If you’re looking for a sweet and playful cake for a special little one, look no further than this Farmyard Barn cake. The big red barn makes an eye catching centre piece and the farm animals have come to join in on the fun!
Now you may be a beginner thinking “surely I won’t be able to make that” – well you’re in luck because each step is broken down with photos and it’s much easier than it looks (I promise!).
I used an 11″ x 7″ x 3″ tin to bake the cake, but feel free to use whatever rectangle shaped tin you have on hand.
You will need:
2 x rectangle cakes (they need to be a dense cake suitable for carving)
Batch of ganache (I used approx. 1kg of chocolate and 334g cream)
Green Fondant (grass)
Red fondant (barn, rooster)
Brown fondant (barn, muddle puddle, sign)
Ivory fondant (pebble pathway)
Blue fondant (pond)
Yellow fondant (ducks)
Black fondant (barn, animals)
Orange fondant (duck and rooster beaks)
White fondant (lettering, animals)
Pale pink fondant (animals)
Grey fondant (rooster)
Cake board (I used a 10″ round white board)
Cardboard cake rectangle (to sit directly under the cake – size will depend on your cake)
FMM Block Tappits (Uppercase, Lowercase and number cutters)
Sugar Syrup (1:1 ratio of sugar and water)
No. 2 piping tip (to make impression of nails on the barn)
Long Palette knife
Off Set Spatula
Cake Smoothers/Flexi Smoothers
Uncooked Spaghetti/toothpicks (to hold animals together)
Grater (to make the grass)
Black Edible Marker
Small balling tool
Sharp knife (to carve the cake)
Cardboard to make templates
Pastry or silicon brush
Green ribbon (for the cake board)
Let’s get started with the Farmyard Barn Cake Tutorial!
1. Dampen the 10″ cake board with water. Add some tylose to the green fondant and mix it in well. Roll out the green fondant to approximately 4mm thickness. Lay it over the cake board ensuring the whole board is covered with green fondant. Use your cake smoothers to rub over the surface of the board making it smooth and even. Use a sharp knife to trim around the board removing the excess fondant. Use the exacto knife to cut out a section of green fondant from the front of the board – this will form the pathway up to the barn. The path will need to be long enough to meet right up to the front of the barn doors. Next, cut a section of green fondant on the side of the board for the pond.
2. Add some tylose/CMC powder to the blue fondant and mix it in well. Roll it out slightly bigger than the pond section. Dampen the pond area with a paintbrush and water. Drape over the blue fondant, smooth it over with your fingers and remove the excess with the exacto knife. Use your finger to smooth over the join.
3. Add some tylose/CMC powder to the ivory fondant and mix it in well. Use a paintbrush to dampen the path area on the cake board with water. Roll out the ivory fondant (bigger than the pathway) and use the pebble/cobblestone embosser to imprint the pattern. Lay this fondant over the path section and use your fingers to gently press it down so it adheres to the board. Use the exacto knife to cut away the bits that overlap. Later we’ll cover up the join with grated green fondant (which will become the grass) so don’t worry too much about making the join perfectly smooth.
4. Pop the cake board aside to dry while you work on the rest of the cake.
CARVING THE BARN CAKE
5. Remove the top domed part from each of the two cakes so they’re level. Cut the cakes in half across the middle – so my cake was originally 7″ x 11″ and after cutting it was 7″ x 5.5″. This will create 4 even layers (see picture 5 above).
6. Pop some ganache on the cardboard cake card; this will help adhere the cake to the board.
7. Place the first layer of cake on top of the cake card. Ensure there is enough space in between the cake and the edge of the cake card – you need at least 1/2cm to fill with ganache. Give the cakes a trim if there isn’t enough space.
8. Add an even layer of ganache over the top of the cake.
9. Place the second layer of cake on top and add an even layer of ganache.
10. Add the third layer of cake. Use your hand to gently press down on the cake to ensure it’s all secured together and stable. Add a layer of ganache on top.
11. Add the fourth and last layer of cake. At this stage, my cake was sitting at around 7″ tall.
**I’ll make a note that I did not add dowels to this cake. Even though it was a tall cake, the cake was dense and very sturdy. The cake travelled in the car for 20 minutes on my lap and it didn’t move a millimetre. If you feel that your cake needs the dowels, please use them.
12. Cut out two cardboard templates to create the barn shape – one for the front and one for the back. The exact dimensions will depend on the size of your cake. I’ve added my measurements above. Keep in mind the template should align with the sides of the cake, not the sides of the cardboard cake card.
