Santa Cake

Believe it or not, this is the first Santa Cake I’ve ever made! I originally made this cake to celebrate St. Nicholas Day earlier in December, but am just getting around to sharing it now!

This cake is made with almond cake layers, and almond buttercream.

I’m not sure if it’s from the almond cookies we enjoy around the holidays, but I always associate almond flavoring with the holidays. I also love the way it tastes!

However, you can always swap another extract for almond if it isn’t your cup of tea. Vanilla, coconut, or peppermint would all be delicious flavors too.

image of adorable santa cake made with buttercream

Step 1. Make the Festive Cake Layers

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line four 7″ round pans with parchment rounds, and grease with non-stick cooking spray.

Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.

Mix chunks of room-temperature butter slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.

Pour in egg whites, and mix on low until just incorporated.  

Mix in the buttermilk in two installments, on a low speed.

Add in almond extract and oil, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds.

Divide evenly between two bowls. Use gel food coloring to color one red, and one green.

Divide evenly between the prepared cake pans, to make 2 layers of each color. Bake for 37-38 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean). 

Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan.

Place cake layers on a rack to finish cooling (or place in the freezer for 45 minutes, to accelerate the cooling process).

Once full cooled, trim any caramelization from the sides of the layers using a serrated knife.

Step 2. Make the Buttercream Frosting

While the layers bake and cool, prepare the buttercream frosting. Beat the butter on medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth.

Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Add the heavy cream half way through.

Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla and salt, and beat on medium low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached.

If the frosting is too thick, add in cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time). To watch a full tutorial on how I make my frosting, you can click here.

Place 1/2 cup of frosting in a separate bowl, and add ivory gel food coloring to create a flesh like color. Set aside.

Place 2/3 cup of frosting into a seperate bowl, and color black with gel food coloring.

Add this frosting into a piping bag fitted with a wide, flat tip.

Place 1 cup of uncolored  buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a Wilton 1M tip.

Color the remaining frosting red with a generous squirt of red gel good, plus the smallest drop of black (it helps deepen the shade). If you’re having trouble getting a super red buttercream, try making the frosting a day in advance. The color will deepen overnight.

Step 3. Making Santa’s Face

Prepare the fondant features next. Use the yellow fondant to create a rectangular belt buckle, making it slightly larger than the width you plan to pipe for the belt.

Use the black and white fondant to create two eyes.

Cut out a small semi-circle of black fondant to be Santa’s mouth.

Also cut out two thicker semi-circles to place at the bottom of the cake, to be Santa’s feet.

Step 4. Stack and Frost Cake Layers

Stack and frost layers using the red buttercream. Cover the cake in a thin crumb coat, and chill in the freezer or fridge for about 5 minutes.

MVI_1746_Moment (2)

Add a second, thicker layer of red buttercream frosting. Smooth using a bench scraper. You can see a full tutorial on how to frost a cake with smooth sides here.

Step 5. Use Buttercream to Decorate this Santa Cake

Now it’s finally time to start making this cake look like Santa! To do this, start by pipinh a line around the side of the cake using the black buttercream to be Santa’s belt.

Image of piping black frosting on santa cake to be santa claus' belt

Carefully place the belt buckle on top of the black frosting.

Next, add the black semi circles to the base, to resemble Santa’s feet.

Pipe two diagonal lines from the top of the cake towards the belt buckle, to create Santa Claus’ arms.

MVI_1752_Moment (2)

Next, frost the top of the cake with a large circle of the skin colored frosting. Place the remaining red buttercream into a piping bag with a 1.5 cm opening.

Use frosting to pipe a line 3/4 up the cake, and fill in the space to create Santa’s hat.

Pipe an elongate triangle on top of this, to look like the top of Santa’s hat, hanging down towards his face.

Then pipe small, white buttercream swirls along the base of the had to look like the hat’s fur.

image of santa cake tutorial, piping santa's beard on with an open star frosting tip

Next, add on the eyes and mouth. Use the white buttercream to pipe on a mustache, and then pipe swirls around the sides of the face and chin to complete Santa’s beard.

Then place the remaining skin tone frosting into a piping bag and trim a 1 inch opening.

Pipe a large round circle above the mustache to be the nose, and pipe two round hands onto the base of each arm.

MVI_1757_Moment (2)

If desired, you can also add some white sanding sugar onto the base of Santa’s hat. This cake is a perfect way to celebrate the Holidays!

I even had my fiance help a little with the decoration of this santa cake 😛 This cake feeds 15-20 people.

Image of Chelsey White and Stephen Frankola making a Santa Claus Cake

Let Me Know What You Think!

If you try this Santa cake, I’d love to hear what think of it! Please leave a rating, and let me know your thoughts in the comments section.

Yield: 30 servings

Santa Cake

Santa Cake

Learn how to make an adorable Santa cake out of buttercream! It's the perfect cake for any Christmas party, and is super easy to make.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Additional Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes

Ingredients

White Almond Cake Recipe

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (390 grams)
  • 3 cups granulated sugar (600 grams)
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder (10 grams)
  • 1 tsp salt (6 grams)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (226 grams) - 2 sticks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (4 grams)
  • 2 tsp almond extract (8 grams)
  • 1 cup pasteurized egg whites from a carton (or about 7 egg whites) (235 grams)
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream, room temperature (382 grams)
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil (28 grams)
  • Red and green gel food coloring

Almond Buttercream Frosting

  • 3 cups unsalted butter, room temperature (678 grams)
  • 11 cups powdered sugar (1375 grams)
  • 1 tsp salt (6 grams)
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream (or whipping cream) (75 grams)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (4 grams)
  • 1 Tbsp almond extract (12 grams)
  • Red, ivory, and black gel food coloring, if desired

