A Dud Dachshund Cake

Not every day in the Hotly Spiced kitchen is a happy one.  In the lead-up to Arabella’s birthday party I set about making the cake she had requested, a dachshund.  What could go wrong!

My dachshund

My dachshund

Pretty much everything.

Too much tint added to the cake mix

Too much tint added to the cake mix

But not the baking-the-cakes part; that went very well except for being too heavy-handed with the tint.  I made two strawberry cakes and there were no issues.  I put them into the freezer overnight and woke the next day to the task of decorating them.

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

I cut the cakes in half and sandwiched the four layers together with strawberry cream frosting.  I then covered the entire cake in ganache but didn’t make enough and so the ganache was at best, patchy.  Then I tinted some royal icing pink and once it had been rolled out, draped it over the cake.  When I’d finished smoothing over the icing, I took a step back and looked at the cake.

Just out of the oven

Just out of the oven

It was out of proportion.  Far too tall for the width of the cake.  Furious with myself, I removed all the icing and as much of the ganache as I could, then walked up to the shops to buy more chocolate, cream and royal icing.

Cut each cake in half to make four cakes (but you'll only need three)

Cut each cake in half to make four cakes (but you’ll only need three)

I came back and removed the top layer of the cake so now the height was in better proportion to the width of the cake.  I made more ganache but added too much cream and so it wasn’t firm enough in consistency.  I gave it time to cool down then started covering the cake with it.  Because I’d removed a layer of the cake, there was now remaining butter cream on top of the cake and this was swirling with the ganache.  The cake was now completely thawed out and so the ganache wouldn’t harden.

Cookie-cutter dachshunds glued to the sides of the cake

Cookie-cutter dachshunds glued to the sides of the cake

I used too much tint when I dyed the royal icing and it turned out to be a brighter pink than I was hoping for.  Pressing on I rolled it out and draped it over the cake but because the ganache hadn’t hardened, when I tried to smooth the icing, it moved and swirled and slid around.  Meanwhile the ganache was pooling towards the bottom of the cake causing the bottom of the cake to be more broad than the top.

Birthday cake

Birthday cake

Then I tinted the remaining icing brown and used my new cookie cutter to make some dachshunds to decorate the sides of the cake (cover over the giant flaws).  The dachshunds wouldn’t stick and started sliding down the cake leaving brown streaky stains.  I usually use pins to stop this but where were they?

A rather large slice

A rather large slice

By now I was using all my inner strength to not hurl the ugly cake at the nearest wall.  I restrained myself, just, and cut out a dachshund for the top of the cake.  The ‘masterpiece’ was now finished and I hated it.  But then Arabella came in and her face lit up and she said, ‘Is that my cake?  It’s so cute.  Thanks so much, mum, I love it’.

I felt a little better.

It's all about the taste!

It’s all about the taste!

Then I posted an image of the cake on my Instagram page saying it was too awful to blog about but so many of you told me to go ahead anyway. I’m now living by the motto that’s it’s okay to not just post successes.  Who’s with me?

Too much pink tint added to the cake mix.

Too much pink tint added to the cake mix.

I certainly was disappointed with the end result however, when it came to taste, there was nothing wrong with it.