13. Line up the template on the front of the cake – the template should be flush with the sides of the cake.
14. Take a sharp knife and start to cut away small sections from the roof, using the template as a guide. Go slowly as it’s easier to trim bits away rather than having to put them back! As the sides of the house match up with the template, you won’t have to trim them, just the roof. Have a look at the cake from the front and back and make sure it’s (relatively!) even.
TIME TO GANACHE OUR BARN CAKE!
15. I started by ganaching the front and back panels of the barn first, then the roof, and then the sides. It doesn’t really matter which order you do it in.
16. Once you’ve got an even layer of ganache all over the cake, try and smooth it out as best you can with a cake scraper. You can see my cake in picture is relatively smooth, but around the edges and joins of the roof and on the front panel it’s a little messy. Pop the cake in the fridge for half an hour. Just before you’re due to take it out, boil the kettle and fill a mug with hot water. Pop the metal end of the off set spatula in the hot water for a few minutes. This hot metal is going to smooth out all the bumpy bits of ganache.
17. Using the off set spatula, smooth over the front and back panels, sides and roof. Tidy up the corners and joins. It’s a smooth foundation of ganache that will help give a flawless fondant finish, so try and get it as even and smooth as possible. Pop it back in the fridge for half and hour to set.
(Do you ever ganache a cake and think “Eek, I’m going to run out of ganache?”. That’s me pretty much every cake! It’s a fine line of having enough to cover the cake but not a whole heap left over. So with this cake I started off with 1kg of chocolate and 334g of cream and this is how much was left after the cake was done – 192g of ganache).
COVERING THE CAKE IN FONDANT
18. Before we cover the cake in sugar syrup, we need to take some quick measurements of the cake so we can make a few templates. Rather than covering the barn in one large piece of fondant (which you could do if you’re comfortable working with fondant), we’ll be covering it in panels. It will make covering the cake in fondant much easier. So we’ll require a panel for the front and back of the cake and the two sides. The front and back panel will be about the same size as the template you used to carve the cake (refer to picture 13), just add an extra centimetre all around which will allow for the layer of ganache. For the sides of the barn, measure from the cake, down the roof, all the way to the bottom of the cake (write down the number), then measure from the start of the front panel, all the way to the back panel (refer to picture 18 above). Use those measurements to draw a large rectangle template and cut it out.
19. Take the sugar syrup and pastry/silicon brush and add a light, even layer of syrup all over the cake. Pay particular attention to the joins/corners and around the bottom of the cake. We don’t want the cake dripping in syrup, we just want to adhere the fondant to the cake and to seal around the bottom so it becomes airtight.
20. Roll out the red fondant to approx. 5mm in thickness.
21.Place the template on top and trim around the rectangle using the exacto knife.
22. Pick up the rectangle fondant panel, line it up with the bottom of the cake and gently smooth the panel up towards the roof. Use your hands to smooth it over and adhere the fondant to the cake. Take your flexi smoothers/cake smoothers and give it a quick smoothing over.
23.Use the exacto knife to trim away the excess fondant.
24. Use the flexi smoothers/cake smoothers to give it another smoothing over, ensuring that the fondant around the bottom has stuck to the cake so no air can get in. Attach the opposite side panel of fondant in the same way.
25. Next we’ll cover the front and back of the barn. Roll out the red fondant to approx. 5mm thickness. Place the template on top and use the exacto knife to trim around it. Pick up the piece of fondant, line it up with the bottom of the cake and gently bring it up towards the roof. Use your hands to smooth it over and adhere the fondant to the cake. Use the flexi smoothers/cake smoothers to rub over the panel and smooth it out. Use the scalpel to trim away any excess fondant. You can brush on a tiny amount of water for the joins (to make the panels stick together) if you need to. Repeat the process for the back panel.
** You’ll notice that because we covered the sides of the barn first and then added the font/back panels, it hides the seams/joins to the side of the cake, not the front. If we had added the front panel first, then the sides, there would be visible lines on the front of the cake. It just makes it a little neater **
The barn cake is covered in fondant and now comes the fun part – decorating it!
26. To make the lines and indentations on the barn, the fondant will need to be soft (so it’s not a good idea to get to this point and go to bed for the night). Take the large palette knife and hold it horizontally against the side of the barn. Starting at the bottom, press the edge of the palette knife into the cake ensuring you keep an even pressure all the way along. Leave about 1cm in between each line and make your way to about half way up the cake (till you get to the roof).
27. Use the back of a knife to indent vertical lines between the horizontal lines – this will give the appearance of planks of wood.
