Superheroes Birthday Cake

A coworker of mine recently showed me a couple of pictures from Pinterest and asked if I could make a similar cake/cupcake combo for her twin grandsons’ upcoming birthday.
I won’t lie…I get suuuper nervous whenever anyone shows me a Pinterest pin and asks if I can make what’s in the picture!!
Fortunately, this cake and cupcake set went probably about 90% to plan, and I was really happy with the way it turned out! If you’re looking to do the same thing, 100% of the wisdom I have to pass on to you is below! Good luck!
Of note – if you’re reading this with a plan to make the cake AND you want to make your own fondant for decorating, make sure you make it about 24 hours ahead of the time! You’ll save yourself SO much frustration; marshmallow fondant handles MUCH better after enough resting time.
As an aside to all my hardcore Marvel’s Avengers fans out there – YES, I know Batman doesn’t belong in an Avengers themed cake! The kiddos love Batman though….and it’s their birthday, sooo….their vote ruled!

Cake:

In order to keep cost down, I made this cake with two doctored-up white vanilla boxed cake mixes baked in a 15x10” pan. I used butter instead of oil, added extra vanilla, extra eggs, and used milk instead of water. You could double your favorite vanilla cake layer recipe and probably get the same result! I wasn’t sure how well the scratch cale recipe I usually use would bake up in a large flat pan, and I wanted a cake to shape that would level well. Up to you!

Once your cake is baked and cooled/chilled, use a large serrated knife to cut it into a 4-shape – I used a couple of pieces of paper to help me keep my cuts straight. Add a thin crumb coat of frosting over the cake – this keeps the cake from drying out and crumbs out of the colored frostings.

If you’re doing cupcakes as well as a shaped cake, you’ll want two recipes of the frosting recipe below, otherwise one should be enough.

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:
8 oz (one package) cream cheese, softened
16 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened
6-7 c powdered sugar
2-4 Tablespoons milk
1 T clear vanilla extract
1/4 t. salt
Americolor gel food colorings – I used red, blue, purple, and black, but you could change up the colors if you want to theme the cake with different superheroes!

Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add vanilla and salt and beat until well combined.

Extra supplies/Equipment:

- Fondant for decorations- you can buy fondant or make your own (recipe below)
- small / large piping bag & small / large tips

For each of the sections below, pipe on small ‘dabs’ of frosting to cover the cake section with a piping bag fitted with a star or circle piping tip. Cover the sections with your desired colors – the ones I used are below.

Spiderman: (red frosting)
Black candy melts are a perfect way to pipe on spider webs – they set quickly especially if your cake is chilled and make a pretty convincing web!
Iron Man: (red frosting)
I bought cupcake toppers to use on this section of the cake; this is an easy fallback if you’re unsure how to convey the superhero you want to theme a section of a cake with. I used small bits of silver leaf and silver sprinkles to add a bit of extra shine to that part of the cake.
Batman: (black frosting)
I printed a batman logo and cut out an oval and then the batman logo shape and used them as templates to cut the same shapes out of fondant – recipe below! A bit of food coloring later we were good to go!
Captain America: (blue frosting)
This one took a little more time – I cut out a small fondant star and a large, medium/large, medium/small, small fondant circle. The largest and medium/small circles I painted red, and the small circle was blue – the layers as you stack them should be red, white, red, blue, and then the fondant star. I know, a lot – but it looks super cool when you’re done!
The Hulk: (purple frosting)
I used roughly a 2-tablespoon lump of fondant to make the large Hulk fist shape, and about a thumb-sized amount of fondant to make the cupcake Hulk fists, shaping them with a toothpick and the blunt end of a metal skewer. You can use green fondant or use white fondant and paint it green – I’ve found it easier to get bright colors by painting white fondant, but the color’s not quite as even. Up to you!



I’ve tried a couple of different marshmallow fondant recipes, and Tastes Better From Scratch’s recipe is my current fave!

Marshmallow Fondant

-16 ounce package mini marshmallows
-2-5 Tablespoons water
-8 cups powdered sugar
-1/3 cup vegetable shortening

Place marshmallows and 2 tablespoons of water in a large microwave-safe bowl. 

Microwave for 30 seconds on high; stir until mixed well. Continue microwaving in 30 second intervals until they are melted and smooth. Stir in gel food color – you can add it later if you’d like, but it will involve a LOT more kneading to get the color even.
Place about 5 cups of the powdered sugar on top of the melted marshmallow mixture and gently fold it into the marshmallows.

Grease your hands and your counter-top generously with shortening. Turn marshmallow mixture onto counter and start kneading it like you would dough. Add more confectioners' sugar as needed and re-grease your hands the counter-top as needed.

If the marshmallow fondant is tearing easily, it is too dry; add water (about 1/2 tablespoon at a time) kneading until fondant forms a firm, smooth elastic ball that will stretch without tearing, about 8 minutes.

 

Whichever type of fondant you decide to use, soften it slightly in the microwave before shaping your decorations.

 

 

In case you want to make cupcakes as well – recipe’s here!

Cupcakes:

I doubled and slightly-modified a chocolate cupcake recipe from thescranline.com - check out Nick's site and his Instagram feed if you haven't already; he does some incredible work! 
Of note...you'll need either a kitchen scale to measure ingredients in grams OR - you can use this fancy grams to cups converter 😉 Or just use the conversions I ballparked for you. You’re welcome. 😉

Chocolate Cupcakes (makes 24)

Ingredients:

350g all purpose flour (roughly 2 ¼ c)
450g caster sugar (roughly 2 ¼ c)
100g cocoa powder (roughly 1 ¼ c)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 c /250g /16 T unsalted butter, softened
4 large eggs, at room temperature
350ml milk (about 1 ½ ; I used a 2c pyrex liquid measuring cup with mL marks on the back)
2 t vanilla extract

 

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (180C) or 320 FC (160C) for a fan forced oven. Line a cupcake tin with cupcake liners.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the cocoa powder, plain flour, salt, bicarb soda and sugar. Turn mixer on low speed and allow it to mix for a couple minutes to help everything combine well (or sift the ingredients together). Add in the softened butter until no lumps of butter are visible and it’s well incorporated into the dry ingredients.

Next, add milk, eggs, and vanilla together and whisk until well combined. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients in a slow and steady stream until no dry ingredients are visible. Scrape down the bowl and mix for another 20 seconds.

Fill each paper 3/4 of the way (using an ice cream scoop to transfer the batter into the cupcake liners makes this a quick and easy process otherwise you can use two tablespoons). You may find that you have some batter left over - don't over-fill the cupcake tins or they *will* overflow – trust me. :/

Bake for 20-25 min or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow them to cool completely on a wire cooling rack before frosting. If you insert a skewer and it comes out with wet batter, bake for another few minutes at a time until a skewer or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with moist crumbs. Cool completely. 

 

Covering with frosting swirls and fondant fists or candy melt spider webs….or whatever decorations you’re theming your cupcakes with!

 

Make this recipe? Let me know  how it went - or find me on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *