With Ann Reardon

1st Birthday Cake – PINK Birdies – How to decorate a tiered cake

birdie birthday cake

  • A large lump of PINK fondant sat on my bench top waiting to be rolled –  pink looks very foreign in our house.  This tiered birdie cake is for a little girl’s 1st birthday cake.  Making a tiered cake is a fair bit more involved than a single layer so here is a walk-through of what you’ll need to do:

1. Things to get for Tiered Birdie Cake:

fondant and gel colours
cake boards
ingredients for ganache, simple syrup and cakes (recipes are further down in this post)
cake tins – can be hired
lazy susan or a cake decorators turn table
long serrated knife to cut cake layers
palette knife to spread ganache
rolling pin
fondant smoother – essential piece of equipment should be at cake decorating shops
icing sugar / cornflour to put on bench when rolling fondant
cake pop sticks for the birdies legs

Up to three weeks ahead:
* Buy fondant

* Make fondant decorations (you can add xanthum gum to fondant to help it set hard when making decorations if you are doing it at the last minute).  I used cake pop sticks for the birdies legs, note how they are much longer than needed so that they can push into the cake.  If you are new to fondant read fondant basics.
birdie first birthday fondant details

Early The Day before:
make ganache to cover the cake (scroll down for recipes)
make fillings for between layers
make simple syrup (scroll down for recipes)
make the cakes (scroll down for recipes)

The Evening Beforefirst birthday ganache cakeCut your cakes into equal layers.  Place your on cake boards, lightly squirt with simple syrup (you will not need all of it, store the rest for later).  The simple syrup helps keep the cake really moist.  Fill between the layers and cover cakes with ganache.

tiered first birthday cake covered in ganache

Tip to get your ganache sides straight try using a clean right angled ruler.  Place one side flat on the lazy susan and the other against the side of the cake board and spin the lazy susan around.

first birthday cake idea birdie

Loosely drape in glad wrap and leave on the bench overnight or at least for an hour to firm up. If you put it in the fridge it will firm up faster but when you cover it in fondant it will sweat making it harder to smooth.

Late the night before or on the morning of the party

Cover both cakes in fondant and smooth.  Now this is usually relatively simple but I was using a different brand of fondant to normal and really struggled to get it from bench to cake without it tearing. If you have never used fondant before – see this post for a review of 8 types of fondant.

Once the base layer is covered insert 5 dowels into the cake and mark where they are at the top of the cake.  Remove and cut them all to the shortest length (this ensures your second tier is straight).  Reinsert into the cake.

tiered dowel caketiered firstt birthday cakePlace the second layer on top of the first using the clean palette knife to help you.

fist birthday birdie cakeAround the base of each layer you may like to add some contrasting fondant – either a long strip as is shown here on the base layer or a long rolled piece as used on the top layer.  Alternatively you could use a ribbon.  This hides any imperfections in the fondant around the base of your cake.

birdie birthday cakeThen add the rest of your decorations and you are done.

birdie cake

White chocolate ganache recipe:
1125g (39.68 ounces) white chocolate chopped
375g (13.23 ounces) or 1 1/2 cups cream (35% fat)

Heat cream to boiling and then pour over the chocolate.  Leave to sit for a minute and then stir.  If the chocolate is not completely melted you can microwave for 10 second bursts until it is smooth.  Set aside to cool completely.  Just before using beat using electric mixers.  Once whipped this makes 9 cups of frosting.

Raspberry Ganache Recipe

300g (10.58 ounces) or 2 cups plus 2 Tbsp frozen raspberries
300g (10.58 ounces) or 1 1/4 cup cream (35% fat)
1125g (39.68 ounces) White chocolate chopped

Place chopped chocolate in a bowl.
Heat raspberries and cream until raspberries have fallen apart.
Push through a sieve so that you do not have any seeds.
Put the strained cream mixture back in the saucepan and reheat.  Boil and allow some of the liquid to evaporate away.

Measure 375ml of hot cream mixture and pour over the chocolate. Allow to sit for a minute and then stir until smooth. If the chocolate is not completely melted you can microwave for 10 second bursts until it is smooth.  Set aside to cool completely.  Just before using it, beat it using electric mixers.  Once whipped this makes 9 cups of frosting.

Simple syrup recipe
100g (3.53 ounces) or 1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar (caster or super fine)
100mL (3.38 fluid ounces) or 1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp water
Optional – 1 tablespoon of liqueur / vanilla
Heat sugar and water stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Continue to heat until makes a syrup (approx 104ºC or 220ºF).
Remove from heat, allow to cool completely and put into squeezy bottle.

