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The Best Beach-Themed Party Cake for Summer

Beach Party Cake
PREP TIME
45 min
COOK TIME
28 min
YIELDS
12-16 servings

Take a day at the beach home to your table with this chic and playful cake. Combining a contemporary ombre effect with whimsical cake toppers, it’s the perfect design for a summer birthday celebration.

The cake itself is extremely moist and is bursting with flavours of zesty key lime and the sweet spiciness of fresh ginger. The buttercream is flecked with real vanilla bean and is silky smooth with a mild, creamy coconut taste. A simple wave pattern is achieved with the help of a rotating cake turntable, while a sprinkling of brown sugar adds texture and rounds out the sandy beach theme.

Related: 45 Easy Summer Dinners from The Pioneer Woman

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Ingredients

Key Lime Ginger Cake

3 ¼
cup cake flour
2
tsp baking powder
½
tsp baking soda
½
tsp ground ginger
¼
tsp salt
1
cup unsalted butter, softened
2
cups granulated sugar
1
Tbsp key lime zest
2
Tbsp key lime juice (4-5 key limes)
¾
tsp fresh grated ginger
6
egg whites, lightly whisked
1
cup full-fat coconut milk

Coconut Vanilla Buttercream

6
large egg whites
1 ½
cups granulated sugar
2 ½
cup unsalted butter, softened
1
vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
cup coconut cream or full-fat coconut milk
Gel food colouring in blue
¼
cup brown sugar

DIY Beach Cake Toppers

5
ounces fondant, white plus various colours.
Gel food colouring
Paring knife
Rolling pin
Ruler
Clean paint brush
Cardstock
Piping tip
Small flower cookie cutter
Popsicle stick
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Directions

Notes

Cake toppers take about 30 minutes to make. Cooling time totals about 30 minutes.

Step 1

For the key lime ginger cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 3 x 8″ round cake pans and set aside.

Step 2

Sift the dry ingredients together and set aside.

Step 3

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer, whip the butter until smooth. Add the sugar, lime zest and ginger. Mix on medium until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the lime juice and mix until combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Step 4

In a separate bowl, mix the egg whites and coconut milk. Set aside.

Step 5

With the mixer on low, add in half of the flour mixture. Add in the egg white mixture and mix until combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl. Add the remaining flour and mix until combined.

Step 6

Evenly distribute the batter between the 3 pans and bake for about 28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.

Step 7

For the coconut vanilla buttercream: In the bowl of an electric mixer, lightly whisk together the egg whites and sugar. Fill a saucepan with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer. Place the mixer bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double-boiler.

Step 8

Stirring intermittently, heat the egg white mixture until it registers about 160°F on a candy thermometer. Once hot, carefully transfer the mixer bowl back to the stand mixer.

Step 9

Using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks, or until the outside of the mixer bowl returns to room temperature, about 8 minutes. Stop the mixer and swap the whisk for the paddle attachment.

Step 10

With the mixer on medium-low, add in the vanilla bean seeds and butter, a few Tbsp at a time. Turn the mixer up to medium-high and mix until silky smooth. If at any point the buttercream appears curdled, just keep mixing. If the buttercream appears soupy, try placing it in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes then mixing again. Gradually add in the coconut cream and mix until combined.

Step 11

To assemble: Once the cakes have cooled, trim the tops to make them level, if necessary. Place one layer on a cake board or serving dish and top with about ¾ cup of the buttercream. Spread with an offset spatula. Top with the next layer of cake and repeat. Crumb coat the cake with the buttercream and chill in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.

Step 12

Of the remaining buttercream, tint about ⅓ blue with gel food colouring and set aside. After the crumb coat sets, place a large dollop of the plain buttercream on top of the cake and smooth out.

Step 13

Starting with the bottom half, add the blue buttercream all the way around the sides of the cake. Mix the remaining blue buttercream with the remaining white buttercream to create light blue. Fill in the sides with the light blue buttercream. Begin smoothing out the buttercream to create an ombre effect. Smooth out the top of the cake as best as possible. To create the wave pattern, place the cake on top of a cake turntable. Touch the end of a metal spatula to the bottom of the cake. As you spin the cake around, create a wave motion around the cake with the spatula as you gradually bring the spatula up the side of the cake until you reach the top.

Step 14

For the DIY beach cake toppers: Create a template for the surfboard out of cardstock and set aside.

Step 15

Roll out white fondant to about ¼-inch thick and use the template to cut out the shape.

Step 16

Roll colored fondant to about ¼- to ⅛-inch thick and use the ruler and paring knife to cut various strips. Adhere the strips to the surfboard using a touch of water and a clean paintbrush. Set aside to dry.

Beach party cale toppers
Step 17

For the inner-tube, roll out a piece of yellow fondant to about ½-inch thick. Use a round cookie cutter to cut out the shape. Use the round end of a piping tip to cut out the center.

Step 18

Using your fingertips, gently smooth and round out all of the edges to make the tube-shape. Roll out a different color of fondant to about ¼- to ⅛-inch thick and cut out small flowers with cutter. Adhere the flowers to the inner-tube with a touch of water and a clean paint brush. Set aside to dry.

Innertube topper for beach party cake
Step 19

Top the cake with brown sugar to resemble sand.

Step 20

To assemble, insert the Popsicle stick ¼ of the way into the cake. Insert just the very end of the dried surfboard into the top of the cake (directly in front of the Popsicle stick) and prop up the back with the Popsicle. Gently lean the dried inner-tube against the surfboard.

Beach party cake topper

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