Dinosaur Birthday Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
When our youngest grandson was turning 3 he asked me to make him a green dinosaur cake for his birthday. And who could say no to a request like that?

Our birthday boy knew the look he wanted but didn’t have a flavor preference. I chose a simple White Buttermilk Cake with two fillings, lime curd and raspberry, both mixed with luscious mascarpone cheese. A double recipe of American Buttercream tinted green and a chocolate ganache drip finished the basic cake. The sides of the cake are frosted with a rough finish because there is nothing smooth and pretty about dinosaurs.

Next, onto the decorations. I debated over trying to make edible dinosaurs from fondant or gum paste, but decided instead to buy some plastic dinosaurs to sit on top. I gave the dinosaurs a good washing with soap and water since they would be sitting right on the cake. Chocolate trees and different chocolate candies finished the top of the cake and the green dinosaur cake was complete. Tip: make sure your guests are aware that the plastic dinosaurs are non-edible.

You will notice full recipes below of the fillings, but I only used part of the recipes and had leftover which can be used for other recipes. The American Buttercream recipe below is a double batch of my original American Buttercream recipe.

Make ahead Tips: I like to make the cake layers the day before, wrap tightly in foil or plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. The layers are easier to work with and slice when they’re chilled and it definitely helps with time management. The Lime Curd and Raspberry Sauce can also be made the day before and refrigerated so they will be chilled and thick.
Recipe type: Dessert | Butter Layer Cake | Birthday Cake
Serves: 10 to 12 servings
Small amount of vegetable shortening and flour for preparing pans
Cake Batter:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups buttermilk, preferably whole buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
Lime Curd:
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest (about 3 large Persian limes)
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3 large Persian limes)
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 6 large egg yolks
Raspberry Sauce:
  • 1 12-ounce bag frozen unsweetened raspberries
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon water, divided
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
Mascarpone Frosting:
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
  • ¾ cup whipping (heavy) cream
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
American Buttercream:
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 7 cups confectioners’ (powdered) sugar, sifted before measuring
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons whipping (heavy) cream
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • Green Food Color Tip: I used AmeriColor Leaf Green
Ganache Topping:
  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 ounces milk chocolate, chopped into small pieces
  • ½ cup whipping (heavy) cream
  • 2 tablespoons Lyle’s Golden Syrup or light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Plastic dinosaurs Tip: I found these at our local Dollar Tree store.
  • ¼ to ½ cup (2 to 4 ounces) chocolate candy melts for chocolate trees. Tip: I used Merckens Coating Wafers. You could also use almond bark.
  • Various chocolate candies for ground decoration Tip: I used chocolate rocks, malted milk balls, mint balls, yogurt covered raisins, Ferroro Rocher candies
  • 2 cookie sticks, 1 broken in half to resemble a tree log, the other crushed in small food grinder for ground dirt
  • About 6 oreo cookies, crushed in small food grinder for ground dirt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare three 8-inch round layer cake pans; lightly grease the pans with shortening and dust with flour. Tip: to make baked cake easier to remove from pan, lightly grease the pan, line with parchment paper, and then lightly grease the top of the parchment paper and dust with flour. Tip: Use cake strips around the pans to help ensure the cake rises evenly. Make a cake strip with a length of aluminum foil long enough to encircle the pan with a little overlap. Fold the strip lengthwise until it is 2 to 3 inches wide. Wrap the strip around the outside of the pan and secure it with a metal paper clip or tape.
Cake Batter:
  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; sift or whisk together to mix. Set aside.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, stir the buttermilk and vanilla together. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Tip: To cream, start by placing the butter in the bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed begin by beating the butter about 1 minute until it is smooth and light in color. With the mixer still on medium speed, slowly add the sugar to the butter, either one tablespoon at a time, or in a very slow steady stream, taking from 4 to 8 minutes to add all of the sugar, and beating until the butter and sugar are fully incorporated and the mixture is a light, or pale-yellow color, with a fluffy texture. While adding the sugar, stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the mixture off the paddle and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, beating until thoroughly mixed.