4.8 from 9 reviews
A Dud Dachshund Cake
Recipe type: Cakes
Cuisine: Party Cakes
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10-20
A triple layer strawberry birthday cake covered in chocolate ganache and then rolled icing.
  • For the cake:
  • 370g (130zs) butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 packet strawberry jelly
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tbspn vanilla extract
  • 3½ cups plain flour
  • 1 tbspn baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • For the Strawberry Frosting:
  • 125gms unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 30mls pouring cream
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • splash of strawberry essence
  • pink food colouring (optional)
  • For the Ganache:
  • 600gms (21ozs) dark cooking chocolate
  • ¾ cup pouring cream
  • For the Icing:
  • 3 packets ready-rolled royal icing (1.5kgs total)
  • pink food dye
  • brown food dye
  • edible glue
  • paint brush
  • pins
  • black edible marker
  1. Begin recipe a day ahead.
  2. For the cakes:
  3. Pre-heat oven to 160C (350F)
  4. Grease and line 2 x 22cm (9inch) round cake tins.
  5. Cream butter, sugar and jelly crystals until light and fluffy. Add vanilla extract. Add dry ingredients alternating with milk. Beat until well combined.
  6. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 50mins or until cake springs back when lightly touched in the centre.
  7. Allow cakes to cool then remove from cake tins, cover in plastic wrap and freeze overnight.
  8. For the Strawberry Frosting:
  9. Beat butter until as white as possible.
  10. Gradually add sugar.
  11. Beat in cream, vanilla and strawberry essence and tint (if using).
  12. Continue beating until smooth.
  13. For the Ganache:
  14. Combine chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, being sure to not let the water touch the bowl.
  15. Stir with a metal spoon until smooth.
  16. Remove from heat and set aside to cool and harden until spreading consistency.
  17. For the Rolled Icing:
  18. Take two packets of icing and knead until smooth. Add pink tint and knead until the colour is fully incorporated.
  19. Tint remaining icing brown and knead until smooth and the colour is well blended.
  20. To Assemble the Cake:
  21. Remove cakes from the freezer and divide each cake in two to make four cakes. Set one cake aside as you will only need three cakes for this recipe.
  22. Place a small dollop of strawberry frosting on the bottom of the cake board and place a cake on top and apply pressure to adhere the cake to the cake board.
  23. Cover top of cake in frosting.
  24. Add next cake and cover in frosting.
  25. Place third cake on top.
  26. Cover cake in ganache.
  27. Roll out pink icing until about 4mms thick. Using a rolling pin, carefully lift icing and cover the cake. Use hands dusted in icing sugar to smooth the icing.
  28. Take some of the brown icing and roll into lengths of rope. Take two lengths of rope and twist.
  29. Use paint brush dipped in edible glue and paint bottom of cake with glue.
  30. Affix rope to the bottom of the cake.
  31. Roll out brown icing and use a dachshund cookie cutter to press out five shapes.
  32. Use the paint brush to brush the back of each dachshund with edible glue and carefully stick dachshunds onto the sides of the cake. Hold the dachshunds in place with pins to stop them sliding down the cake.
  33. Using remaining brown icing, roll until 4mms thick.
  34. Cut out a dachshund shape. Use paint brush to cover back of dachshund with glue and fix onto cake.
  35. Use black edible marker to give some definition to the dachshund, eg: eyes.
  36. Stand back and admire your efforts.

My dachshund

My dachshund



  1. I think it looks lovely Charlie! And u can’t go past a dachsund:)). And I love strong pink

  2. I agree Charlie, it’s good to blog about the not so successful bits although that doesn’t take a way from how you feel about it.
    I think your cake it lovely – I have never attempted even working with royal icing!
    And all’s well that ends well – Arabella was happy – what more could you want.
    Have a super week ahead.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  3. I’m glad you posted the recipe because now I know to put jelly crystals in a cake mix – I’ve never heard of that before but I like it:) I think it looks fab – I’m glad the birthday girl was happy.

  4. I’m glad you persisted and if Arabella liked it, all the stress and aggravation was worth it. 🙂 I think the cake was very pretty and the pink was nice and bright.

  5. G’day! Any cake that’s made with love could not be flawed Charlie!
    I think it looks great and the best compliment is Arabella loved it! Well done!
    Cheers! Joanne

  6. You are too funny Charlie… the cake is good!

  7. It’s definitely worth blogging about recipes that didn’t go as well as hoped, thanks for going for it and sharing. For what it’s worth I think the end result is such a fun and happy cake, perfect for a birthday and Arabella totally got that!

  8. The cake looks gorgeous and Arabella loves it, to me that’s success. The dachshund on top of the cake does not look like it was from a mold, you are quite an artist as well. Thanks for sharing.