28. Repeat the horizontal and vertical lines on the other side of the barn, as well as the front and back.
29. Take the No. 2 piping tip and press it into the corners of the planks – this will give the appearance of nails and make the cake much more realistic. Go ahead and use the piping tip to create the nails on the sides and front/back of the cake.
ATTACHING THE ROOF
30. Add some tylose/CMC powder to brown fondant and mix it in well. Roll out the fondant to approx. 3mm in thickness. Use the wood grain/bark embosser to press down on the fondant, creating a wood-like impression. Use the exacto knife cut long, wide strips – they will need to be long enough to cover the length of the roof. Keep embossing the brown fondant and cutting strips until you have enough strips to cover both sides of the roof.
31. Starting at the very top of the roof, brush on some sugar glue and attach one strip of brown wood grain fondant. Use your fingers to gently smooth it over (you don’t want to lose the wood grain effect) and trim off the excess from the ends with the exacto knife. Working your way down the roof, attach the next roof plank right next to the one before it. Smooth it over and trim off the excess. My barn had 6 planks on each side of the roof; the amount you have will depend on how wide your planks are and the size of your roof. Once they’re all glued on, that’s the roof complete!
ADDING THE WINDOW AND DOOR
32. Roll out the black fondant to approx. 1mm thickness. Cut out one large black square which will form the barn door. Also cut out one smaller black square which will create a window above the door. Stick them to the front of the barn with sugar glue (refer to picture 32 for their correct positioning).
** Note if you plan on adding lettering to the front of the barn (like I did with Samuel), keep in mind there is limited space above the barn window. If your recipient has a long name, or if you’re using larger cutters, I would suggest moving the window up a bit more towards the roof – that way you can add the name underneath the window and not have to worry about squishing it in**
33. Roll out the red fondant to approx. 2mm thickness. Cut out a large red square the same dimensions as the black square from Step 32. Cut the square in half down the middle so you are left with two rectangles. Use the edge of your palette knife to make two vertical lines down the barn doors which will give a wooden plank effect. Roll out some brown fondant to approx. 1mm thickness. Cut out two long thin strips and two short thin strips. First attach one of the long strips to the long outside edge of the barn door with sugar glue. Then use the two shorter strips to edge the top and bottom of the door. Take the last long strip and attach it diagonally through the middle. Use your exacto knife to trim the corners so it’s a neat fit.
34. Repeat the process for the other barn door. Ensure that the diagonal strips for the barn doors form a V shape when they’re sitting next to each other (refer to picture 34). I made a boo-boo and stuck mine in the wrong direction!
35. For the barn window, cut out a red square the same size as the black square you cut out for the window. Cut it in half down the middle so you have two equal rectangles. Trim them with brown fondant the same way you did for the doors. Next cut two short, thin brown strips of fondant and attach one strip to the top of the barn window and one to the bottom (as shown above in picture 35). Do the same for the other shutter.
36. Add a small amount of royal icing to the back of both window shutters, attach them to the sides of the window and hold in place until they’re secure.
** Before we go any further, the cake needs to be transferred to the cake board. Add a large dollop of royal icing to the cake board behind the pebble/cobblestone pathway and sit the cake on top. Ensure the black square on the front of the barn (for the barn door) lines up with the pathway **
37. To attach the barn doors, take the door for the left hand side and apply some royal icing to the back. Line it up with the black square and secure it in place on the left hand side. With the right hand side of the door, we want it to look slightly ajar so the cow can poke her head out. So for that door, apply a thin line of royal icing on the back that goes from the top to the bottom – only where the door meets the barn. Ensure you’re got enough room for the cow to poke her head out, then hold it in place until it’s secure.
** Now the barn is covered in fondant and decorated, it’s time to make our farm animal friends! **
TO MAKE THE COW’S HEAD
38. Roll some white fondant into a seamless oval shape. Take a small amount of pale pink fondant for the mouth/nostril area and roll it out so it’s an oval shape that will cover the bottom half of the head. Apply some sugar glue to the back of the pink fondant and attach it to the bottom part of the head. Use a stick of uncooked spaghetti to create two nostrils. Use the edge of the piping tip to create the mouth/smile. For the black patches, roll out some thin black fondant and use the exacto knife to cut out two wavy patches. Use sugar glue to stick them to each side of the cow’s head. To make the ears, roll two small teardrops of pale pink fondant. Use your fingers to flatten them slightly and pinch the two sides together to create a little crease in the middle (you could also use the dresden/veining tool). Insert a tiny piece of uncooked spaghetti into the bottom of each ear, add a dab of sugar glue and attach them to the cow’s head. Roll two tiny black balls of fondant for the eyes and secure them in place with sugar glue.