Additional Supplies

  • black, white, and yellow fondant (1 inch ball of each)
  • Wilton 1M tip
  • white sanding sugar
  • piping bags

Instructions

White Almond Cake Layers:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line and grease four 7 inch pans with parchment rounds.
  2. Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment until fully combined.
  3. Mix chunks of room-temperature butter slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.
  4. Pour in egg whites, and mix on low until just incorporated.
  5. Add the sour cream, vanilla extract, almond extract, and oil, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated.
  6. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on low speed for a few more seconds (the key is to mix until the ingredients are JUST incorporated, so that the batter isn't over mixed). 
  7. Divide the batter evenly between two bowls. Use gel food coloring to color one red, and one green.
  8. Divide batter evenly between the prepared cake pans (about 450 grams per pan). I like to use a digital kitchen scale to weigh my pans, to make sure my layers will be the same height.
  9. Bake for 33-34 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the pans to cool for 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan.
  10. Place cake layers into the freezer for 45 minutes, to accelerate the cooling process. Once the layers are fully cooled, carefully flip the pans and remove the layers from the pans.
  11. Use a serrated knife to level the tops, sides, and bottom of the layers, to remove any caramelization.

Almond Buttercream Frosting:

  1. While the cake layers bake and cool, make the vanilla buttercream frosting.
  2. Beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream.
  3. Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla extract, almond extract, and salt, and beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. 
  4. If the frosting is too thick, add in additional cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).
  5. Wait to add in the gel food coloring until the cake is crumb coated.
  6. Place 1/2 cup of frosting in a separate bowl, and add ivory gel food coloring to create a flesh like color. Set aside.
  7. Place 2/3 cup of frosting into a seperate bowl, and color black with gel food coloring.
  8. Place into a piping bag fitted with a wide, flat tip.
  9. Place 1 cup of uncolored  buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a Wilton 1M tip.
  10. Color the remaining frosting red with a generous squirt of red gel good, plus the smallest drop of black (it helps deepen the shade). If you're having trouble getting a super red buttercream, try making the frosting a day in advance. The color will deepen overnight.


Santa's Face

Prepare the fondant features next. Use the yellow fondant to create a rectangular belt buckle, making it slightly larger than the width you plan to pipe for the belt.

  1. Use the black and white fondant to create two eyes.
  2. Cut out a small semi-circle of black fondant to be Santa's mouth.
  3. Also cut out two thicker semi-circles to place at the bottom of the cake, to be Santa's feet.

To Assemble This Santa Cake:

  1. Stack and frost cake layers on a greaseproof cake board, using a dab of frosting to help stick the first cake layer to the board.
  2. Add an even layer of buttercream between each cake layer.
  3. Apply a thin coat of frosting around the the cake, to fully cover the cake layers. Smooth using a bench scraper, then chill the cake in the fridge (10 minutes) or freezer (5 minutes) until the frosting is firm to the touch.
  4. Add a second, thicker layer of red frosting to the cake, and smooth using a bench scraper.
  5. Next, pipe a line around the side of the cake using the black buttercream to be Santa's belt.
  6. Carefully place the belt buckle on top of the black frosting.
  7. Next, add the black semi circles to the base, to resemble Santa's feet.
  8. Pipe two diagonal lines from the top of the cake towards the belt buckle, for his arms.
  9. Next, frost the top of the cake with a large circle of the skin colored frosting. Place the remaining red buttercream into a piping bag with a 1.5 cm opening.
  10. Pipe a line 3/4 up the cake, and fill in the space to create Santa's hat.
  11. Pipe an elongate triangle on top of this, to look like the top of Santa's hat, hanging down towards his face.
  12. Pipe small, white buttercream swirls along the base of the had to look like the hat's fur.
  13. Next, frost the top of the cake with a large circle of the skin colored frosting. Place the remaining red buttercream into a piping bag with a 1.5 cm opening.
  14. Pipe a line 3/4 up the cake, and fill in the space to create Santa's hat.
  15. Pipe an elongated triangle on top of this, to look like the top of Santa's hat, hanging down towards his face.
  16. Pipe small, white buttercream swirls along the base of the hat to look furry.
  17. If desired, you can also add some white sanding sugar onto the base of Santa's hat.

Notes

This recipe can also be used to make sheet cake! One batch will make 2, 9 inch x 13 inch cake layers that are about 1 inch tall. I did this will the cake pictured above, and cut 4 square cake layers from my sheet cakes.

One batch of cake batter makes about 1800 grams. If you plan use four circular cake pans, add 450 grams of batter into each pan.

Once the layers have fully cooled, I like to trim the caramelized bits from the sides of the layers using a serrated knife to make sure my layers are perfectly white.

These cake layers can be made in advance!! Learn more about how far in advance they can be made, and how to properly wrap them in my post on how to make cake layers ahead of time.

Nutrition Information

Yield

30 slices

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 548Total Fat 29gSaturated Fat 17gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 10gCholesterol 75mgSodium 218mgCarbohydrates 72gFiber 0gSugar 61gProtein 3g

4 thoughts on “Santa Cake

  1. This cake was great! I live in CO at a high elevation and found this cake to be a bit dry, would you suggest substituting butter for oil? Thanks!

    1. I haven’t tried that before, but that’s definitely an interesting idea! Now I want to test that out 🙂 if you beat me to it, let me know how it works for you! <3

Let me know what you think!