My Cake Decorating Gallery

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Jackson's Very Hungry Caterpillar Cake!

My nephew Jackson was turning 1 .. and since he hasn't quite developed a long list of hobbies or favorites, I chose his mom's favorite childhood book as the theme of his birthday cake: The Very Hungry Caterpillar!

I personally wasn't familiar with the book but after finding out about it, I realized it was very cute and quite a popular classic children's book! The story is about a little caterpillar who is born and eats through all sorts of foods during the week, and then goes to sleep into a cocoon and emerges a lovely butterfly.

The cake features colorful swirls and polka dots, much like the actual coloring of the book, with a big caterpillar winding along.

I tried to make everything look like it was from the book.

I used Mousseline buttercream (From Rose's "The Cake Bible") .. and since it took three full batches of that, I had to make another double batch of regular decorator's buttercream for the decorations.
The filling was mousseline with raspberry preserves.
The smash cake, which was especially for Jackson to get messy with, featured the butterfly which closes out the cute story, and similar polka dot borders and swirling sides.

Jackson and I, Auntie Anne, pose in front of his cake!

This was a very fun cake to make and I enjoyed every bit of giving Jackson his first taste of sugar. We had a great time at the party!!


  1. those are some great cakes! my daughter (whom I am sure you will meet some day) loved the very hungry caterpillar when she was one.

    welcome to the MFLB

  2. I love decorating cakes and love your photo gallery. I found you when I googled hungry caterpiller cakes. I am working on ideas for a cake job I have for the weekend. I love everything about your hungry caterpiller and butterfly cake!
    I also have a blog, but mostly about mothering my three lovely boys. I have posted a few cakes that I have done since starting my blog earlier this year.

  3. Your cakes are lovely, and I am hoping you can answer some questions for me, since I am hoping to make a similar "very hungry butterfly" cake next weekend!

    I have spent the past couple of days drawing and coloring the butterfly from The Very Hungry Caterpillar in order to get a feel for the design and colors used in the book. I had planned to use a friend's butterfly-shaped pan, but she brought it over to me today and it doesn't seem like I'll be able to get quite the look I want. So, I was happy to find your blog and see how you decorated a round cake with the butterfly on top. I guess my primary questions are:

    1) What size cake pans did you use for the caterpillar and butterfly cakes? (I'm hoping to feed about 20 toddlers and parents. I am open to the idea of making cupcakes in case we run out of cake, too.)

    2) How many layers did you use?

    3) Do you have a favorite frosting recipe? Most likely I will make a buttercream frosting, but if you've tried other recipes and had success, I'm open to suggestions.

    4) One last frosting question, or series of questions: Do you frost the cake with a crumb coat before the "real" frosting? Do you recommend chilling the various colors of frosting in the refrigerator until you need them? And finally -- did you have a separate pastry bag for each color, or did you re-use the bags? I'm thinking I might need to buy some disposable bags because I only have three pastry bags.

    Thank you for any advice you can share!

  4. Hi Anne!
    Thanks for checking out my blog. I am sure your caterpillar cake will be great! I am sorry for the delay in my reply and hopefully it is not too late. Here are my answers to your questions below-

    1) I am not 100% sure which size cake pan I used but I think it was probably a 10" x 3" pan - I made two 10" cakes that were about 2-3 inches tall so that makes for a tall cake as shown in the pictures. According to my chart, a 10x3" double layer cake feeds 35 people. I always round that down to account for some hearty servings (as compared to wedding size tiny servings). I'd rather have lots of leftover cake than not enough. I'm sure that will be enough if your amount of people is 20 with some toddlers in there. I used cake mixes for the cake part as I often do so that I can focus my time on decorating so each 10x3 layer requires 1.5 boxes of cake mix. Fill the pans 2/3 high and cook 45-50minutes at 350 and it should be close by then. The small smash cake was a 6" inch pan, it had 2 layers. I have a 4 or 5in tall 6" pan so I just make one cake in there and split it

    2) Two layers of cake per each finished cake.

    3) The link above to the mousseline is good but it's more work. A good easy decorator's icing is half butter, half shortening, as noted in the "Wiltons Buttercream Frosting" link under "Cakes and Cake Deco" on the left. I used store bought colored icing for some of the vivid colors on the caterpillar cake, especially red and purple which are hard to get from white

    4) Always crumb coat first and if you're using the wilton's recipe or other american buttercream, let it sit for 25 min or so to "crust" (when you touch it, it is no longer tacky). Then apply your final layer and no crumbs should show up. All of your frosting should be room temperature, it becomes solid when chilled and that is a major pain. If you make frosting so far in advance and you chill it, give it a full day or overnight to come to room temp, otherwise it will be chunky/annoying. Running it through your mixer to smooth it out might help, but I try to make my frosting right before I need it and keep all the butter at room temp far in advance in preparation to make frosting. These frostings can both sit out for a few days so do not worry about refrigeration/safety. I used several pastry bags, one for each color. I used a "coupler" at the end of my bags for colors that I planned on using different sized tips-- if you don't have a coupler, then you need separate bags for each tip also, which adds up. Rarely I use paper/folded bags but I often use disposable plastic bags. A ziploc bag can work in a pinch but those tend to bust open for me and cause more annoyance and waste more time, however for some quick, small details, it works.

    Hope this helps!