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When it comes to celebratory, special occasion sweets, it’s hard to top the wow factor of explosion cakes. As the action-packed name would suggest, the trendy confection boasts multiple, colorful layers and a sparkle-, sprinkle-, or candy-packed inside, which playfully “explodes” all over the table when sliced into.
Needless to say, explosion cakes have become an increasingly popular order at dessert cafes and bakeries. Generally, they are quite pricey to purchase, considering how popular they are, and how much artistry goes into them.
So, if you’ve got time on your hands, if you're just feeling crafty, or if you're looking to surprise that special someone, why not attempt your very own explosion cake! Read on for our step-by-step guide.
You can keep things pretty simple decoration-wise. Especially since you’ll need to make a big enough batch to create (at least) four layers. That said, you’ll still want your layers to taste great. We suggest using our Ultimate Chocolate Cake, Vanilla Poppy Seed Cake, or Easy Red Velvet Cake recipes, or perhaps even our Matcha Green Tea Cake, served with or without the accompanying lemon meringue frosting. And speaking of frosting…
Not only does icing help cement all those layers together, and thoroughly coat the outside so you can cover it with decorations (and helpfully hide any imperfections or mistakes), it provides a visual and flavor boost to boot. Go classic with White Wedding Cake, Chocolate Buttercream or Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting, or play around with Maple Frosting, Creamy Gingerbread Frosting or Marshmallow Frosting.
The original explosion cake contained a literal rainbow of layers. But whether you go that route or not, eye-catching color still plays a major role in this show-stopping pastry. So in order to customize the hue of your frosting and cake, you’ll need to get a hold of food coloring…try red, blue, green, neon, nature-inspired colors, or even dramatic black!
Vanilla cake and/or frosting are anything but basic, if you bring added flavor to the party by way of extracts. We’re talking banana, coconut, lime, rum, pumpkin pie spice, root beer, raspberry, strawberry, and a whole lot more.
You’ll need to create a series of tunnels for your treats to tuck into. Which means, cutting circles from the centers of each layer. Using a cookie cutter will make this a clean and easy job. Just don't forget to leave one of the rounded layers untouched, so you can place it on top for a smooth finish.
Before you begin your teetering build, you’ll want to ensure everything stays sturdy. Selecting a sizable platter, stand or board (at least two-inches wider than your cake) is an important place to start. It also helps to squeeze some frosting down to anchor your first layer, and keep the cake from sliding around.
Initial construction is just like any layer cake. Meaning, you need to carefully alternate stacks of cake and frosting. If you’ve chosen cakes (and icing) of many colors, keep that in mind when choosing the order of your stacks, so you can create the most dynamic visual possible.
Let the real fun begin! Start by filling that empty center with your goodies of choice. And the sky’s the limit; just think about what will create the most dazzling impact. We’re talking sprinkles, gum balls, jelly beans, candy kisses, gummy bears, mini chocolate bars — you name it!
Channel your pastry Picasso by making the outside of your cake as enthralling as the (hidden) inside. Use an offset spatula to create a smooth, all-over frosting coating, and a piping bag fitted with various tips for decorative details. You can use sanding sugar for a sprinkling of “fairy dust,” arrange cookies around the top and base, or save some of your surprise treats, for providing a sneak peek of what’s within.
The moment you’ve all been waiting for! If you’ve constructed the layers like a pro, you’ll be gifted with the glorious cascade of confections!