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Bumblebee Cake

This week I revisited one of my older but still adorable animal cakes, my bumblebee cake! I originally made this cake back in 2017 (check out the original photos at the very bottom of this post) and decided it was time for a little update.

This cake is made with moist black cocoa cake layers, honey buttercream frosting, and an adorable little fondant face.

image of an adorable bumblebee cake made with black cocoa and honey buttercream

Making this Bumblebee Cake: Step-by-Step Tutorial

Let’s walk through each step of this cake together to make sure it turns out as amazing as possible!

Step 1: Make the Bumblebee’s Face and Wings

Make the bumblebee’s wings and face first, so that they have time to dry! These can be made several says in advance if needed and stored uncovered at room temperature.

My secret to making the wings is using a large heart cutter (about 4 inches in diameter). It makes it so easy to cut out symmetrical, adorable wings. Just make sure that you carefully flip the wings over as they dry, so that both sides have a chance to firm up.

I also recommend using small circle cutters to get the shape of the eyes just right.

image of fondant wings and facial features that have been made to decorate a bumblebee cake

Step 2: Bake and Level Your Cake Layers

Then we set to work on our cake layers. Line four 6-inch round cake pans with parchment rounds and grease with non-stick baking spray or homemade cake release.

Fill with the black cocoa cake batter and bake for 31-34 minutes or until a skewer comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Let the layers cool for 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around the perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Flip the cake layers onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

Level two of the cake layers with a serrated knife once they’re fully cooled.

image of moist black cocoa cake layers that have been leveled with a serrated knife

Step #3: Make the Honey Buttercream Frosting

While the cake layers bake and cool, make the honey buttercream frosting. You can use either an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer to make this frosting.

Some of you might think that chocolate cake layers and honey buttercream are an odd combo, but if that’s you then you clearly haven’t tried it before!!

Honey and chocolate are a match made in heaven. You have to trust me on this one.

If your frosting seems too thick after mixing all your ingredients, add some heavy cream or milk (1 tablespoon at a time). Or if the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (1/4 cup at a time).

If you’re unsure how thick your frosting should be, you can learn what consistency you’re looking for in my frosting consistency post.

Place 1 cup of buttercream in a separate bowl and mix in the dark or black cocoa and black gel food coloring.

I recommend also adding in 1-2 additional Tablespoons of heavy cream to the black buttercream to make the frosting easier to pipe.

image of dark black buttercream in a bowl

Color the remaining frosting yellow with gel food coloring and add a small drop of orange gel food coloring to give your frosting a warm, golden tone.

Cover the frosting with plastic wrap to prevent crusting and set aside.

image of golden yellow buttercream in a mixing bowl

Step 4: Assemble and Frost the Cake Layers

Next, it’s time to assemble the cake! I recommend freezing your cake layers for about 20 minutes before stacking them. It will make them way easier to handle and frost.

Stack and frost the cake layers on a 10-inch greaseproof cake board. I recommend using a dab of frosting to help stick the bottom cake layer to the board. Make the unleveled cake layers to be the bottom and top layers of the cake. This will give the bee a rounder shape.

Spread a thick layer of yellow buttercream on top of the cake layer with a large offset spatula. Repeat with remaining cake layers.

Chill the cake in the fridge (30 minutes) or freezer (10 minutes) until the frosting is firm to the touch.

Once the frosting has set, use a sharp knife to trim off 1-inch of cake from one side of the cake.

Then carefully flip the cake on its side and place the cut portion of the cake against the cake board. I like to use a bench scraper to life the cake off the board and flip it.

If your cake layers start to separate from each other once the cake is flipped, insert a straw, chopstick, or dowel through the cake the help keep them together until the crumb coat has set.

Cover the cake in a thin layer of yellow buttercream and chill again.

image of a chocolate cake being crumb coated with yellow buttercream frosting

Then spread a thicker layer of yellow buttercream on the cake and smooth using a large offset spatula and acetate sheet.

image of yellow buttercream being smoothed onto a bumblebee cake

Chill the cake again in the fridge (30 minutes) or freezer (10 minutes) until the frosting is firm to the touch. This will make it much easier to add on the fondant facial features and wings.

Step 5: Add the Finishing Touches

The final step is to add on our bee’s stripes, facial features, and wings!

