Cute Owl Birthday Cake

My birthday was this past Saturday. I love birthdays. I love anyone’s birthday, but I’m not gonna lie…I love mine the most! Who doesn’t love their own birthday best?! 😉

I had planned to have a very laid back birthday this year, i.e. no cake. I thought a few simple, but delicious cupcakes would suit me fine. But my sister had other plans. As sisters, especially older sisters, often do, she coerced me, in her own loving, but big sisterly way, into making a cake this year after all. She knew I’d be disappointed if I didn’t have one. She knows me oh so well. 🙂 She did the right thing. She even helped me find inspiration by having a little Q&A session via Yahoo Messenger (since we live thousands of miles from each other :(), then bombarded me with pictures of beautiful cakes in the colors I had chosen (turquoise and yellow). That did it. I was hooked…my brain going a million miles an hour about what I could do. As our little chat came to an end, with an idea firmly entrenched in my mind, it struck me that I wanted an owl on my cake this year. I must have an owl. I would have an owl. And so I did.

And my favorite birthday cake ever was born. Much as it pains me to admit it, I even love it more than my Harry Potter cake. *gasp* I feel like a traitor…but that’s just my deep seated HP love. As far as cakes, not subjects, go, this is definitely my favorite one so far. Although it doesn’t look like it, the cake is actually quite small. The bottom tier was only seven inches square, the middle five inches, and the itty bitty top tier was only two and a half inches square! Of course that little tier was my own piece of the cake. Of course.

The fat, happy little fondant owl is my favorite part (find my tutorial for making this owl here). He took up the majority of work, but this cake was relatively simple, and even he came together in no time. I love him. Truly. I do. He’s just so sweet (no pun intended) and fat! I love a cute, fat little owl! I perched him slightly off center on my tiny top tier, so that I could add a single tall, white candle to the cake. I didn’t take any pictures, but it was quite pretty.

On a whim, I added sweet flowers to the owl’s back. I love the end result. He’s so much more interesting sprinkled with tiny blossoms, and he ties in with the rest of the cake beautifully! I want this owl as a doll. I must find him…he’s out there and he needs a good home!

Here’s a shot of the inside of the cake. I’ve been seeing vertical cake layers all over the place lately and just had to try my hand at them. To be honest, I didn’t see what the big deal was…until I cut into my own cake. It really is beautiful and surprising! Hearing all the ooh-ing and ahh-ing made the extra (yet surprisingly still easy) work worth it! Want to make your own vertical layer cake? I’ll show you how in my next post! 🙂 I stuck with a basic, but the best ever, yellow cake (recipe below) and tinted half of the batter turquoise for the layers. This is my favorite yellow cake recipe and is absolutely perfect for birthdays!

I love everything about this cake. Everything from the tip of the little owl ears to the very bottom trim! The colors were absolutely exactly what I wanted, and it was simple and clean looking, while still achieving a girly, pretty look. By using the cutters from my sugar flowers kit, I was able to create a more modern, minimalistic look with very little effort. Plus, keeping things predominantly fondant-free also streamlined the workload. I hope everyone’s weekend was as wonderful as mine, and if you make this cake…be sure to have a slice for breakfast! 😉 Enjoy!

Yellow Layer Cake
Makes 2 8- or 9-inch round layers (I used 2 8-inch square cake pans)

4 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature (soy, almond, or rice milk work well too)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 16 pieces (margarine can be substituted)

FOR THE (the best ever) FROSTING
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 lb. (16 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Food coloring (optional)

To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 8- or 9-inch cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment, and set aside.

In a large measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, milk, and vanilla extract; set aside.

In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the butter one piece at a time, mixing until the dough comes together and looks sandy.

Add about 1 cup of the egg mixture and mix on low speed until incorporated, then increase to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy. Slowly add the remaining egg mixture, with the mixer on low speed, until incorporated. Scrape the bowl, if necessary, then increase speed to medium-high and beat for about 20 seconds. The batter will just barely look a little curdled.

Divide that batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for 23-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting: In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the butter for about 30 seconds. Beat in the sugar and salt until combined. Add 1 tablespoon heavy cream and whisk on high for 3 to 4 minutes, until light and fluffy. If the frosting is too thick, add more cream, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.

Stir in the vanilla and food coloring.

Cake adapted from Baking Illustrated, Frosting by Darla

P.S. Check out these absolutely GORGEOUS cupcake stands that the hubster had custom made for me…he did GREAT! 🙂 [UPDATE: The cupcake stands are from Whitney Smith Pottery, she has tons of gorgeous stuff in her etsy store, including full size cake stands.]

