Channeling Charlie Brown

The finished product

I have a little boy who loves two things: Charlie Brown and stuff made by his mama.

Actually, he loves all the Peanuts characters. He adores the holiday specials, feature films, books, action figures...the whole enchilada. He is even going to be Charlie Brown for Halloween this year. It is no surprise that last week he requested that his birthday cake be Charlie Brown themed and made by me personally. Because "mama makes me things".

Finn's favorite shirt
What he doesn't know is that I have never decorated a cake before. Now, that's not to say I haven't slapped some frosting on a baked good in the past. (Carrot cakes are a common occurrence in my home so I know my way around cream cheese frosting and a small spatula.) The results are generally passable, but never something you would see out of Martha Stewart. This was a tall order that required a trip to the specialty cake decorating store.

Charlie Brown yellow

I began my design like I do any design - by sketching. I kept these questions in mind when brainstorming...
  1. What symbolizes Charlie Brownieness?
  2. What cake decorating techniques have I seen executed on TV?
  3. What cake decorating techniques that I have seen on TV do I feel comfortable executing?
In the end, I came up with a sensible design that required me to purchase fondant, gel food-coloring, and a pastry bag with a simple tip. I made a traditional yellow cake and because we love it, cream cheese frosting. I will admit I was nervous about this turning out. I really was winging this.

Here is a side view (top view is above):

Three things I learned during this process:
  1. Food coloring and cream cheese frosting are a bad idea (you get little white flecks no matter how much food coloring you add)
  2. Fondant tastes awful...but is pretty fun to sculpt.
  3. Piping frosting is something I would like to do again, and again.
Dude, I made caucasian fondant!
I had a pretty good time trying my hand at cake decorating. I can't see myself doing this activity all the time (don't like sticky hands), however, I will do it again. The success of this cake (in my family's estimation) has made everyone suddenly want a mama-made cake for their birthday. My husband was even excited, he said that it wasn't perfect...but it was heartwarming in a home-made way. This is exactly the reason that I make things for those I love.

And who knows? Maybe my next cake will be an improvement.



  1. Good for you! I've abandoned store cakes this year and have set to decorating cakes for my kids myself. My Daughter got a Hello Kitty cake at her party that my mom baked and I frosted using the millions of tiny frosted stars technique. For my son I made things easy and just crumbled a bunch of chocolate cookie dirt, placed toy dinos, and wrote Happy Birthday. My kids love it big time because I made the cake and they know it.

  2. I would love to see that Hello Kitty cake! Sounds fabulous!!


  3. Chucky Brown as we call him is not my most favorite, but Snoopy sure is. Your cake turned out great. They are so much better when Mom makes the cake too.

  4. Thanks for the compliment! I'm a Woodstock girl myself. :)


  5. It looks fantastic :) And yep, fondant tastes rubbish (so it's cool that you used frosting for the bulk of the cake - lots of characxter decorated cakes seem to be primarily fondant - ugh!)

  6. @pinkundine: yes, this fondant trend needs to stop. Sure, it can be beautiful...but isn't the taste the most important thing?