Remove the cake from the freezer or fridge and pipe two thick stripes around the cake with black buttercream.

image of black frosting being piped onto a yellow cake to make a bumblebee birthday cake

I recommend starting at the base of the cake and piping half of a stripe up to the top, then repeating this process on the other side. It’s way easier than trying to pipe each stripe in one motion!

Add the fondant details and enjoy! If you’re making this cake in advance, wait to add the wings until right before you plan to serve the cake.

It will make it much easier to transport and refrigerate the cake.

image of a fondant wing being pressed into a bumblebee cake

Bumblebee Cake Substitutions and Swaps

Below are some swaps and substitutions that can be made in this cake recipe.

  • Unsalted Butter – If you only have salted butter on hand, you can use it in place of the unsalted butter in this recipe. Just be sure to omit the salt that this recipe calls for. You can also use vegan butter in its place!
  • Granulated Sugar – I do not recommend reducing the amount of sugar or changing the type of sugar, as it will change the texture of the cake layers.
  • Eggs – If you don’t have eggs on hand or have an egg allergy you can use a flaxseed egg or an egg replacer.
  • Black Cocoa – This recipe turns out best with black cocoa (I get mine on Amazon), but you can also use dark cocoa powder or regular unsweetened baking cocoa in this cake recipe.
  • Buttermilk – You can also use full fat yogurt, sour cream, whole milk, or an alternative yogurt or milk (almond, soy, oat) if you’re dairy free.
  • All Purpose Flour – This recipe turns out best with AP flour, but you can use a gluten free flour blend or cake flour if that’s all you have on hand.
  • Honey – I love adding honey into the frosting in this recipe, but it can be omitted if needed.
  • Heavy Cream – Whole milk or alternative milk (soy, almond, oat) will work fine in this frosting recipe if that’s what you have on hand.
image of moist, 6-inch dark chocolate cake layers that are cooling on a wire rack

Tips for Making the Best Bumblebee Cake

  • Properly measure your flour (spoon into the cup measure, then level) or use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients.
  • Ingredients at room temp mix together better! Set out any cold ingredients ahead of time.
  • Mix your cake batter just until the ingredients are incorporated. This will ensure your cake layers are tender and soft.
  • Use a bench scraper and acetate sheet to help you get your final coat of frosting super smooth.
  • Chill your cake layers in the freezer for about 20 minutes before assembling the cake. This makes it easier to stack and frost.
  • Make this bumble cake vegan or dairy free if needed! Use your favorite type of dairy free milk to replace the buttermilk and heavy cream and use vegan butter sticks in place of the butter. For the eggs I recommend using an egg replacer like this.
  • If you want to make a larger version of this cake, double this cake recipe to make 4, 7-inch cake layers.
image of an adorable bumblebee cake made with black cocoa and honey buttercream

Making This Bumblebee Cake in Advance & Storage Tips

Make your cake layers in advance and freeze them. It breaks the process up and makes it more approachable.

Make your frosting ahead of time too or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.

A frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to a month. The buttercream locks in all the moisture, keeping the cake fresh and delicious!

If you cut into the cake and have leftovers, use any remaining frosting to cover the cut section to keep it moist and store in the fridge for up to a week.

Other Recipes You Might Like:

Let Me Know What You Think!

If you make this bumblebee birthday cake, I’d love to hear what you think! Let me know by leaving a rating below.

If you plan to share on social media, you can tag me @chelsweets and #chelsweets so that I can see your amazing creations on social media.

Yield: 20 servings

Bumblebee Cake

image of an adorable bumblebee cake made with black cocoa and honey buttercream

This adorable bumblebee cake is made with moist chocolate cake layers and homemade buttercream. It's just as cute as it is tasty!