39. Doesn’t she look cute?! Take the head and add a dab of royal icing on the back and attach it to the left hand side of the barn door, near the opening. By tilting the head slightly, it looks as if she’s poking her head out of the door (refer to picture 37 above). Hold in place until secure.
TO MAKE THE ROOSTER
40. For the body, roll some white fondant into a seamless ball and then shape it into a teardrop. Use your fingers to pull up at the pointy end of the teardrop, so the rooster’s tail is pointing upwards a little.
For the tail feathers, roll two tiny red teardrops and one grey teardrop. Use some sugar glue to attach them in a red/grey/red order. Insert a small piece of uncooked spaghetti into the other end where the head will go.
41. For the head, roll a small piece of grey fondant into a seamless ball and then shape it into a teardrop.
42. Insert the small balling tool into the pointy end of the teardrop and start to move the balling tool around so it creates an opening.
43. Continue to move it around until a large hole forms (refer to picture 43).
44. Use the dresden/veining tool to make a few indentations around the bottom of the opening. Use your fingers to soften and round off the edges. At this point the head kind of reminded me of those vintage scuba diving helmets! Once you’re happy with the shape of the head insert it on top of the spaghetti, applying a little sugar glue underneath.
45. For the rooster’s comb, roll a tiny amount of red fondant into a small sausage. Use the exacto knife to cut two lines on one side, then use your fingers to smooth and round off the cut edges – this will make three even bits to the comb. Use some sugar glue to attach it to the top of the head (refer to picture number 40 for correct placement).
46. Roll two tiny black balls of fondant for the eyes and secure in place with sugar glue.
47. Take a tiny amount of orange fondant for the beak and use your fingers to turn it into a triangle. Attach it to the head with sugar glue.
48. For the two red dangly bits below the beak (I think the proper term is wattle), roll two tiny red teardrops. Press them together at the pointy ends and attach them underneath the beak with sugar glue (refer to picture number 40 for correct placement).
49. Add a small dab of royal icing under the rooster and attach him to the top of the roof.
TO MAKE THE DUCKS
50. Roll two small seamless balls of yellow fondant. These are the heads for the two ducks. Roll two more yellow balls of fondant, a little bigger than the heads – this is for their bodies. Shape them into a teardrop and use your fingers to pull up the pointy end of the teardrop, so the duck’s tail is pointing upwards a little. Insert a small stick of uncooked spaghetti into the other end and attach the head.
51. For the wings, roll two tiny balls of yellow fondant into a teardrop and use your fingers to flatten it slightly. Attach to the body with sugar glue. For the eyes, roll two tiny black balls of fondant. Use the uncooked spaghetti to make an indentation where the eyes will go. Add a tiny dab of sugar glue and attach the eyes. For the beak, use your fingers to mould some orange fondant into a triangle. Secure it to the head with sugar glue.
52. Add a dab of royal icing under each duck and position them in the pond on the cake board.
TO MAKE THE PIG (LYING ON HIS BACK)
53. For the head, roll a small ball of pale pink fondant. For the ears, roll two tiny balls of pale pink fondant and use your fingers to mould them into triangles. Use the dresden/veining tool to make an indentation in the middle of the ears. Insert two small sticks of uncooked spaghetti into the head where you’d like the ears to go. Add a dab of sugar glue around the spaghetti and insert the ears on top. For the eyes, roll two tiny black balls of fondant. Use the uncooked spaghetti to mark where the eyes should go. Add a dab of sugar glue and attach the eyes.
54. For the snout, roll a tiny amount of pale pink fondant into an oval shape. Flatten it with your fingers and the use a piece of uncooked spaghetti to create the two nostrils. Add some sugar glue to the back of the snout and attach it to the head.
For the body, roll a piece of pale pink fondant (slightly larger than the head) into a ball. Insert a piece of uncooked spaghetti into the base of the head, add a dab of sugar glue and attach the head to the body. For the piggy feet/trotters, roll four tiny balls of pale pink fondant, all equal in size. Use the back of the knife to make an indentation line in the middle. Apply some sugar glue to the back of each foot/trotter and attach them to the body as shown in picture 54.
55. This little piggy is lying in a big puddle of mud, so we’ll need to roll out some brown fondant to approx. 1mm thickness. Use the exacto knife to cut an uneven puddle shape. Run your finger over the cut edge to soften it and round it off a little. Apply some royal icing to the cake board where you would like the puddle to go. Mine is on the right of the barn. Add the puddle on top, then add a tiny amount of royal icing on the back of the pig and pop him in the puddle.
