When my father-in-law’s birthday rolled around, my daughter decided that we needed to make him a Smiley Face cake. Then my husband dragged me out to watch Watchmen, and it was just doubly perfect! So whether you’re interested in retro sunshine, or are a sci-fi (excuse me, syfy) fan, this bright yellow shaped cake will bring a sure smile to your face. Smile to your face. Get it? Sorry. I told you my three year old helped me make it.
The first step is to create any sized round shaped cake of your choosing. The great thing about this cake is that it’s mostly foolproof. There’s nothing to trim, so any cake flavor will work just fine. We slathered it with buttercream that was colored with equal parts Wilton Lemon Yellow and Golden Yellow. The two yellows together created the perfect sunshine gold needed for our bright smiley face. I used a paper towel and an old credit card to smooth the buttercream to a lovely shiny finish (note to self: purchase paper towels that don’t have patterns on them), added black fondant to create the eyes and mouth, and we ended up with a cool cake that was surprisingly easy to make.
Sidenote: This is what happens when you don’t wear gloves when coloring fondant. You have been properly warned.
Whip up a batch of your favorite chocolate buttercream. I chose a chocolate buttercream because a true red is a very difficult color to achieve in the world of cakes. If you start with white buttercream, the best you will likely achieve is a dark pink. I do recommend avoiding a dark chocolate buttercream because if the chocolate is too dark, it will mask the red food coloring.
Before coloring your buttercream red, set aside one cup to be used for the grey pieces.
Add red food coloring to the buttercream until you’re satisfied with the color. Colors often deepen after they’ve “rested” for a bit, but I wanted a deep red and used a full 1 oz pot of Wilton’s “No Taste” Red
Add black food coloring to the buttercream frosting you set aside until you achieve the desired color.
To make visible joints, frost and smooth all pieces individually. If you’ve never “smoothed” buttercream, check out this video tutorial. If you’re frosting with a pastry bag, you probably won’t need a crumb coat, but if you’re frosting with a knife, your life will be much easier if you crumb coat the cake.
Place all pieces together on a cakeboard, covered cutting board, or gigantic flat serving platter (yeah, I don’t have one of those, either).
Decorate with assorted candies, gumdrop decorations, sugar decorations, children’s cereals, mini-marshmallows, etc.
Download a PDF file of the Robot Cake cutting pattern.
Download the Red Robot Cake Pattern (the pattern is a .PDF file which requires the free Adobe Acrobat Reader). The Red Robot Cake is made from two square cake layers (of equal size) and is very simple to cut out.
The robot’s oscilloscope was made using rolled gumdrops (see the gumdrop decoration tutorial. To make the basic shape, I used two square fondant/cookie cutters. I cut out a black square with the largest cutter and then cut a hole out of the black square with the smaller cutter. I also cut out a green square with the smaller cutter. I placed the small green square in the hole in the black square. Voilà!
I rounded the corners of the gumdrop screen just by smooshing it about with my fingers — it’s a bit more instinct than science.
I rolled out a bit of black gumdrop (like rolling out a clay snake) for the “squiggle” line and chopped up bits of gumdrop for the knobs.
Robot Head Closeup
Rivets made of children cereals (with a dab of gel icing in the center), jelly beans as “flashy lights”, a mini-marshmallow as the goofy tooth, and marshmallows cut in half and placed on two jumbo gumdrops for the eyes.
Initially, I placed two black jumbo gumdrops on the cake for eyes and I loved how they looked, but… I really wanted blue eyes. But but but… no blue gumdrops.
Dyeing a gumdrop with food coloring.
OTOH, I did have white gumdrops and blue food coloring. I plopped a white gumdrop on top of a fondant/cookie cutter and started dripping dye on the gumdrop. It worked like a charm — it was a bit dark, so I blotted it with paper towel and I had perfectly blue gumdrop eyes. You might wish to wear latex gloves during this process.
I didn’t wear gloves and attended a meeting with lovely blue fingernails. Your call.
Simplify This Cake
If you’re in a rush, here are a couple of simplifications to speed up the Robot Cake Process:
Instead of making gumdrop decorations, use a variety of candies, breakfast cereals, and cookies.
Instead of frosting each body piece individually (for visible joints), attach pieces with a small dab of frosting and then frost all pieces at once (this saves a lot of time… and irritation).