Leave a comment


  1. Fiona says

    Oh, he’s adorable!!!! I love this cake, Darla. (the HP one’s gorgeous too) I’m inspired to go & make a happy-getting-your-first-exam-out-of-the-way cake for my daughter…with an owl for wisdom, obviously.

  2. rachel says

    looove the cakestands!! what a good hubby! think you’ve picked a winner there hehe, gorgeous cake btw, egarly awaiting your next post to see how to make the layers!

  3. Dori says

    Oh my goodness…the owl! Can’t stand the cuteness! The cake is gorgeous.

    Happy Birthday, Darla! Your big sister sounds a lot like my big sister…all these years and she’s still looking out for me. 🙂

    Very much looking forward to the vertical layers instructions…

  4. says

    Happy Birthday!!
    I love your cake, the owl is just so perfect!
    And those cupcake stands… what can I say about the cupcake stands? I expect we’ll be seeing a lot of them in the future!

  5. linda says

    kudos on the cake…simply beautiful! love it!
    h a p p y b i r t h d a y !!
    could you please share where your h had the stands custom made…would love to know…thanks!

  6. Sarah says

    Happy Birthday! Your cake is GORGEOUS!!! The owl is adorable! Now I wonder what I was going to do for MY birthday… (it’s the same day as Harry Potter’s! :D)

  7. Cindy says

    My older girls asked me last night how I was doing. Since I’d just be looking at, my answer was, “I want some cake!!!” and Now you’ve given me the recipe 🙂 I LOVE yellow cake. Yours sounds delish and your birthday cake is sooo sweet. Happy birthday.

  8. Emily says

    This is just too dang cute!! I love how your creativity can make just about anything in fondant! I live in a high altitude area and all my cakes are coming out dry and crumbly 🙁 Do you know how to fix this?

    • says

      Hi Emily, there’s a couple of fixes for dry cakes. One easy fix is to brush the entire cake with simple syrup. Not only does the syrup add moisture to the cake, but it also helps lock moisture in. Another fix is to try adding a little more butter or sugar, not eggs. Butter and sugar both add liquid to the cake, while eggs provide structure (along with flour). You could try adding about 1/4 cup more sugar or butter and see if that helps. Also, if you aren’t going to frost your cake right away, i recommend wrapping them in plastic wrap and freezing them, rather than refrigerating them. Freezing cake quickly locks moisture in. One more solution might be to try replacing 1 or 2 of the eggs with apple sauce. Apple sauce still provides some structure to cake, while also providing moisture. 1/4 cup of applesauce is equal to 1 egg. I hope this is helpful!

  9. says

    Oh hey you have the same birthday as me! I dont meet many people born on the same day – seems to be a rare one.

    Such a cute cake – that owl is gorgeous 😀

  10. says

    Happy birthday! I hope you had a wonderful day.
    I love owls and the inside of your cake is so amazing looking. Lovely. Brought big smiles to my face.
    I’ve seen those cake stands on Etsy. They are super cool.

    • says

      Hi Alice, Sorry for the late reply, I missed your comment until just now. 🙁 For my little owl, I shaped the light turquoise fondant (looks almost white) into a smooth egg shape. Next, I shaped a piece of darker turquoise fondant into a sort of hooded cape with the pointed ears on top and draped it over the egg shape. I hope the makes sense…it’s sometimes very hard to put into words how to do something. The eyes are simply two small white rounds of fondant, slightly flattened and “glued” on with tiny daps of water. Similarly, the beak is just a small piece of yellow fondant that I shaped into a raindrop shape then slightly flattened before “gluing” it on.

      I hope this is helpful. I was kicking myself after I made him that I hadn’t photographed the process. but sometimes you get so caught up in what your doing that you forget! I may post an owl tutorial in a few weeks. i’ll keep you posted! 🙂

  11. says

    What an awesome hubby! I have to admit, until I saw the pic of the cupcake stands, I kept thinking the little yellow bird was some kind of sauce you had to serve with the cake! lol

  12. says

    Hey there! Just came across your blog. I am a wedding blogger and this cake was too darling and just what I was looking for. I used your image {hope you don’t mind} and I put a link of your site with the image for the source. I am looking forward to seeing more of your work!

    It’s amazing!!!
    Have A great night!

  13. jacqueline says

    Hello Darla,
    Love love your website, thanks for sharing. I made this cake a bunch of times and the flavor is super yummy but is always dry. Your pictures of the inside look super moist. What can I be doing wrong? Please help, I want to my this cake for my daughter birthday in a few weeks.
    Thanks 🙂