FOR THE HAPPY BIRTHDAY SIGN
56. Add tylose to brown fondant and mix it in well. Roll it out to approx. 2mm thickness. Take the wood grain/bark embosser and press it firmly int the fondant. Use the exacto knife to cut out three rectangles, then make some cut outs on two of the rectangles as shown in picture 56. Leave them to dry flat for approx. 1 hour.
57. Once they’ve firmed up, use the edible marker to write “Happy Birthday” on the wood. Add some royal icing to the back of the “Happy Birthday” planks of wood and attach them to the other piece of wood as shown in picture 57. Set the sign aside to dry.
TO MAKE THE GRASS
58. Take a large ball of green fondant and using the grater, grate fine bits of fondant. Make enough for the pathway (both sides), around the pond and around the “Happy Birthday” sign. Spread the grated fondant on to your work surface and let it dry for about half an hour.
59. Tint some royal icing green and apply it around the pond and both sides of the pathway. Sprinkle the grated green fondant on top, giving it a press down to ensure it adheres properly. Of course you could use green buttercream for the grass if you prefer.
60.Pop a small blog of green royal icing net to the barn & position the sign on top. I used a little bottle of gel colour behind the sign to prop it up while it dried fully. Sprinkle grated green fondant on top of the green royal icing.
FOR THE LETTERING
Of course you don’t need to add lettering, but I think it’s a lovely way to personalise the cake. When doing any kind of lettering, I would suggest using proper letter cutters as they look much more professional thank trying to freehand them with a knife. I used the FMM Block Tappits (Upercase, Lowercase & Numbers) for this cake.
61. Add tylose to some white fondant, mix it in well and roll the fondant into a long sausage.
62. Use your rolling pin to roll it out very thin – it’s going to be approx. 30cm long x 2cm wide. It makes it so much easier cutting out individual letters this way, rather than rolling out a big round piece of fondant. Leave the long piece of fondant to dry for approx. 15 minutes. If the fondant is too soft, it will stick to the cutters and be a real pain to remove. Leave it to dry a little longer.
63. Use a paintbrush to dust the tappit letters/numbers with cornstach; this will help prevent the fondant fro sticking to them. After 15 minutes, take your tappit letters/numbers and push it into the fondant as shown. Press down quite firmly and push it backwards and forwards a few times to ensure it’s cut through the fondant. If the letter has fallen out of the cutter and not cut through properly, it may still be too soft – leave the long strip to dry a little longer.
64. When you cut through, the letter should still be stuck in the cutter. Use your finger to rub over the back of the fondant letter to remove any stray bits of fondant. Turn the cutter over, pull it back a little and tap it (hence the name of the product!) on to your work surface. It *should* come out after a few whacks; if not you can use a pin to gently un-stick the letter. Rather than trying to pull the whole letter out with the pin, once it’s un-stuck from the edges, leave it in the cutter, turn it over and tap it out gently. This will help keep its shape. I know of people popping their tappits into the freezer for 5 – 10 minutes and then tapping them out. Use the letters to spell out the recipients name and age.
65. Ensure when they come out of the cutter there’s no stray fuzzy bits around the edges and each letter/number looks neat – they’ll be dry in a few minutes and if you try to adjust them, they’ll easily snap.
66. Work out how you want to position the name. I decided to put “Samuel” on a curve as it was a bit of a squeeze having it straight across. If you’ve got room underneath the window, you can also add the name there. Apply a little sugar glue to the back of the letters/numbers and attach them to the barn.
ADDING RIBBON TO THE CAKE BOARD
Lastly (finally!), we need to add green ribbon around the edge of the cake board. Adding ribbon gives a lovely professional finish. I found some double sided tape at my local craft shop – it’s approx. 5mm wide and the perfect size for the cake board since I don’t need to trim the tape. Apply the tape all around the edge of the cake board. When adding the ribbon, start at the back of the cake (so you won’t see the join at the front/side) and make your way all around the cake board until you get to the back again. Press it down to ensure that it’s adhered properly.
And now you can stand back and admire this completely adorable Farmyard Barn Cake! I hope you’ve enjoyed the tutorial and found it helpful.
Check out my dark chocolate mud cake post – is tastes amazing, holds up well under fondant and carves beautifully.
Have you ever carved a cake before? I’d love to know how you went making the cake, feel free to leave your feedback in the comments below.
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