Make a Barbie Cake Part I-Making the Cake without a Mold

For Princess’s 5th birthday party, I made her a homemade “Barbie” cake. It might not have looked like a professional made it, but I thought it was pretty good-and more to the point Princess was THRILLED with it. So thrilled in fact that she insisted on having one again this year.

As you can see from the pictures, my design improved this year, and I think that this year’s “Belle” cake looks even better than last years Pink & Purple Princess. It occurred to me that some of you might enjoy a tutorial on exactly how I make and decorate the cakes, without the use of an “official” Barbie cake mold.

In Part I of the Tutorial I will show you how I made the actual cake itself. In Part II of the Tutorial (tomorrow) I will explain how to decorate your creation.


Confectionery Sugar
Almond Extract
Food Coloring
2 boxes of cake mix (I used Aldi’s yellow cake and added a box of pink jello to make it “strawberry” the first year, the second year I was out of cake mix-oops! and had to run to the local expensive grocery store. I still bought 2 boxes of strawberry cake mix for around $3)
Inexpensive “Barbie” style doll
Wax Paper & Plastic Wrap
Painters or Masking Tape
Icing Bags & Tip

How To Bake a Barbie Doll Cake without a Mold:

First I had to build the layers of the cake to make the skirt. The first year I used a combination of glass measuring cups and a small glass mixing bowl from my Mom’s old stand mixer to make the tall thin skirt. You can use any metal or tempered glass item as a cake mold-just make sure to grease and flour it well-pay special attention to the “corners” or where the sides meet the bottom of the mold. (My one girlfriend says that the large Pampered Chef glass measuring cup is the perfect size for a Barbie cake-but I don’t buy very much of their expensive stuff!)

This year for the top domed portion I used the mixing bowl from my Kitchen Aid. The cake batter only came about 1/3 of the way up the bowl-but that was fine with me. The reason I didn’t just bake the entire cake in the mixing bowl was because I learned the hard way last year if you make the cake too big it takes forever to cook through to the center. Or it just doesn’t cook to the center! Then to make the skirt tall enough I baked two 9″ round layer cakes. It took one box of mix for the layers, and another for the domed portion.

I let the layers cool-then I whipped up a large batch of my favorite homemade frosting and used it to “glue” the layers together. It may be easier for you to plan your baking one day, and all your frosting the next.

Princess and Buddy were an appreciative audience for the endeavor (and willing to taste test the frosting) Next I picked out my platter (it was a plastic one that I had saved from a catered lunch party back when I worked) and placed wax paper around the edges in deep strips. When I am done frosting I will pull the wax paper out, along with any messy “dribbles” and it will look like I did a super neat job frosting with no mess on the platter!

I also put a blob of icing on the platter to help “anchor” the cake. That was a new idea-in the past the cake itself has slipped around when I tried to pull the wax paper out. This worked like a charm, the cake stayed put and the paper came out when I wanted it to!

After I glued the 2 9″ layers together with icing (there was a bit of difference between the circumference of the dome layer and the 9″ layers. I could have cut the 9″ layers down to size with a knife, but decided I’d just fill it in with frosting to make it smooth later. After all, what 5 or 6 year old was going to complain if they got a bunch of extra frosting in their slice?

I used a shot-glass to hollow out a hole in the center for the doll to stand in. I had to work in small chunks, then empty out the glass, then continue to get down to the bottom. Then I realized that I needed to level the top of the layers for the dome to fit flush. I used my bread knife to do that. At this point it looks pretty mess, but remember-frosting fixes everything.

I slopped on a bunch of frosting and then placed on the dome layer, which I had also cut a hole through with the shot glass. Then I prepared the doll for being inserted. At this point she does sort of look like bondage Barbie. Don’t worry-that isn’t the final effect! She is actually wrapped in two pieces of plastic wrap. The bottom skirt portion will stay on while she is in the cake. The top portion (use some tape to keep it on) keeps the doll’s bodice and hair clean and out of the way. It will come off right before the guests arrive at the party. There is no point taking it off before then, why tempt fate?

Then I hit a snag, the doll was taller than I had thought and the dome of the skirt hit her mid-thigh. URRRGGGHH! But that’s ok, as I said-frosting fixes everything. In a desperate attempt to save the day, I stuck bits and parts of cake that had been carved out of the center portion around her hips with frosting to bring up the level of the skirt. I didn’t worry about how messy it looked, it was all going to be covered with frosting in the end anyway.

My girlfriend pointed out to me later that it would have been easier to simply remove the doll’s legs and then reattach them after the party. Of course I didn’t think of that, it would have been too simple. If you do decide to go the paraplegic route, either keep the doll “nekkid” and create her top out of icing in a later step, or make a small hole to stuff the bottom part of her dress (covered in plastic wrap) into. An extra note on the doll-the cheapo dollar store dolls have dresses that feel like they are made out of plastic. This is actually a good thing, as it means any frosting you pipe around the waist to hide the seam between the skirt and the doll will rinse right off!

Lastly I applied a “Crumb Coat” to the cake. This is where you apply a layer of icing to the entire cake to lock in the crumbs. This makes your final layer easier, and you don’t have to worry about all those crumbs mixing in with your pretty frosting. You don’t have to worry about how it looks, just get it on there.

Then the whole thing went into the fridge to harden the frosting up. You can wait an hour or so and then continue, but at this point I called it a day with plans for the actual decorating to follow.

Tomorrow-Part II, Decorating Your Barbie Cake.

Other posts on related topics:
Homemade Frosting/Icing Recipe
Making a Barbie Cake without a Mold
Throwing a Birthday Party Fit for a Princess-On a Budget
Birthday Week (in a Birthday Month)
It’s the Thought that Counts (Birthday Present Philosophy)
Making Invitations in Microsoft Word
Birthday Decorating on a Dime
Barbie Birthday Cake
Just Hit It (Making a Pinata)Birthday Fun and Games

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  1. Amanda says

    Is 34 too old to have a princess cake?? Great photos. Great job. I like the picture of your helpers the best. I am sure they were willing to “help” with the frosting beaters and bowls…..

  2. Mummy bear says

    FAB! I’m in the UK and beautiful cakes are very expensive here. I try to make my own but I’m no professional. I found your website by accident and I am so glad I did. I was really worried about my twin neices birthday cakes coming up. Thanks to your princess dolly cakes, both the girls will be thrilled with their cakes and so will my wallet! Thank you

  3. Meredith says

    Jenn, I am up late baking Elise a Snow White cake. How wonderful to Google and come up with a trusted friend’s advice! Thanks for all the tips!

    • says

      Meredith-It made my day to see your comment! Just so you know, as far as I’m concerned you are THE Meredith online 😉 I hope the cake turned out well for you and Elise has/had a very happy birthday.


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