I had the luxury of having the apartment to myself yesterday night, so I thought I'd try to make a cake. Since P likes red velvet cake and (I think) dinosaurs, I bought a dinosaur cake pan from Wilton. Here's what I did:
Mix ingredients into a large bowl:
-3 cups all purpose flour, sifted
-1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
-1.5 teaspoon of baking soda
-1.5 teaspoon of baking powder
-1.5 teaspoon of salt
-1 cup coffee
-2 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
-1.5 cups sugar
-1 cup vegetable oil
-1 cup buttermilk
-3 teaspoon vanilla extract
-red food coloring (power or liquid)
Bake at 350F until toothpick comes out clean.
When done, use a knife to level the top of the cake. Do this quickly because you want to tap cake out before it cools.
Tap cake out onto a piece of corrugated cardboard wrapped with aluminum foil with a dollop of frosting in the middle to act as a glue. This is so sturdy that it's a breeze to transport even without a box. Let cool before moving on to the next step. You can even put the cake in the freezer for a couple of minutes. (Unless you share the freezer with 127369 other people, and there's no space there.)
This part is the hardest: Using a spatula, coat the sides and top of the cake with cream cheese frosting. (I used store-bought frosting.) Let sit >1h in the fridge to harden. This is called crumb coating, and helps seals in the moisture of the cake so it keeps better.
Next, I used store-bought black icing in a tube to pipe the outline of the dinosaur. Let sit in the fridge to harden (for as long as you have time for). I did not do this because I was eager to color my cake!
Next, I used vanilla buttercream icing with food coloring to decorate the cake. I think it goes well with the cream cheese frosting and red velvet cake. Of course, the type and color of icing will be up to you. Put your icing in a piping bag with an adapter and star-shaped tip, and with a 90degree angle, color the cake star-by-star. The smaller the star, the easier to color small areas and the nicer it looks.
The finishing touches: A border with a leaf-tip pipped in a overlapping wave-life pattern, and a candle.
That's it! Baking the cake took 1h, crumb coating took 1.5h including setting time, and decorating it took 0.5h. I have an idea on what to try when I next get the apartment to myself (or get a studio, whichever comes first). Hint: it's a kind of cake, but it's savory and contains the meat of a crustacean.