(Cute) Skull Cake

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I have a co-worker who recently achieved her master’s degree. It sounded like a rough final month and lots of group projects (no one likes group projects) so she was relieved when it was coming to an end. A few of us had gone out to lunch during the week before she was done with school and she confided to us that she likes things with skulls on them – “but only CUTE skulls,” she says. Coincidentally, I had just seen a recent post on Wilton’s facebook page advertising their 3-D Skull cake pan. Since I love all things Halloween and definitely was interested in buying that pan… I bought it! But when she mentioned her interest in skulls, it gave me the perfect excuse to use it! A graduation skull cake would be PERFECT for her!

How cute are the little skulls on the sides of this pan?

The graduation girl also has a thing for Pillsbury’s Funfetti cake mix. I used about 1 3/4 packages of cake batter in the skull pan and then 1 1/4 packages of batter in the 10 in. round cake pan. That’s 3 boxes of cake mix! I baked both pans separately at 325 degrees for an hour.

After slicing down the “crowns” of extra cake on the skull cakes, I fused them together with some vanilla buttercream. I used some of the cake scraps to try and fill in the deeper parts of the skull in an effort to create a “cuter” shaped skull head. I also shaved down those severely sharp cheekbones!

At this point, it was getting late and my boyfriend was taking orders from me on frosting and putting together candy necklaces. Sadly, I forgot to keep taking photos (sorry). The fondant was rolled and put on the skull head and decorating commenced. But after the decorating was completed, I took this photo of our skull creation while he sat in the fridge. How funny it was to open the fridge the next morning when things are still drowsy and be surprised by our Jewish friend. We referred to him as a “he” and a Jewish “he” at that, since he was sporting a green yamaka (the base of a graduation mortar board). Coincidentally, it was Rosh Hashanah.

Before we went to bed, I created the mortar board and “cute” bow (and backup bow just in case) to dry overnight.

This fall has been unseasonably warm and dreadfully humid. The “accessories” did not dry hard overnight, but I had no choice but to continue with them. I brought everything into work and during that 30 minute drive, the thick humidity turned the skull’s fondant glossy and sleek… which wasn’t a bad thing at all as it made the skull look steamed (like the professionals do). However, the skull was also now slippery and the bow and hat began sliding down the side of the cake head. So there I was in the main kitchen at work, desperately trying to stick these damn accessories on the skull with extra frosting when a cake decorating angel came by. There’s a guy at work who also does cakes and he saved the day by breaking off reeds from nearby reed diffusers to stick through the accessories and into skull so they were securely in place. Giant toothpicks, if you will. I later thanked him by sending him a coupon to Michaels so he could get his own skull cake pan since he was admiring it so much.

With accessories and final “congrats” quickly written out on the bottom, she was ready for presentation (the bow switched her from a “he” to a “she,” of course). I decided to surprise our graduate at the beginning of a small meeting so as to not to overwhelm and then brought in other people to share in the cake. We had a quite a group, but did not need to cut into the skull so the graduate was able to take the head home with her.

And as for the surprise… she was SO surprised! Her face turned red and eyes teared up a little while she stared at the cake, then started laughing. That’s the best thing about making cakes for people. They bring so much joy and delight, you can’t help but to feel great. Being able to provide that much happiness is addicting too. I hope I can continue to create cakes like this for the people in my life. Happy graduation, KL, and enjoy the extra time now that school is done!

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