I made this jungle animals cake for a 1-year old boy’s birthday. The party theme was centered around jungle animals and the mother requested me to design a cake to match the theme. She also had theme colors for the party, which were green and yellow, so I made sure to have those 2 colors as the main ones on the cake. She also requested that the birthday boy is represented with a monkey topper!
Making this cake was really fun and a real challenge too. Fun because I had the liberty to design the cake instead of my customer dictating the design to me. Challenge because I had this brave idea of making a 3D monkey swinging by its tail on a tree on top of the cake while blowing his birthday candle. And I wanted the monkey to be able to literally swing when rocked.
Jungle Animals Cake
Making a 3D monkey and hanging it onto a branch, though may sound like a simple idea, was on the contrary, quite tricky. The tail had to be strong enough to hold the weight of the monkey and its hands and feet also had to be positioned such that all looked natural when assembled.
I must admit, I spent a considerable amount of time trying to get that little fella’s hands, feet and tail in place. The rest of this jungle animals birthday cake decoration was pretty straight forward. Everything on the cake was handmade with fondant including the tree, which had wires for support and the animals had Styrofoam balls inside them as the base.
How to Make a Jungle Animals Cake
Main supplies for the jungle themed animals cake:
- Cake – this was a 3 tier cake measuring 6 inches, 9 inches and 12 inches in diameter. And each tier was 4 inches high. I cannot recall the cake recipes I used for each of the tiers, but they were all from my cake recipes collection here.
- Buttercream – Each tier of the cake was filled with buttercream. I also used buttercream to crumb coat each cake tier before covering them with fondant.
- Fondant – I used Satin Ice for the entire project. Some were ready to use colors namely pastel yellow, chocolate brown, yellow, orange, green, blue, white, pink, red and black. I also used food colors to tint white into navy blue (using Americolor Navy Blue ), light green (using Americolor Avocado ).
- Shortening and fondant glue – I used these interchangeably, shortening for smaller lighter fondant pieces and the glue for heavier ones.
- Gold Dust and lemon extract – I mixed these to form edible gold paint for the crown on the monkey.
- Green petal dust - I used this to give more depth to the tree trunks on the cake.
- Floral wire – These were to make the 3D trees on the cake, the monkey’s hands, legs and tail as well as the string on the balloon held by the elephant. I used 18 gauge for the trunk (about 3 for the trunk and used thinner gauge wires for the branches. I joined these wires to the 18 gauge wires with brown floral tape). As for the monkey and the balloon, I used 24 gauge .
- Brown Floral Tape
- Styrofoam balls – these measured about 3 cm in diameter and were used as the base for 2of the animals, i.e., the elephant and lion.
- Extruder tool – I used this for the cake border as well as the vines, and borders for the plaques on the cake.
- Plunger cutters in oval , round , 5 petal flowers , star and hearts – the oval ones were mainly for the leaves on the tree, round for the polka dots on the second tier, 5-petal flowers for the leaves base on the smaller tree, stars for the lion’s party hat and heart for the 2 Red hearts on the plaques.
- Gerbera daisy petal cutter – I used this to make the lion’s mane.
- Clikstix Groovy Alphabet Cutters
- Plaque cutters – I used one for the birthday boy’s name and the other for the words, ‘Our Prince is 1’.
- Scalloped round cutter set – I used the smallest cutter for the larger 3D tree on the cake.
- Pizza cutter – this was a general cutting tool
- Needle Tool – This was mostly to mark the trunk grain pattern on the 3D tree trunks.
- Sugar Craft Knife
- Fondant shaping tools – these were used to help in shaping the deco that was placed on the cake as well as the animals.
Animal Toppers on the Animals Cake
I started by preparing the animals toppers first. All of them were formed by hand. And I used one Styrofoam ball each as the base. There are 2 reasons for using Styrofoam balls. Firstly, it saves on my fondant. Secondly, the animals set much faster. And are much lighter too. This was particularly important for the monkey topper as its entire weight was supported by its thin tail. Having a lighter weight makes a lot of difference.
I had a total of 4 animal toppers – the monkey, giraffe, elephant, and lion. I did not capture step by step images of making these animals, but I do have the close-up pictures.
The monkey cake topper
The giraffe cake topper
The elephant cake topper
The lion cake topper
How to Make the Elephant Cake Topper
Mixing the fondant
- I started by mixing white and black to create the grey fondant. And then, using one Styrofoam ball as the base, I formed the elephant’s body.
- Next was the head. To make the head, I formed a large tear drop with the tip not so pointed. And then, I refined the tip to form the elephant trunk and the base of the tear drop as the face. I used the end of my piping tip to imprint the elephant’s mouth and attached 2 small pink balls on each corner.
