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Santa's Surprise! Cake

A detailed alternative to a gingerbread house! This fun holiday design uses two Stand-Up House cakes so there’ll be plenty of dessert to go around.


Difficulty: Medium



Cake serves 24.


Fireplace and Staircase Riser

Techniques Used


Step 1

In advance: Make 4 small and 2 large trees using royal icing. For small trees, cut sugar cones to 1 3/4 in., 2 in., 2 1/2 in. and 3 in. high. Cover cones with tip 3 pull-out dots; attach nonpareils. For each large tree, stack 3 sugar cones and secure with royal icing. Beginning at bottom, cover trees with tip 17 pull-out stars. Attach nonpareils as you pipe branches to treetop. For stars, roll out yellow spice drop on surface sprinkled with sugar; cut 2 stars using medium Cut-Out. Attach with tip 3 dots of royal icing.

Step 2

Cover foamcore base with Fanci-Foil Wrap. Using pan as a guide, mark base where house cakes will be positioned, creating a 30° angle where house fronts meet. Mark floor area by drawing a line from corner of house backs to corner of base. For floor, tint 8 oz. fondant brown; roll out 1/8 in. thick and cut an 18 x 7 in. piece. Brush base from house backs to edge of base lightly with piping gel. Attach fondant, trimming at markings. Using ruler and straight-edge wheel of Cutter/Embosser, score lines for floorboards. First, mark horizontal lines, 3/8 in. apart. Next, mark floorboards 3 and 3 1/2 in. long to stagger joints. For snow area, roll out remaining white fondant 1/8 in. thick. Brush base from house fronts to edge of base lightly with piping gel and cover area with fondant. Trim to fit.

Step 3

Bake and cool cakes using firm-textured cake batter such as pound cake. Trim bottoms of 2 house cakes to stand level on board; position on base. On both house fronts, mark with toothpick and ice smooth 1 1/2 in. square top windows. On Door House, mark and ice smooth a 2 in. square bottom window and a 1 3/4 x 3 1/4 in. door with a 1/2 in. square window. On Chimney House, mark and ice smooth a 2 x 3 in. bottom window. On both house fronts and sides, pipe 1/2 x 1/4 in. high bricks using tip 4, staggering ends to create a brickwork pattern (smooth with finger dipped in cornstarch). Pipe tip 1 outline windowpanes. Pipe tip 3 pull-out dot window and door garland trim, wreath, bushes and tree in front window. Attach nonpareils. On wreath, add tip 2 dot berries and outline bow. Pipe tip 3 dot doorknob. Add tip 3 pull-out icicles on windowsills. For chimney, cut 4 caramels on an angle to fit roof peak; attach 2 on each side of peak with buttercream. Attach a second row of 4 caramels. Ice rooftops fluffy with spatula. Pipe tip 7 icicles along eaves.

Step 4

Decorate house backs (inside of houses). Ice walls on both houses smooth with spatula. Pipe tip 45 trim on peak of both houses. On Chimney House, mark a 1 1/2 in. circle for wreath; pipe tip 3 dot wreath and bow. Mark fireplace using pattern, starting 1 in. from left edge of wall. Ice inside area smooth. Using heavy pressure, pipe tip 3 bricks (smooth with finger dipped in cornstarch). Pipe tip 3 outline mantel; add tip 3 outline candles and dot garland, tip 2 dot flames. For Santa, outline and pipe in tip 7 head (pat smooth). Outline and pipe in tip 3 suit, hat and boots (pat smooth). Pipe tip 2 dot facial features. Add tip 3 zigzag fur trim, swirl beard and pompom, pull-out moustache and dot mittens. Pipe tip 3 dot garland along bottom of trim. On Door House, mark inside door 1 3/4 x 3 1/4 in. high; outline and pipe in (pat smooth). With tip 3, outline and pipe in a 1/2 in. square window; add dot doorknob. Mark upstairs railing, with top beam 2 3/4 in. from house peak and bottom 1 in. below top beam. Pipe tip 3 outline beams with vertical posts 1 in. apart. For staircase, mark and pipe in riser pattern; mark banister 1 1/2 in. above riser, following angle. Pipe tip 3 outline banister with vertical posts 1 in. apart. Figure pipe family using tips 2, 3 and 7. Pipe tip 3 dot garland on staircase and railing. For gifts, trim jumbo spice drops into squares and roll in granulated sugar. Pipe tip 2 outline ribbons and bows. Ice white fondant-covered board fluffy with spatula, leaving walkway clean. Attach mini jelly candies for walkway. Position cone trees and packages.