Blog Archive - November 1, 2011

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November 1, 2011 - Turkey Thanksgiving Cake
Click here for short instructions

Deciding a shape for this blog was pretty easy. Figuring out what a turkey actually looked like was a bit harder. They're pretty intricate animals! Hopefully you can use my research to your advantage. What do you think? Did I get close?

Turkey Thanksgiving Cake

To make this cake, you'll need a Cake-Shaping Strip (look here about how to make one), heavy-duty aluminum foil, wax paper, a sheet pan, prepared cake batter (see the Pumpkin-Apple-Cranberry recipe below or use about 1 box of cake mix), chocolate frosting (about 1 (16-oz.) container), white frosting (about 1 (16-oz.) container), a tablespoon of creamy peanut butter, a few pretzel sticks, 2 (12-oz.) bags of semisweet chocolate chips, red frosting, and a little orange food dye.

First, make a Cake-Shaping Strip as described here using six sushi-mat segments. Line a sheet pan with 2 sheets of aluminum foil. Shape the strip into a semi-turkey side-profile shape. As you can see below, my turkey shape didn't include the tail feathers or the legs, as those would be added later. I drew the turkey shape out, as I had a hard time envisioning what a turkey looked like. Make sure to exaggerate any spatial features, as they'll seem smaller after you unwrap and ice the cake.

Wrap the bottom foil sheets around the strip, tearing it where needed to wrap it. Slide extra small strips of foil under the strip and wrap those around where needed (if your original foil sheet didn't cover a portion of the cake). And push small loosely packed balls of foil along the bottom outer perimeter wherever you think that the batter might leak due (e.g., where you tore the foil). Essentially, just add foil however you need to fully wrap around the bottom of the strip.

Turkey Thanksgiving Cake

Now prepare your cake batter. You can make the batter using about one box of cake mix or you can use the recipe below. I loved this cake, though I'm not sure it went great with the chocolate frosting. So maybe just save this batter for your records and use a chocolate cake recipe.

Pumpkin-Apple-Cranberry Fall Cake
1 box yellow cake mix
1 (15-ounce) can of pumpkin
3 eggs
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
2 medium apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 cup cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional - for topping)
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar (optional - for topping)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a pan with cooking spray.

2. Mix together the cake mix, pumpkin, applesauce, oil, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.

3. Microwave the diced apples for about one minute or until soft.

4. Fold the apples and the cranberries into the batter.

5. Spread the batter into the prepared pan.

6. OPTIONALLY - sprinkle the walnuts and brown sugar over the batter (if you don't plan on decorating the cake).

7. Bake for about 40 minutes or until done.


After the cake is baked and cooled, carefully separate the strip from the cake. Insert a flat end of a table knife between the cake and strip to help the separation if that helps.

Turkey Thanksgiving Cake

Frost the head with white frosting and the beak with orange icing. Frost the neck with red frosting. (I bought a tube of red frosting for this, as I wanted a thick, boldly colored frosting.) Forst the rest of the bird with chocolate frosting. Then place a flat end of a table knife on the chocolate frosting and pull it upwards to get a feather-like appearance.

Fill a piping bag with the remaining chocolate frosting and use a basket-weaving tip. Pipe on both feathers using the chocolate frosting. Separate the remaining white icing into two portions. To one portion, add a tablespoon or so of creamy peanut butter to tint the frosting brown. Add both the white and peanut-butter frosting to piping bags. Pipe on feather decorations, as shown in the picture below.

Now let's prepare for the melted-chocolate portion of the project. Cut about 4 pretzel sticks in half. These will form the bottom of the turkey's feet. Set aside 4 other full pretzel sticks (for the turkey's legs and a couple extra just in case). Place a large sheet of wax paper on a cookie sheet and a small sheet of wax paper on a plate.

We're ready for the chocolate! Pour the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave the chocolate chips in 30-second intervals (stirring it in between) until smooth and melted. Fully dip the full and partial pretzel sticks in the chocolate, and place them on the small sheet of wax paper.

Then pour the remaining chocolate onto the large sheet, and spread it out so that it is even and about 1/2-1 centimeter thick. Refrigerate the pretzels and chocolate sheet.

When the chocolate sheet is hard, cut out about 12 turkey tail feathers. (Save the remaining chocolate.) Freeze the feathers. When the feathers are hard again, add them to the bird! Here's how I did it: I took about three feathers and stuck them into the cake. I moved a little further back, and stuck another four into the cake. Then I used a little more melted chocolate to combine three more feathers at the base, and stuck these feathers (using the chocolate frosting on the bird) to the back of the bird. Be careful sticking feathers into the bird though! Putting the feathers too close together may cut your cake! Should you get into any problems, just repair the cake with more chocolate icing or melted chocolate. Use the white and peanut-butter frosting in the piping bags to add some tail-feather decorations.

Back to the turkey legs. Re-melt some of the chocolate that you saved from the chocolate sheet. Then add a little chocolate to combine the chocolate pretzel sticks to look like turkey legs. (See below.) Freeze the turkey legs again. Then stick the legs into the cake. Take a little piece of leftover chocolate (or frosting) and make the turkey's eye. Well that was a lot of instructions, but what a cute cake!

Turkey Thanksgiving Cake
Turkey Thanksgiving Cake

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