This cake isn’t what I planned. Not even at all. I had originally planned to do something with balloons and pennants. I’m sure it would’ve been a fun cake, but it just wasn’t inspiring me. My cake sat frosted with a crumb-coat all day, waiting for me to dress it, but I just wasn’t excited about it. I put it in the refrigerator, and I went to bed.
Then, inspiration struck. I wanted to make my heart cake into two halves, two characters, that loved each other. I wanted something unexpected, though. After all, that’s how most relationships are – unexpected and unique. For some reason, I decided I wanted a cactus cake. But what character could hug a cactus? One that’s just as prickly, of course. Which is obviously a hedgehog. <3
They’re different in every way, but perfectly suited to each other. I felt like I was making a cake of the Hubster and I. No wonder I finally felt inspired. I was so inspired, in fact, that I got out of bed and worked on the cake until 2am. Totally worth it.
Since I already had my cake crumb-coated, I mark the center of the cake, dividing the top into halves to make decorating easier. Next, I used a small heart-shaped cookie cutter to mark a heart on the centerline of the cake. I set the heart slightly higher than center, since this will be the cactus and hedgehog’s faces.
Before decorating the cake, use plain white buttercream to make dozens of spines for the cactus. I used an Ateco #3 writing tip, and piped the spines onto parchment paper on a metal baking sheet. Each spine is about one half inch long. Don’t make the spines too long, or they will droop. Make plenty, these are delicate and will break easily, so extras are important. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for at least 30 minutes, but the longer, the better.
While the spines chill, mix up your frosting colors. I used white, green, and black frostings for the cactus and hedgehog, and I also made some pink frosting that I used on the sides of the cake.
Using some of your green frosting, fill half of the marked heart on top of the cake. Fill the other half with white frosting. You don’t have to stay perfectly inside the heart, but it helps to maintain the shape for guidance later. You also don’t have to make the frosting perfectly smooth, because neither cacti or hedgehogs are perfectly smooth. 😉
Once your heart is filled in, use a large French tip to pipe in lines for the cactus on half of the cake, following the heart shape.
While the frosting is still soft, place the frozen buttercream spines all over the cactus. I did little groupings of two or three, but you can place them any which way you like.
At this point, I drew the faces onto the cake using black frosting, giving them rosy little cheeks with heart-shaped quins. I chose to skip a nose on the cactus, to get a more Kawaii look, but the hedgie needs his sweet little black button nose.
Next, it’s time for the hedgehog’s quills! I filled a pastry bag with half black, half white frosting to create a bicolored effect. Now, just pipe the quills onto the cake using an Ateco #5 writing tip. You can use a larger or smaller tip, if you like, or even a grass tip. I like the size of the #5 tip in contrast to the cactus and its spines.
For a finishing touch, I added sweet little cacti around the base of the cake, using the same green frosting and large French tip, and topping them off with more sweet pink heart sprinkles.
You can decorate the sides of the cake any way you like – bringing the cactus and hedgehog all the way down, or keeping it simple with plain, smooth sides. I chose to smear both pink and white frosting along the sides of the cake and then pull a small offset spatula through the frosting to create texture. I think the splashes of pink add just the right amount of extra color to the cake.
I’m pretty obsessed with this cake, you guys, I won’t lie. It turned out just as I hoped it would, and maybe even cuter! And it perfectly represents the Hubster and I – we are very different people, with so much in common to share. <3
Happy Valentine’s Day, friends!