- For the eyes, I formed 2 white ovals, added 2 smaller dots of black and added thin eyelids made in grey on each eye.
A cute elephant cake topper on the jungle animals cake
The elephant ears
- This animal's ears were made in grey and pink. So were the hands and legs. All were formed by hand. I started by pinching out 2 equal-sized pieces of grey fondant, rolled each into equal-sized sausages, and then pressed one of each ends thin. I then used glue to attach the flattened part of the legs to the elephant’s body.
The elephant paws
- For the animal's paws, I cut out small circles of pink and attached to the paws with shortening. The hands were formed in a similar manner too. And finally, I used my skewer to mark the elephant’s belly button!
- As for the balloon, I made it with fondant but the string holding it was floral wire. I poked one end of the wire into the balloon (I made the balloon in advance and let it set before putting it on wire as I did not want to risk the wire poking through the wet fondant of the balloon) and the formed a loop on the other end. Once the elephant was set and firm, I carefully inserted the loop through the elephant trunk.
The elephant holding a balloon on the animals cake
How to Make the Lion Cake Topper
The body and face
- This guy was pretty easy to make. I used orange and brown mostly, with a little bit of white and black for the eyes. I also used my gerbera daisy mold to make the mane. Similar to the elephant, I used a small Styrofoam ball as the base. And then I formed the head and attached the lion’s eyes, nose, mouth and eye brows and one ear (the other ear was not necessary as the party hat was supposed to cover it).
- Next were the hands and legs. Again, each one of these started off as sausage-shaped pieces. For the hands, I formed the paws on one end and flattened the other ends thin by pressing them with my fingers.
- For the animal's paws, I used my sugar craft knife and cut 3 shallow lines to mark the lion’s paws. And the I attached the hands to the lion’s body. Next were the legs which were formed almost similar to the hands except that the opposite ends of the paws were not pressed thin. Instead, they were flattened and attached to the body with some glue. And for the paws, I added small round brown pieces.
The lion mane
- For the mane, I used my smallest gerbera daisy cutter and made 3 pieces in brown. 1 piece went in between the body and the face while the other 2 pieces went to the back of the lion’s head. I attached all with glue.
An adorable lion cake topper for the jungle themed animals cake
The party hat
- Next was the animal's party hat in blue fondant. I shaped it into a cone and topped it with a tiny yellow ball. And then I added yellow stars all around it. And finally, I rolled a thin strip in green and attached it around the base of the blue cone with glue. I let the lion set firmly before attaching the party hat to it.
- And finally, I added the lion’s long tail.
The back of my 3 tier jungle animals cake
How to Make Giraffe Cake Topper
A smart looking giraffe cake topper for the jungle themed 1st year birthday animals cake
Colors for the giraffe
- Next was the giraffe topper. I used 5 colors for the giraffe namely yellow, light brown, chocolate brown, black and white. The body was made using white fondant tinted with Wilton golden yellow. The brown dots on the giraffe were chocolate brown fondant that has been lightened with some white fondant. The giraffe’s horns and mane at the back of its neck were made using chocolate brown fondant. The black was for the bow and eyes while the white also went of the eyes.
Forming the giraffe body and head
- To make the giraffe, I started off by rolling my fondant into a short fat sausage. And then I continued rolling one end to make it long and thin. This end was to form the neck and the other end was for the body.
- Next was the head. I formed a round ball and then rolled it slightly to elongate it. And then I formed another small yellow ball, pressed it flat with my fingers and attached to the front of the face as the mouth. I used my skewer to mark the nostrils and the back of my piping tip to mark the mouth.
- I formed the eyes in white and added black eyeballs to it. For the ears, I used my oval plunger cutter. I used my fingers to make one end of each eye pointy and pinched the other end so that they get folded slightly. I attached these to the head with glue.
- Next were the animal's horns. I rolled 2 equal sized thin brown pieces into thin sausages and attached them to the top of the giraffe’s head. To help the horns stay in place while the glue dries, I formed 2 small dents on the head with the end of my brush and attached the horns into these dents. That way, it was so much easier to keep them in place. Once they had become firm, I attached tiny brown ball on each horn, also with glue.
The legs and hooves
- I left the head to set aside while I worked on the giraffe’s hands and legs. The steps I took to form these were similar to the elephant and lion above. However, this time, since the legs were hanging from the side of the cake, when making the giraffe, I placed it on a piece of round Styrofoam and let the legs hang on its side while waiting for the giraffe to set and for the rest of the cake decoration to be ready.
- Once the hands and legs were in place, I cut out small circles (in 2 different sizes) in brown. I attached them randomly on the body. I also attached the brown circles for the hooves.