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 34 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 34 minutes

Ingredients

Decorations

  • 6 small wooden skewers
  • 1 cup white fondant
  • 1/2 cup black fondant

Black Cocoa Cake Layers

  • 1 cup or 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature (226g)
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar (500g)
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature (224g)
  • 1 cup hot water (240ml)
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temp (240ml)
  • 1 cup dark or black cocoa powder (80g)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (375g)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder (6g)
  • 1 tsp baking soda (6g)
  • 1 tsp salt (6g)

Honey Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature (339g)
  • 2 Tbsp Honey (30ml)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (8ml)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (2g)
  • 5 cups powdered sugar (625g)
  • 3 Tbsp heavy cream or whipping cream (45 ml)
  • 3 Tbsp of dark or black cocoa (5g)
  • Black and yellow gel food coloring

Suggested Equipment

Instructions

Bumblebee Face & Wings

  1. Make the bumblebee's wings and face first, so that they have time to dry! These can be made several says in advance if needed and stored uncovered at room temperature.
  2. Roll out the white fondant to be about 1/4 inch thick to make the bumblebee's wings. Cut out two large hearts (about 4 inches in diameter). Trim off the base of the heart and insert two skewers into each wing and set aside. As these dry, carefully flip them over to make sure both sides have a chance to dry.
  3. Roll out the white fondant again to make it thinner and use a circle cutter or bottle cap to cut out two 1-inch circles to make the eyes. Top these with two black circles that are slightly smaller and brush a tiny bit of water between them to help them stick together. Add two small dots of white fondant to each eye to give them a cartoonish look.
  4. Cut out a small arch from the black fondant to make the bumblebee's mouth.
  5. Next we make the bumblebee's antenna. Roll out two small circles of black fondant that are about 1 cm wide and press each one onto a small skewer. Paint the skewer black use a mixture of black gel food coloring and 1 tsp of clear extract or alcohol.
  6. With the remaining black fondant, create a cone-like shape to look like the bumblebee's stinger! Press a toothpick or short skewer into it. Set aside.

Chocolate Cake Layers

  1. Begin by preheating the oven to 350 F / 175 C. Line four 6-inch pans with parchment rounds and spray with non-stick baking spray.
  2. Add 1 cup of unsalted butter into the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl and beat on a medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add 2 1/2 cups sugar and cream together on a high speed for 1-2 minutes with a whisk attachment or hand mixer. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. The mixture should become light in color.
  3. Mix in 4 large eggs on a medium speed, two at a time.
  4. In a separate bowl combine 1 cup of hot water, 1 cup of buttermilk, and 1 cup of dark or black cocoa powder. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and no clumps remain.
  5. Sift 3 cups of flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, and 1 tsp salt into a large bowl.
  6. Next, add 1/2 the dry ingredients into the butter/egg mixture. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula to ensure the flour gets fully incorporated.
  7. Pour in the buttermilk/cocoa mixture and gently pulse the mixture to incorporate the liquid. If you don't, you'll end up splattering the cocoa mixture all over your kitchen!
  8. Add in the last half of the dry ingredients and mix on low until fully incorporated.
  9. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. I like to use a kitchen scale to make sure each pan has the same amount of batter.
  10. Bake for 31-34 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.
  11. Let the layers cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around the edge of the pans to help separate the layers from the pans.
  12. Place the pans in the freezer for about 45 minutes to accelerate the cooling process. Once the layers are fully cooled, carefully flip the pans and remove the layers from the pans.
  13. Level two of the cake layers with a serrated knife once they're fully cooled.
  14. If you're making the cake layers in advance, wrap and freeze them like this. Remove them from the freezer about 15 minutes before you plan to assemble the cake. They will still be cold, and this will make them easier to stack and minimize crumbing as you frost the cake.

Buttercream Frosting

  1. Beat the unsalted butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds until smooth with a paddle attachment and stand mixer or a hand mixer.
  2. Mix in the honey, vanilla extract, and salt on a low speed.
  3. Slowly add in the powdered sugar and mix on a low speed. I like to place a kitchen towel over my mixer to contain any powdered sugar clouds. Halfway through add in 3 Tbsp of heavy cream to make the frosting easier to mix.
  4. Mix on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated and the desired consistency is reached. If the frosting is too thick, add in additional cream (1 tsp at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).
  5. Place 1 cup of buttercream in a separate bowl and mix in the dark or black cocoa and black gel food coloring. I recommend adding in 1-2 additional Tablespoons of heavy cream at this stage, to make the frosting easier to pipe. Mix until the frosting is evenly colored, then place in a piping fit with a large flat piping tip.
  6. Color the remaining frosting yellow with gel food coloring. Add a small drop of orange gel food coloring to give your frosting a warm, golden tone.
  7. Cover the frosting with plastic wrap to prevent crusting and set aside.