  9. It’s hard being a perfectionist! It’ll drive you crazy until you make it right… I know, I’ve been there. But in the end, no one notices! I think your cake is beautiful and most importantly, Arabella loved it!
    But yes, posting disasters is informative too.

  10. Well, I can see why Arabella was impressed. Nothing wrong w/ this cake. It’s a good thing you’ve never seen the cakes I created. I do not possess your cake decorating talent. This one is lovely and if your girl was pleased, that’s what counts.

  11. Yes, I do agree that posting recipes that are challenging is a great idea! Charlie, I am sorry to hear of your decorating dilemma – but, I gotta agree with Arabella, this cake is too cute – and those layers, why they are making me wish I had cake for breakfast!

  12. Flops… only make you a better cook 🙂 all my mistakes have turned into victories and some even into amazing new recipes! I, like Arabella think that cake is very cute 🙂 I think you are a bit hard on yourself! Thanks for sharing! Liz x

  13. It is ok to post about the less successful things but I don’t think your cake falls into that category. It’s very cute and from here looks fab! I love it and Arabella was obviously delighted. I admire your patience though. I think I might have been clearing pink and brown stains from the wall way before I’d got to rolling out more pink icing 😉 GG

  14. I think it’s important to blog about “failures”! I’ve had a few in the last several weeks. No one likes a perfect blogger. LOL 😉 But with that said, I think had you never said a word, none of of would have been the wiser. I think it looks gorgeous and I like the bright pink contrast with the brown of the dog. And the inside looks delicioius! I would have been very happy had you made this for me and I’m sure Arabella loved the taste as well. 🙂

  15. I’m glad you posted this so you could receive some realistic feedback about how lovely it is! I’m glad Arabella came in at just the right time. It sounds like a very stressful construction but I do think it is gorgeous.

  16. I think it looks like a work of art! And I bet it tasted wonderful.

  17. Hi Charlie, oh I think your cake is beautiful, how wonderful of you to make this for your daughter.

  18. That cake doesn’t look like a failure to me.

  19. This cake proves you’re human like the rest of us but braver because you posted it. 🙂 It looks delicious regardless the colour.

    One thing I’m confused about and it might just be my Americanness. You called it royal icing that you rolled. I thought royal icing was that icing you piped over things to do drapes and stuff and it was fondant you rolled.

    The doxie is cute. Did the girls stand still to model while you created that bit?

    • Hi Maureen, yes, royal icing is the stuff you use to make fancy things with and it sets like a rock. I think I mean fondant! I used Orchard icing and they call it ‘white icing’. I’ll change the name in the recipe. Thanks for letting me know.

  20. From my view there is nothing wrong with this cake. How can you not smile looking at that dachshund?!!

  21. It looks darned cute to me! I stink at crafty stuff, so I’d be thrilled if that cake came out of my kitchen. And you pleased the birthday girl, so I’d call it a success!

  22. I’m sure you’re the only one who saw any flaws in the cake Charlie, it certainly doesn’t sound like Arabella had a problem with it at all. My friend once spent hours making a life sized cricket bat cake for her son, only to have him walk in and say ‘what an awesome boat!’ He loved that boat so much and didn’t mind not having a cricket bat at all 🙂
    I think it looked very cute, and I hope the party was a huge success xox

  23. that is some pretty solid effort, last (and the first time ) , mario and luigi was sliding off my last (and first) 3d cake too!

  24. AMAAaaaazing.
    I am so envious!
    you. rock! xxx

  25. I’m totally with you. XO You are so lovely to keep trying and trying to get it right. I think it’s adorable. 🙂

  26. It looks great, and no-one would ever know all the trials and tribulations that went into it – because you see there are other ingredients too, like patience, persistence, and heaps of love for your daughter. You go all out for your kids. No wonder she thought it was really cute. It is.