Close up of the giraffe cake topper on the jungle animals cake
The giraffe's mane and the bow
- And then I added the head followed by the giraffe’s mane which I cut using the scalloped blade of my pizza cutter. I attached the mane using glue.
- And then I added a black bow around the animal's neck. The bow was just a thin strip of black wrapped around the neck and another piece of the same sized black fondant that was formed into a bow.
Side view of the giraffe topper on the jungle animals cake
How to Make the Monkey Cake Topper
Cute monkey, literally swinging from a tree on the animals cake
- This was the trickiest of all the 4 animals on this cake. And that was simply because this little guy was to hang onto a 3D tree branch by his tail.
- The body had a Styrofoam ball as the base and the hands and legs were all wired. I formed them in fondant and slowly insert a thin wire through each arm and leg and then attached them to the body.
- The tail was also wired. And I shaped it into a hook so that it will be easy to hang him up on his tail on the tree branch as well as easily take him off the tree. This was because I needed to take him off the tree when transporting the cake so that all the shaking during the drive does not detach his tail off the body.
- The head was made entirely of fondant. And so was the crown (white painted in gold). The eyes, mouth, nose and ears were all made of fondant too.
The back view of the monkey topper on the completed animals cake
How to Make Fondant Tree
- I had 2 of these trees on the cake. The larger one on top of the cake as a topper and a slightly smaller one on the side of the 3rd cake tier. These trees were made using floral wire. If you see closer, you will notice that all the branches on each tree are wires. I used thicker wire (18 gauge) for the trunk for more stability. For the branches, I used thinner wires (gauge 24). To join these thinner wire to the trunk, I used brown floral tape. I also used the tape to tape the branches that were coming out of the tree truck together.
- For the wood grain pattern on the trunks, I used my needle tool and drew the pattern by hand. And then I dusted it with dark green petal dust.
- As for the leaves, I cut out green pieces of round scalloped pieces (using the smallest cutter in my scalloped cutter set. I used my 5-petal flower plunger cutter for the smaller tree) and glued 2 pieces together randomly on the wire branches (with the wire branches sandwiched in between). And then I used my oval plunger cutter for the leaves in a few different shades of green. I attached the leaves randomly on the scalloped pieces.
- I also attached yellow flowers on the tree. These were made using my small flower plunger cutter.
How to Assemble the Jungle Animals 1st Year Birthday Cake
Baking the cakes
- Once all the cakes were baked and have cooled down, I leveled, filled and crumb coated them with buttercream. And then covered I them with fondant. The first and third tiers were in green (Americolor Avocado food color mixed with white fondant) while the second tier was in pastel yellow. And then, I stacked them all up.
The birthday boy's name
- Next was the fun part i.e., the decoration. I started by putting up the birthday boy’s name and all other lettering on the cake. For the plaques on the second tier, I used plaque cutters. The wooden planks on the 3rd tier were strips of chocolate brown. I cut these by hand.
- Once the lettering was all done and attached to the cake, I completed the second tier decorations by adding a white fondant ribbon all around the tier.
- To frame the white plaques and the fondant ribbon around the cake, I used my extruder tool to pipe thin rolls of brown. I attached this as the border, with shortening. And then I finished off the second tier with green polka dots using my circle plunger cutter and green border (piped using the extruder tool).
Cute wordings on the animals cake
Attaching the trees to the animals cake
- For the third tier, I started by attaching the tree on the side first. I used glue so that the tree would stick securely to the side of the cake as well as the cake board. And then I used my extruder tool to pipe the vines around the top edge of the cake. I piped these in brown and green.
- And then I added the leaves in random order in a combination of green tones and yellow. I did the same for the top tier. I also added the leaves on the cake board.
The grass border
- And finally, I added the grass borders for both tiers. I rolled and cut my green fondant into long strips and used the pizza cutter to form the grass.
The grass border on the bottom tier of the animals cake
Tiny cake topper with candle
- Next was the tiny birthday cake on the top tier. I made this by hand with light blue fondant shaped into a tiny cake. And then I added the white icing on top in white, followed by the handmade candle.
A tiny birthday cake and candle as the animals cake topper
- After the cake, I attached the larger tree on the first tier. Since the trunk consisted of a number of wires grouped together, it was convenient to use the extra wire at the base to hold the tree in place on the cake. I did not poke the entire group of wires into the cake. I only used 2 and cut off the rest. And the two that went into the cake were inserted into lollipop sticks first so that there was no direct contact of the wires with the cake.
The side view of the animals cake
Attaching the animals
- And finally, I added the animals. I did this at the party venue which means I transported the cake and the animals separately. All the animals were glued to the cake except for the monkey which was left hanging on the branch by its tail.
The completed jungle animals cake
And that's my jungle animals birthday cake.
Happy Decorating 🙂