  5. With the mixer on low speed, add about one third of the flour mixture, mix just until the flour is almost completely blended. Scrape the bowl down, and add about one half of the buttermilk mixture, blending just until mixed. Scrape the bowl down again and continue alternating with the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture, ending with the last portion of the flour, and stirring just until blended.
  6. Bake: Spoon the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with a small offset spatula or the back of a large spoon. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until a long toothpick, wooden skewer, or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and place pans on a wire cooling rack to cool for 10 to 15 minutes then remove cake from the pans and place the cake on the wire cooling rack to finish cooling. Tip: 33 minutes was the perfect bake time for my oven.
Lime Curd:
Tip: This recipe will make about 1½ cups of lime curd, however, I only used ¾ cup for this cake. The remainder may be saved and used for another recipe.
  1. In a medium-sized heavy saucepan over low to medium-low heat, combine butter, sugar, lime zest, lime juice, salt, and egg yolks. Cook and stir with a rubber spatula in a figure eights pattern around the edge of the pan and into the center, making sure to scrape the rubber spatula across the bottom of the pan. Cook until butter is melted and mixture is thickened, about 7 to 10 minutes, or registers from 170 degrees up to 180 degrees, (just below simmer,) using a candy or instant read thermometer to gauge the temperature. Important: Do not allow mixture to boil or the egg yolks will curdle. Tip: the curd will start to thicken at about 170 degrees and is fully thickened at about 180 degrees. Tip: A heat-resistant rubber spatula is best for stirring because it can scrape the entire bottom of the pot to help prevent the egg from clumping together and curdling.
  2. Immediately pour the hot mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl to strain out the lime zest pieces and any bits of egg that may have curdled. Let cool, stirring occasionally as it cools, then pour the curd into an airtight container and refrigerate. The curd will continue to thicken as it cools.
Raspberry Sauce:
Tip: This recipe will make about 1¼ cups of raspberry sauce however, I only used half for this cake. The remainder may be saved and used for another recipe.
  1. In a medium-size heavy-bottomed pan combine raspberries, ½ cup water, and sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes and the raspberries have broken down. Remove from the heat.
  2. Pour hot raspberry mixture through a fine-mesh sieve to strain out the solid pieces. Discard solids. You will have about 1⅓ cups of raspberry puree. Return the strained mixture to the pan off the heat.
  3. In a small mixing bowl combine cornstarch with remaining 1 tablespoon of water. Stir until smooth and cornstarch is dissolved. Whisk the cornstarch mixture into the raspberry puree. Bring the raspberry mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and bring back to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and stir constantly and cook for 1 minute more. Remove pan from the heat and let raspberry sauce cool to room temperature.
  4. When cooled use sauce as desired, or place in a covered bowl and refrigerate.
Mascarpone Frosting:
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine mascarpone cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and whipping cream; use an electric mixer and beat together until mixture is smooth. Add vanilla and continue beat 2 to 4 minutes or until frosting is thick and fluffy. Refrigerate until ready to use.
American Buttercream:
  1. In a large bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, place the butter and beat on medium to medium-high speed 3 to 4 minutes until it is smooth, creamy, and light in color.
  2. Reduce the speed to medium-low, add 1 cup of the powdered sugar and salt, beat until smooth. Add the heavy cream and vanilla and beat until well blended. Add the remaining powdered sugar about 1 cup at a time; beating after each addition until the frosting is smooth and creamy. Then continue beating for another 2 to 3 minutes on medium-high to high speed to make the frosting ultra-light and fluffy.
  3. Add a few drops of green food color beat on low to medium-low speed until color is thoroughly blended with the frosting.