  27. You’re being way too hard on yourself. I think it looks fantastic!

  28. Charlie, its absolutely gorgeous. And like others said, you would be the only one seeing the faults. I love it! If my mom made that for me, I’d be over the moon. Tops job lovely and even more that you share your less great cooking adventures. 🙂

  29. Its so beautiful. Cute and perfectly ok. Colouring doesn’t always do what we’d like!. Ill have to show my sisiter. She might want one for sausage & co.

  30. Don’t be so harsh on yourself – it looks and tasted great and Arabella loved it. Thanks for posting all the personally disappointing details so we know what went wrong and how you fixed it so it was still a wonderfully created piece. Superstar 🙂

  31. Wow, it must be difficult being a perfectionist! I genuinely think your recipe looks lovely, even if it is a little shockingly pink 😛
    Arabella loved it and it looks so cute so I think you did a FABULOUS job!

    Choc Chip Uru

  32. It still looked brilliant, though you didn’t think so, and hey the birthday girl loved it – and thats all that counts, plus it tasted awesome so in my eyes a success 🙂

  33. What on EARTH are you talking about Charlie? This dachshund cake looks perfect!! I wouldn’t have thought or known about all those mishaps you just described if you haven’t told me! I’m sure Arabella and everyone else appreciated the cake too! And I’m definitely with you, it’s OK to not succeed sometimes and I think that’s the best way for us to learn 🙂

  34. yes it is ok to share when things are not perfect – I love blogs for honesty and learning about what can go wrong – however I would be most impressed if I made this cake (layer cakes are my nemesis) – it looks great to me – but more importantly is that Arabella loved it – that is the measure of success.

  35. I can hear that you had a really difficult time making this cake, Charlie, but it’s adorable! I love it, and I’d be thrilled to have a cake that looked this beautifully and creatively prepared! I’m sure you are very hard on yourself, perhaps in part because you are so experienced and accustomed to closer approximation to perfection! But I am VERY impressed. I love the little dachsunds!

  36. WOW, this cake looks fantastic!! Happy Birthday, Arabella! 🙂

  37. We’re own own worst critics, Charlie.It was cute and cute is good enough…I’m sure it was delish!

  38. What a freakin awesome cake!!! I don’t see a thing wrong with this cake!!! You obviously are a perfectionist if you don’t think this cake is perfect. 🙂

  39. Your ugliest cake is always better than my prettiest–and of course, the end result of your cake-making yielded a perfect specimen. Well done, as always, Charlie, in spite of your trauma.

  40. Oh my word, seriously, this is gorgeous to me!!!!! I showed hubby, and told him how you felt about it. His response, she’s crazy (meaning, it looks fabulous!). Arabella was very lucky. So sweet of you to make for her bday! Sending hugs, Terra

  41. What a lot of work!! you’re such a good mom.

  42. I definitely believe we should post about our failures, it just gives a more realistic picture of us and our lives, and makes readers feel better about themselves. On the other hand, I would not consider this cake a failure: it looks great outside and inside!

  43. You are WAY to hard on yourself, Charlie Louie. I’d be ecstatic if I could make a cake that turned out this cute. I know it tasted great, too!

  44. Charlie, I’ve just come over from your IMK post to read more about the cake because I thought and still do, that it looks amazing – I thought you had bought it, it looks so professional! These sorts of posts are great because all of us have disasters that we have to cope with one way or another. I was recently asked to make a sugar free cake for a 1 year old’s party, and the first cake broke as I unmoulded it from the tin. As it wasn’t going to be iced I had to make a new one. On the morning of the party as I had made this one the night before!! I did blog about it and got a similar response to what you got here! Successes are great by so are disasters!!

  45. Adele Sherriff says:

    That’s amazing, my daughter Arrabella adores dachshunds as well, couldn’t believe it when I read this.
    Great cake too.


  1. […] is leftover from Arabella’s party.  She forgot to serve it!  I’m telling you now, this cake has given me more grief than you can poke a stick at.  Anyone want […]

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