This Wonky Nutcracker Christmas Cake (a 1st Birthday Cake) with Candy is a showstopper cake that your client (or guests) will not stop talking about any time soon. If your baby is celebrating his or her 1st birthday in December, this Christmas First Birthday Cake would be perfect!
I've made a few decorated Christmas Cakes this season (like this Grinch Cake) and while I hope to share them all here on the blog, if I only have time to share one, I want it to be this one!
This is one of my most favorite first birthday cakes of all time! One reason is.. the Nutcracker Ballet is special to my husband and this is a great theme for a December birthday!
You see, my husband's mommy died while we were dating. And she was a ballerina and ballet teacher. And every year, she put on a big production of the Nutcracker Ballet with kids in their hometown.
He danced as well and it will always be a connection to his mommy, he loves the Nutcracker! And since I've never made a cake with this theme, I wanted it to be really special because I believe she would've loved it!
And yes, this cake is for a 1st birthday party for a sweet baby with a December birthday!
Before I jump into all the cake details, I also want to share the smash cake. My client asked that it be a plain white, super simple cake, but of course, I couldn't leave it at that.
I had a few extra edible images printed that I didn't use on the cake, so I added one Christmas Tree 🎄 to the simple smash cake, along with some edible gold stars and I love the finished cake! So first up, smash cake details:
Christmas Tree Smash Cake Details:
- This is a single layer 5-inch vanilla bean cake (white almond sour cream with vanilla bean paste instead of almond extract) frosted with vanilla buttercream.
- I bake all of my cakes in my favorite Magic Line pans.
- It's displayed on an 8-inch Scalloped Edge Gold Cake Board.
- I used an edible image of a tree printed from this Nutcracker First Birthday set, attached to rolled out marshmallow fondant with a rub of shortening, then cut out with an Xacto blade.
- I added tiny edible gold stars as a finishing touch to tie it to the big cake.
Okay, now that that's out of the way, let's talk about this big cake!!
Wonky Nutcracker Christmas 1st Birthday Cake with Candy
Probably the very first question on your mind (if you don't already know the answer), is how did you make the cake stand up like that?
The answer: Cake Stackers.
Now, confession time. I bought a Cake Stackers set years ago. YEARS (like... 9 or 10). And never used it. I planned to use it for all of my cakes but I was so set in my way of doing things, I couldn't ever talk myself into changing over to a new system.
Since then, there have been a handful of times when I planned to use the system for this cake or that, and still... I always talked myself out of it. Until I got an order for this Christmas cake.
I knew the only way I was going to pull it off was to dust off my Cake Stackers set, order the wonky pieces to go with it, bite the bullet and go for it!
I'm so glad I did!
For this cake, I used the 4-inch plate, the 6-inch plate, and the 14-inch base plate from the Cake Stackers sets, along with the Wonky Kit.
Christmas Cake Details:
- The tiers were size 4-inch, 6-inch and 8-inch.
- I baked them in my favorite Magic Line Pans.
- The bottom two tiers were Vanilla Bean Cake (White Almond Sour Cream Cake with Vanilla Bean Paste instead of Almond Extract).
- The top tier was Hummingbird Cake - a recipe I adapted from The Cake Mix Doctor Returns book.
- I covered the cake in Satin Ice White fondant. Y'all know I almost always use homemade marshmallow fondant but my workload has been overwhelming the past few months so I've switched to pre-made fondant for some of my cakes and Satin Ice is my favorite brand.
The mom (my client) sent me these files for the edible images used for this Nutcracker Party. They were the exact images she used for her invitation and decorations so I wanted to work them into the cake design without altering them at all.
My solution? Edible images.
The cakes was a cross between a winter wonderland, a land of sweets and all things Nutcracker, including the Sugar Plum Fairy 🙂
You can find these exact Nutcracker file images here on Etsy. First, I had them printed onto edible paper. Then I laid them on fondant and cut them out to place on the cake.
I recommend rolling the fondant super thin when you do this type of work. Otherwise, the decorations get heavy in a hurry!
I had one of each character printed, then several of the Christmas trees and stars. So, now that you know, I'll give some details from each tier so you can get the whole picture!
How to Make Easy Homemade Lollipops
The most fun treats on this cake were the clear lollipops. I made them homemade and they were SO super easy!
I quite literally made all the colors in a matter of 10 minutes.
All the Stars!
Stars were the focus of the middle tier. Originally I had planned to do snowflakes but the stars just seemed a better fit for this design. I used the printables, the gold candy stars, and more stars cut from gold fondant. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
This small star cookie cutter from this set was perfect for cutting out some of the stars I used.
On this middle tier, I also used more homemade lollipops (some clear as described above and some made of fondant).
There were fondant gifts on each tier as well. These were simple fondant squares cut out, then dusted or painted and a bow added from this bow mold (in different colors, sizes, and shapes).
These little gifts were glued to lollipop sticks using melted chocolate, then stood on the cake. 🎁
The bottom tier had a little of everything from the top two tiers. It had more edible images including the Nutcracker and the Mouse King, gifts, lollipops, trees, and stars!
To cover the post coming out of this tier, I used green fondant and this cutter to cut strips of fondant that I wrapped around the post in layers to resemble a Christmas Tree. Then I glued Red Sixlets on it.
One thing I haven't mentioned yet is the red and white lollipops and candy canes. For those, I rolled out ropes of white fondant red fondant, then twisted/rolled them together to make the lollipops and candy canes.
I also used this same striped fondant to cover the post between the top and middle tier.
The very last thing I did was use hot glue to add the pink ribbon around the cake drum. I have a tutorial for adding glitter paper and ribbon to a board here, if you're not familiar.