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Prepare Raspberry Filling:
  1. Place 1 cup Mascarpone Frosting in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add ½ of the chilled raspberry sauce and stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to mix.
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Prepare Lime Curd Filling:
  1. Place remaining Mascarpone Frosting (about 2 cups) in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add ¾ cup of the chilled lime curd and stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to mix.
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  1. Using a long-serrated kitchen knife, split each cake into 2 horizontal layers.
  2. Place about 2 cups of green American Buttercream into a pastry bag fitted with a coupler. Tip: you won’t need a decorating tip. If using a disposable pastry bag, you could also just cut a small tip off the end instead of using a coupler.
  3. Place one of the bottom halves of the cake layers on a cake plate.
  4. Using the buttercream in the pastry bag pipe a border of buttercream around the outside top edge of the layer to hold the filling in. Then spread a scant ¾ cup of lime curd filling inside the buttercream border.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 with the next four layers, but alternate the fillings with the raspberry filling and the lime curd fillings. (You will have a total of 3 lime curd filling layers and 2 raspberry filling layers.)
  6. Place the last cake layer on top, upside down so the flat bottom of the cake is facing up to make a nice flat top.
  7. Crumb coat the cake by covering the sides with a thin layer of buttercream; smooth with an offset spatula, removing excess buttercream.
  8. Refrigerate the cake until the crumb coat is firm, about 30 minutes.
  9. Spread a thick layer of buttercream, about ¼ inch thick, over the top of the cake and smooth the top. This top layer of buttercream will give the ganache topping a nice flat surface to drip from.
  10. To create the rough finish on the sides of the cake use an offset spatula to add buttercream to the sides, smoothing as much or as little as you want.
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  12. Refrigerate the cake until the buttercream is firm, about 30 minutes. Tip: A chilled cake helps control the ganache drips from going all the way down to the bottom of the cake.
Ganache Topping:
  1. Prepare the ganache topping while the cake is refrigerating.
  2. Place the chopped semi-sweet chocolate and milk chocolate in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a small heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium low heat, heat the cream until it is hot and just beginning to steam and bubble around the edges. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Let mixture stand 5 to 10 minutes then gently stir with a rubber spatula or whisk until the chocolate is completely melted, the chocolate and cream is completely combined, and the mixture is smooth. Add Lyle’s Golden Syrup and vanilla extract, stirring until completely mixed.
  4. Let the ganache sit and cool about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. The ganache needs to be thick but still fluid to create drips.
  5. Use a kitchen spoon to place small spoonful’s of ganache topping around the top edge of the chilled cake and let the ganache drip down the sides of the cake. Tip: if the ganache isn’t dripping, then briefly warm the ganache so it is more fluid. If the ganache is just dripping off to the bottom of the cake, then the ganache is too warm and needs to be cooled before using.
  6. When the drips are completed, spoon additional ganache topping in the center of the cake to fill-in the top, smooth and spread evenly with a small offset spatula.
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  1. Chocolate Trees: Place the chocolate wafers in the top of a double boiler over hot water. Melt, stirring gently with a rubber spatula. Tip: Create a double boiler by filling a saucepan with 2 inches of water and bringing it to a simmer. Turn the heat off and place a stainless steel, ceramic, or glass bowl on top of the simmering water, the upper pan should not touch the water.
  2. Place the melted wafers in a pastry bag with a very small tip cut off. Gently squeeze the melted chocolate onto a large sheet of parchment paper in the shape of trees. Let trees set until completely firm, then gently slide a thin metal spatula under the trees to remove from the parchment paper.
  3. Place plastic dinosaurs on top of cake. Place chocolate trees, candy pieces and dirt to create the dinosaur scene.
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Recipe Notes
Pan: Three 8" Round Layers Pan Prep: Greased and Floured Oven Temp: 350° Storage: Cover and Refrigerate

Help: Cake Hints and Tips

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Recipe by at https://thebakingpan.com/recipes/cakes/dinosaur-birthday-cake/