MOORHEAD — "That doesn't look that hard."

Famous last words.

The other night, my husband was marveling at the amazing "realistic" cakes taking the internet by storm. You've seen the videos.

The cakes are simply amazing — no two ways about it. But I've made a few of these impostor cakes in the past. So I thought, maybe, just maybe, I could make what looked like the easiest of the cakes in these viral videos — the toilet paper cake. After all, it's a small cake and because toilet paper is white with no print, you don’t need to use food coloring or edible markers.

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So with hopes high, I set out to try. Here's how it went. (Hint: I will not be leaving The Forum anytime soon to open my own specialty bakery.)

Toilet Paper Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 boxed cake mix (and items needed to make the cake)
  • Cake pans (a set of three 4-inch pans fit perfectly, but you could also make three 8-inch cakes — you might need two boxes of cake mix — and then trim a few inches off the outsides)
  • 1 small tub of white frosting
  • 1 small box of white fondant
  • 1 small round cookie cutter (or something that can cut an small hole)
  • Vegetable shortening
  • Cornstarch
  • Assorted fondant tools for decorating (I used Wilton's "I Taught Myself To Decorate Cakes With Fondant" book set with fondant cutter and tools).

Directions:

Bake the three cakes, let them cool, then trim off the tops to make them flat.

To make the toilet paper cakes, I used three 4-inch cake pans and trimmed off the tops of the cake to make them flat on top. Tracy Briggs / The Forum
To make the toilet paper cakes, I used three 4-inch cake pans and trimmed off the tops of the cake to make them flat on top. Tracy Briggs / The Forum

Stack small cakes on top of each other and trim down until it's close to the shape of a toilet paper roll.

Stack the cakes on top of each other and trim any edges that stick out. Tracy Briggs / The Forum
Stack the cakes on top of each other and trim any edges that stick out. Tracy Briggs / The Forum

Unstack the cakes and chill in the freezer for about 30 minutes or longer.

(I should have chilled them longer. That is called foreshadowing. Stay tuned.)

Cut a hole in the center of the top cake. (I didn’t have a round cookie cutter, so I used an empty water bottle).

Things were starting to go a little south here, as you can see in the picture. I actually had started to frost the cake when I realized I hadn't cut the hole yet.

I didn't have a round cookie cutter the right size, so I used an empty bottle of KIND water. Tracy Briggs / The Forum
I didn't have a round cookie cutter the right size, so I used an empty bottle of KIND water. Tracy Briggs / The Forum

I started to frost the cake, for real this time. As much as I thought I had chilled the cakes, I should have chilled them longer. Patience has never been my strong suit. If I had chilled them longer, I wouldn't have gotten the nasty crumbs in the frosting. I did my best to smooth out the frosting. I didn't have the proper tool, so I used something I use to scrape dirty dishes. Nothing but class here, folks. I promise it was clean.

Frost the cake. It doesn't need to be neat because the fondant will cover any crumbs seen in the frosting, but try to make the frosting as smooth as possible. Tracy Briggs / The Forum
Frost the cake. It doesn't need to be neat because the fondant will cover any crumbs seen in the frosting, but try to make the frosting as smooth as possible. Tracy Briggs / The Forum

I was starting to feel like hot stuff here. I had spread out vegetable shortening on my counter to keep the fondant I was rolling out from sticking. I made a lovely circle. Then, I laid the circle on top of my cake, cutting out the hole. I thought it was looking pretty good at this point. (Gosh, I bet the Food Network is going to call and offer me my own show.)

After rolling the fondant out into a circle, place on top of the cake, and cut a hole in the center. Tracy Briggs / The Forum
After rolling the fondant out into a circle, place on top of the cake, and cut a hole in the center. Tracy Briggs / The Forum

A lot of professional bakers have specific pastry cutters. I don't. But my husband has tools in the garage, so I found a tape measure to make sure the fondant I rolled for the side of the cake was the right size.

Measure twice, cut once. The white powder on the counter was cornstarch that keeps the fondant from sticking while it's being cut.

Roll out the strip of fondant on cornstarch so it doesn't stick. Make sure it's close to the same size as your cake. Tracy Briggs / The Forum
Roll out the strip of fondant on cornstarch so it doesn't stick. Make sure it's close to the same size as your cake. Tracy Briggs / The Forum

I thought the next step was pretty cool. In the fondant kit I bought, there was something called an "impression mat," which helps texture the fondant. I thought this kind of looked like quilted toilet paper. Forgive the blurry photo. I had cornstarch in my eyes.

An impression mat will put texture on the fondant. The mat I found gave the "toilet paper" a quilted look. Tracy Briggs / The Forum
An impression mat will put texture on the fondant. The mat I found gave the "toilet paper" a quilted look. Tracy Briggs / The Forum

I rolled up the fondant and unrolled it on the cake. You can see I made it too big. I wanted to make sure I had enough fondant, but this was way too much, and it kind of made it difficult to decorate (that, and my complete inability to make a toilet paper cake).

Unroll the "quilted" fondant onto the sides of the cake. Tracy Briggs / The Forum
Unroll the "quilted" fondant onto the sides of the cake. Tracy Briggs / The Forum

I tried to make the rings on top of the toilet paper roll using a small knife. Meh. It really looked horrible. I just wanted to stop at this point and have a gin and tonic on the deck.

Use a small knife to cut grooves into the top of the cake. Tracy Briggs / The Forum
Use a small knife to cut grooves into the top of the cake. Tracy Briggs / The Forum

To make matters worse, my cake was starting to get kind of warm, probably from the body heat I was emitting trying to make this cake without completely losing my mind. Again, if I had chilled the cake longer, it might have helped. (Did I mention that?)

The fondant started to tear, and the roll of toilet paper started to lose its shape... like someone had dropped it in the toilet.

My finished product looked a little like toilet paper that accidentally fell in the toilet. Tracy Briggs / The Forum
My finished product looked a little like toilet paper that accidentally fell in the toilet. Tracy Briggs / The Forum

But I was done. I cut into it. At least it was satisfying to see the delicious dark chocolate cake inside.

Cutting into the "roll of toilet paper" is satisfying. Tracy Briggs / The Forum
Cutting into the "roll of toilet paper" is satisfying. Tracy Briggs / The Forum

While my cake didn't turn out nearly as nice as the cakes in the video (aka Tracy, don't give up your day job), I really had fun making it, and the cake tasted great. But I don't see myself making these cakes very often. In fact, at my house, from now on, the toilet paper will stay in the bathroom.

One little toilet paper cake was a lot of work. Mad respect to the professionals who do this every day. Tracy Briggs / The Forum
One little toilet paper cake was a lot of work. Mad respect to the professionals who do this every day. Tracy Briggs / The Forum