Retro Garfield Cake

Every year I collaborate with my friend Eve to make a themed Cake Wreck for her birthday, and this year she gave me a doozy of an assignment: a vintage Garfield cake mold.

Image of a 1980s Garfield-shaped cake, decorated. Garfield is an orange cartoon cat with stripes. The mold is designed to look like Garfield holding a slice of cake with a candle in it. The cake is decorated entirely in American buttercream. The stand under the slice says, "Happy Bday Eve."
Image of a 1980s Garfield-shaped cake, decorated. Garfield is an orange cartoon cat with stripes. The mold is designed to look like Garfield holding a slice of cake with a candle in it. The cake is decorated entirely in American buttercream. The stand under the slice says, “Happy Bday Eve.”

Eve found the mold at a thrift shop last year. The mold is supposed to come with a plastic face piece so that you don’t have to pipe on Garfield’s eyes, ears, mouth and nose, but since we didn’t have it, I did it by hand. (And connected the eyes to the ears because why note?) If you’re planning to freehand it like I did, using some cake scraps to build up the face is a great idea–in fact, that’s precisely what I planned to do. However, the cake didn’t need to be leveled because it didn’t rise over the tin or dome, so some folks just got more frosting.

Garfield Cake | I'll Make It Myself 2
Image: Witness the decorating on the side of the cake. There’s about 2 inches of Garfield’s foot, tail, and back that had to be frosted.

I think out of the cakes I’ve made for Eve (80s Business Lady, EVE Talks), this is my favorite so far. It’s hard to strike a balance between making a cake that is delicious and technically correct and only decorated like Cake Wrecks. The Garfield cake is the perfect combination of getting to practice my decorating skills with a cake design that inevitably was going to look like it were 1981 all over again whether I messed up or executed the design plan flawlessly.

Image of the finished cake with its pan. The pan shows the outline of Garfield with the cake but has a flat blank spot where the eye piece would go.
Image of the finished cake with its pan. The pan shows the outline of Garfield with the cake but has a flat blank spot where the eye piece would go.

Plus, it reminded me of all the arts/crafts and cake design from in the 80s and early 90s—and all the vegetable shortening! The instructions for the pan state, in no uncertain terms, that if you use anything other than vegetable shortening, your cake will NOT unmold. No butter, no margarine, no cooking spray, no oil. Luckily, one of my friends who is in the Crisco camp of pie-crust making (I am solidly Team Butter, sorry, friend) permanently lent me a tub of Crisco when she moved, so I didn’t have to buy any. 

Instructions to make a Dinnertime Garfield Cake: the cake slice is decorated to look like a piece of lasagna and the lettering reads, “I never met a lasagna I didn’t like,” and the Valentine Garfield Cake: the cake slice section is decorated like a pink layer cake and the lettering says, “From Garfield, with love.”
Instructions to make a Dinnertime Garfield Cake: the cake slice is decorated to look like a piece of lasagna and the lettering reads, “I never met a lasagna I didn’t like,” and the Valentine Garfield Cake: the cake slice section is decorated like a pink layer cake and the lettering says, “From Garfield, with love.”

And hey, if you’re investing in this pan, you can use it for all seasons. Happy birthday, Eve!

  • Cake: “Four Egg Cake” by The Joy of Cooking, 2006 ed., pp. 714-15. The cake mold instructions call for a 2-layer cake mix or a recipe that makes two layers. This recipe is very reliable, so I use it for most of my vanilla -flavored cakes.
  • Frosting: “American Buttercream” by Sprinklebakes, p. 81. The cake mold instructions called for 3.5 cups of buttercream or three packages of vanilla frosting.
  • Food coloring: Wilton’s leaf-green, brown, orange, and golden yellow colors.
  • Garfield cake pan by Wilton
  • Ateco tips: 4 (writing), 16 (stars), 32 (zigzags). I used a tiny silicon spatula to smooth the frosting on the cake, plate, and eyelids.

 

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