Chocolate cake recipe can be found here

Vanilla Cake Recipe
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup or 324g (11.43 ounces) sugar (caster or super fine)
2 Tablespoons vanilla
1 cup or 184g (6.49 ounces) oil or 1 cup or 220g (7.76 ounces) margarine
1 cup or 250mL (8.45 fluid ounces) milk
2 tsp vinegar
2 1/2 cups or 400g (14.11 ounces) flour (plain or all purpose)
3 tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to 180C (356 degrees Fahrenheit). Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix with an electric mixer until smooth and lighter in colour – approx 4 minutes on high. Pour into cake tin and bake in moderate oven until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Useful information:

How much fondant will you need to cover your cake?

round cakes: 
6in (15.24 centimetres) cake tin – 500g (17.64 ounces) fondant
7in (17.78 centimetres) cake tin – 500g (17.64 ounces) fondant
8in (20.32 centimetres) cake tin – 750g (26.46 ounces) fondant
9in (22.86 centimetres) cake tin – 1kg (2.2 pounds) fondant
10in (25.4 centimetres) cake tin – 1.25kg (2.76 pounds) fondant
11in (27.94 centimetres) cake tin – 1.5kg (3.31 pounds) fondant
12in (30.48 centimetres) cake tin – 1.75kg (3.86 pounds) fondant

square cakes:
6in (15.24 centimetres) cake tin – 500g (17.64 ounces) fondant
7in (17.78 centimetres) cake tin – 750g (26.46 ounces) fondant
8in (20.32 centimetres) cake tin – 1kg (2.2 pounds) fondant 
9in (22.86 centimetres) cake tin – 1.25kg (2.76 pounds) fondant 
10in (25.4 centimetres) cake tin – 1.5kg (3.31 pounds) fondant
11in (27.94 centimetres) cake tin – 1.75kg (3.86 pounds) fondant 
12in (30.48 centimetres) cake tin – 2kg (4.41 pounds) fondant

How much frosting will you need to cover your cake?  The amount of frosting needed can vary greatly depending on how thick a layer you want and how much you need to smooth out your cakes imperfections.  I would always rather make more and freeze the leftovers than be scrapping for bits of icing to smooth out a cake so these amounts are generous.

6in (15.24 centimetres) cake tin – 3 cups frosting
7in (17.78 centimetres) cake tin – 3 1/2 cups frosting
8in (20.32 centimetres) cake tin – 4 cups frosting
9in (22.86 centimetres) cake tin – 4 1/2 cups frosting
10in (25.4 centimetres) cake tin – 5 cups frosting
12in (30.48 centimetres) cake tin – 5 1/2 cupc frosting
14in (35.56 centimetres) cake tin – 7 1/2cups frosting
16in (40.64 centimetres) cake tin – 9 cups frosting

Inspiration for this cake came from images provided by the family and a beautiful cake designer emmas cakes


25 Comments View Comments

  1. اريد منك كيفية صنع الجيم بيست وعمل كيك اعراس

    • Admin HowToCookThat

      مرحبا تميم ، شكرا ل طلبك.

  2. Hi ann I am making this for my daughters first birthday this weekend. I just really need to know what size cake Tins you used? I’m using a 12″ on the bottom and a 9″ on top. How should I adapt this recipe? Would love a reply 🙂 so excited to try this.

    • Ann

      Hi Jemma, this one was so long ago, hence no video. I think I used a 9″ and a 6″ tin

  3. Beautiful work! Would you please clarify when you add the simple syrup to the cake? Does cake need to be warm or already cooled? Greatly appreciate it all your instructions! 🙂

    • Ann

      Hi CP add the simple syrup to the top of cooled cakes

  4. I was wondering what you used to make the bird and tree molds? Is there a specific brand or kit of cutters? Thank you!

    • Ann

      Hi Beth, I had a tear drop shape, heart shape cutter and used the end of a piping tip for round circles and hand cut the birds.

  5. i feel kind of special 🙂 even though it was not for me

    • Same here.

  6. This cake looks intricate and soooooooooooooooo cute!

    • Ann


  7. Hi ann just want to say LOVE your cakes recently started making cakes for people i made my daughters 3rd birthday cake
    Was very pleased apart from i struggled with the sponge being so light and soft the top tier was too heavy
    I think this recipe would be perfect just wondering what kind of vinegar it is you mean and does it have to be used thanks sara oh and also what milk?

    • Ann

      hi sara, looks lovely 😀 milk is fullcream milk, vinegar is white vinegar.

    • hi sara can you tell me where you got the toper for your cake i love it and with the name

      • Admin HowToCookThat

        Hi Christine, Ann made the toppers herself using fondant.

  8. Hey Ann
    I just love your website, planning to make first birthday cake for my son. i am too stressed about using fondant so might be sticking to buttercream decorations. could you please advise which colour to use for buttercream so that it comes in better colour. which company colour is the best. thank you for your help and great job with the recipes and videos

  9. Hi Ann,
    I was just wondering what size cake tins to use for the Vanilla cake recipe, and how long to leave it in the oven for.

  10. Hi Ann your cakes are amazing, i want to ask if i can layer a cake without using cake board or sticks in it?

    • ann

      Hi adwa, It depends on how big the cakes are – the bigger they are the heavier they are so the more likely it is to sink if you do not use that method. If you are making a smaller cake and using a lighter cake on top – ie not mud, you might get away without it.

  11. Love this! My daughters 9th birthday is looming and this would be just perfect.

    I’ve never covered a cake with fondant before. Is it easier to do a round or square cake?

    • Ann

      Hi Loren, start with round 😀

  12. Wow, that’s awesome, Ann! You put two layers of filling, did you? What did you use for the filling? You put syrup on each layer, do you? Thanks heaps! :o)

    • ann

      Hi Kim, Yes I had two layers of filling in this cake and used white chocolate ganache between the layers. Simple syrup goes on each layer of cake just a drizzle around the top.

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