until the next day.
Step 4: Surprise!
I wasn’t sure how quickly the contents would spill out of the cake and it wasn’t until about the 4th slice that the sixlets were able to break loose from the center.
With the cake completed, I set to work on the oversized molecule cake toppers which were a bit of a last minute inspiration. I cut striped paper straws in thirds and hot glued the ends to large gum balls, copying some of the diagrams from the gumdrop molecule building station.
Once the opening was large enough and the treasures emerged, the girls (and adults) couldn’t take their eyes off of it. I was just so surprised that it actually worked! Which honestly proves that it does not require much skill to pull off this showstopper.
Thanks so much for joining me today At the Picket Fence,
Here are more of Julie’s amazing party contributions:
Paint Themed Party
Oh my goodness, this is the coolest cake ever and so darn pretty! Love it!!! The options are endless here!!!!
Natalie @ A Turtle's Life for Me says
That is so ridiculously awesome and my mind is spinning now with all the possibilities! Such a cool tie-in and SO pretty!! Great job!
Marty Walden says
This cake rocks! I know you were the best mom on the planet that day!
thanks for your sweet words, marty! i loved your “day in the life post”….that inspires me!!
That is an amazing cake!!!! I would’ve been scared to death to even attempt it!
Wow! This looks great! At first sight, I thought I’d be way too chicken to attempt this, but after your tutorial, I think I just may be able to pull it off. 🙂 Super job!!
thanks so much, lisa! i usually stick with cupcakes at parties since cakes intimidate me but this one–it’s deceptively easy!
I was the cake cutter at this party and it cut beautifully!!! When the molecules, as we called them started flowing out, the awe on the children’s faces was priceless. So proud of you Julie! I never attempted that challenge when you were little. xxxxxmomxxxxx
Sonya@Beyond the Screen Door says
Thanks so much for sharing this today! I would love to try this sometime. I think I’d love it as much as the kids do!
Awesome! I do this with “pinita” cookies. I love all those soft pink & purple with the white. I stumbled in from a retweet a friend of mine tweeted. I’m a new follower! I hope you have a great Thursday night!
Coolest cake ever! Now I really want to try something like this for the next party I throw! That is just awesome!
Melissa @ DaisyMaeBelle says
I totally LOVE that cake! Yes, the possibilities are endless! I am pinning this! Life to the full! Melissa
Jennifer @ Dimples & Tangles says
Hey Julie! What a COOL cake! Love it! I read your post just before making my daughter’s birthday cake last weekend, and decided to try your frosting recipe. It tasted so good and was great to work with…everyone loved it! It will now be my go-to for buttercream icing. Here’s a post about the cake if you’d like to see it-
Thanks for watermarking/ tagging your pictures! I’m trying this in a few weeks and your post was so detailed and helpful! loved reading it thank you so much!
INDIE MUSIC, INDIE ACOUSTIC, INDIE ROCK, ACOUSTIC ROCK says
Thanks for another great post. The place in addition may everyone get that types of facts in this a perfect ways of publishing? I’ve a display a few weeks, with this particular on the look for such information.
wow! what an amazing cake! about how many six lets will I need ? On Amazon they sell them by the pound
Jessica Welman says
I just found your site through pinterest. This is the most awesome cake ever. My daughter is turning 8 and I have been going crazy searching for a cake for her science themed party. I really hope I can pull off making this cake. I know it will be a hit and she will love it.
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