Assembling This Bumblebee Cake

  1. Stack the cake layers on a greaseproof cardboard cake round or flat plate.
  2. Spread a small dab of buttercream on the center of the board, to help your cake layer stay in place. Make the unleveled cake layers to be the bottom and top of the cake. This will give the bee a rounder shape.
  3. Spread a thick layer of yellow buttercream on top of the cake layer with a large offset spatula. Repeat with remaining cake layers.
  4. Chill the cake in the fridge (30 minutes) or freezer (10 minutes) until the frosting is firm to the touch.
  5. Once the frosting has set, use a sharp knife to trim off 1-inch of cake from one side of the cake. Flip the cake on its side and place the cut portion of the cake against the cake board. I like to use a bench scraper to life the cake off the board and flip it. If your cake layers start to separate from each other once the cake is flipped, insert a straw, chopstick, or dowel through the cake the help keep them together until the crumb coat has set.
  6. Cover the cake in a thin layer of yellow buttercream and chill again.
  7. Then spread a thicker layer of yellow buttercream on the cake and smooth using a large offset spatula and acetate sheet. Chill the cake again in the fridge (30 minutes) or freezer (10 minutes) until the frosting is firm to the touch. This will make it much easier to add on the fondant facial features and wings.

Decorating This Bumblebee Cake

  1. Remove the cake from the freezer or fridge and pipe two thick stripes around the cake with black buttercream. I recommend starting at the base of the cake and piping half of a stripe up to the top, then repeating this process on the other side. I find this is way easier than trying to pipe each stripe in one motion.
  2. Add the fondant details and enjoy! If you're having a hard time getting the fondant bits to stick to the cake, use small dab of buttercream to press them into place.
  3. If you're making this cake in advance, wait to add the wings until right before you plan to serve the cake! It will make it much easier to transport and refrigerate the cake.

Notes

Tips for Making the Best Bumblebee Cake

  • Properly measure your flour (spoon into the cup measure, then level) or use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients.
  • Ingredients at room temp mix together better! Set out any cold ingredients ahead of time.
  • Mix your cake batter just until the ingredients are incorporated. This will ensure your cake layers are tender and soft.
  • Use an acetate sheet to help you get your final coat of frosting super smooth.
  • Chill your cake layers in the freezer for about 20 minutes before assembling the cake. This makes it easier to stack and frost.
  • Make this bumble cake vegan or dairy free if needed! Use your favorite type of dairy free milk to replace the buttermilk and heavy cream and use vegan butter sticks in place of the butter. For the eggs I recommend using an egg replacer like this.
  • If you want to make a larger version of this cake, double this cake recipe to make 4, 7-inch cake layers.

Making This Bumblebee Cake in Advance & Storage Tips

  • Make your cake layers in advance and freeze them. It breaks the process up and makes it more approachable.
  • Make your frosting ahead of time too or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.
  • A frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to a month. The buttercream locks in all the moisture, keeping the cake fresh and delicious!
  • If you cut into the cake and have leftovers, use any remaining frosting to cover the cut section to keep it moist and store in the fridge for up to a week.

Nutrition Information

Yield

20

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 448Total Fat 21gSaturated Fat 10gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 10gCholesterol 66mgSodium 273mgCarbohydrates 64gFiber 0gSugar 54gProtein 2g
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Stacey

Sunday 26th of June 2022

Could you use coffee in place of water in the recipe?

Chelsweets

Sunday 3rd of July 2022

Hi Stacey,

You totally can, that'd be delicious!! Just make sure you let the coffee cool to room temp so it doesn't cook the eggs :)

Alesha

Thursday 16th of February 2017

Do you make your own fondant? If so do you have a recipe?

Chelsweets

Friday 17th of February 2017

I usually use satin ice, since I don't use fondant very often!!

Sweet Elite Cutters: Modern Square Element – Cake | Cup Cake

Friday 3rd of February 2017

[…] The full recipe and baking instructions for this cake base can be found here: https://chelsweets.com/2017/02/02/bert-the-bumblebee-cake/ […]

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