This is the how to of my son’s Hunting Camo Birthday Cake. He turned 13 a couple weeks ago and had a party for him last weekend. He had asked me if I could do a hunting camo cake for him. There are some slight differences in military camo and hunting camo which is why I call it a hunting camo cake instead. I thought about using shapes in the camo colors but I wanted to be able to smooth out the icing. The last time I tried the paper towel technique to flatten my frosting, it didn’t quite work out so well. So when I was looking up camo cake ideas, I decided to use what some people call the water color technique instead.
What you need
First you need to start out with white icing or frosting. You can make your own or use store bought. It doesn’t matter which. I ended up using store bought icing. I got 4 tubs/jars of icing. The cake I made did have a lot of layers (I made six 9 inch round cakes and used all of them to make a 6 layer cake). You are going to need green coloring (obviously) and you are also going to need a couple shades of brown. Getting brown might be an issue with standard food coloring so I used cocoa powder. The darker shade of green was made with just the green coloring. The second lighter shade of green was created with green coloring and a little cocoa powder.
For the brown and tan colors, I only used cocoa powder in the icing to get those colors. Keep in mind that the cocoa powder will change the flavor of your icing when you use it. I am pretty sure Wilton sells all kind of colored food coloring if you don’t want to change the flavor of your icing. The reason I used cocoa powder was because it was less coloring I had to mess with. Plus if I used chocolate icing, it wouldn’t be very easy to get a lighter tan color with it. I will say that with the cocoa powder, it still didn’t have a strong chocolate flavor. It was actually more like a hot cocoa flavor which was pretty good actually. And it blended really well with the vanilla flavor of the rest of the icing.
Building your layered cake and the crumb layer
If you choose to make a layered cake, you definitely want to shave off the top part of each cake before stacking. You don’t have to take much off the top, just make it as even as possible. Then stack them on top of each other. Depending on the size of your cake layers and how many you use, you might want to drive a dowel through the middle of it just in case the layers slide. Since you did some cutting on the cakes, you may end up with some loose crumbs. I didn’t cut any on the top layer. I wanted to avoid as many crumbs as possible. That’s why my cake looks like it has a slight dome on top of it. All the loose crumbs were on the inside of each layer.
But I still did a crumb layer of icing anyway. I used the green icing that I had the most of and covered the cake with a thin layer of icing. After the icing sets a bit, any loose crumbs shouldn’t end up all over your cake while decorating.
The water color technique
When you are ready, pipe on globs of the colored icing. You want to alternate colors too. You should probably want to make sure that every space is covered for better results and make sure the globs are pretty thick. Keep in mind that the colors you use more of, the more that color will be dominate on the cake. I thought I wanted more green than browns but I wish I had a little more brown (especially on the top) because my cake looked like it could have used a little more browns when I was finished. It could have also been the shades of colors that I achieved when mixing colors too. Either way, I was pretty happy with how it turned out.
Before you smooth the frosting, your cake will look like a hot mess. It was funny because at before I started smoothing it out my son came in the kitchen. He looked at his cake and gave me a look like, “If that’s how my cake is going to look, please don’t make me another.” He didn’t actually say anything though.
Smoothing the icing
To smooth out the icing, you need a flat object preferably the size of the cake. You could use the flat unsharp side of a knife or you can use a ruler. I used a ruler. Don’t worry guys, this ruler has been bought and used for my cake decorating only. I actually use it quite often and it’s washed and put back with my cake decorating stuff when I am finished with it.
Using this technique is easier with a round cake which is why I made a round cake. It’s also easier to do if you have a cake turn table (I’m sure there is a better word for it). But all you have to do is place your ruler (or whatever you are using) against the side of your cake. Just right against it, don’t push it too far into the icing. Then hold and turn your cake. Keep turning your cake until all the icing is smooth. During this process, you may need to scrape off any icing that is on your ruler. Then you can do the top.
I used excess icing on cupcakes that I made. The icing colors still stood out individually when I swirled the icing on my cupcakes with a decorating bag. That way the icing didn’t go to waste.
Got to have a little hunter’s orange
I saved a little white icing/frosting and made a bright orange colored icing. With this icing, I piped a star boarder around the bottom and the top of the cake. Before I did that though, I carefully cleaned up any icing around the cake that was on the cake platter I used. I just wiped it off with a paper towel. Anything left over was covered by the orange border.
This is optional but I thought the cake would look better with a deer on it. My son actually asked if I would be able to put a deer head on top of his cake anyway. I am really terrible at drawing and writing with icing so I had the idea to make them with melting chocolate. I found a deer head silhouette that was free to print. With the one that I printed in a 5×7 format. The deer was a great size for the top of my 9 inch cake. I printed a slightly smaller copy as well.
I placed the printed sheets on a cookie sheet and placed non-stick parchment paper over them. Then I melted some bakers chocolate (I didn’t use much) and then spooned the chocolate into a decorating bag. I also used a writing decorating tip. Since the chocolate is melted, it’s going to immediately start coming out so you should cover the tip with your finger until you are ready.
I didn’t wait long to fill my decorating bag because I didn’t want the chocolate to harden. So it will be hot. Which means you should definitely use a decorating bag and not a regular plastic baggie. With the decorating bag, it wasn’t too hot to hold and I didn’t have to worry about it melting through the bag.
Tracing the deer
As soon as you start, the chocolate will start coming out so be sure to place the tip over what you are tracing before you begin. After you are finished tracing, you can fill it in. Once you are done, cover the tip with your finger before moving on to the next one. Place them in the refrigerator to harden. They should only take a few minutes to harden. I was basically working on one tray and when I was finished, I was able to take the ones out of the refrigerator. I just kept working like that until I was satisfied with how many I had. The first couple of them didn’t work out so well so if this is something new to you, don’t fret. It took me a few times before I got them to start to look right.
Parchment paper over wax paper
I just wanted to leave a quick note about this. I prefer using parchment paper over wax paper because I think parchment paper works better. With wax paper, I usually have to peel it off whatever I have on it. With parchment paper, I don’t have to do that. For example, with these deer, as soon as they hardened, the just slid off. It’s that easy with the parchment paper. And the paper can be used over and over again. I made 3 or 4 trays of chocolate deer and I didn’t have to replace the paper even once.
Placing the deer
I kept the deer in the refrigerator until about an hour before his party. I didn’t want to take the chance of the deer melting. The bigger one I placed on the top. Then I placed a few around the cake. I also put a little dollop of icing on the cake platter to keep them from sliding. Any extra chocolate deer I had, I just put on the plate for the kiddos to eat if they wanted one.