Sunday, June 16, 2013

Surprise Inside Cake - Hidden Polka Dots Recipe and Tutorial

Hope that all of you are enjoying summer where ever you are! Sun, fun and a little cake mixed in never hurt anyone.

It's been a long time coming but I've finally trimmed down the original Hidden Polka Dot Cake post. Hopefully this will make it easier to have polka dots in your life.

Hope to hear more of your success stories really soon!


Polka Dot Cake

Tutorial by Deborah Stauch

§  6 bowls for tinting
§  3 – 6” cake pans

§  2 white cake mixes
§  3 whole eggs (for cake balls)
§  3 egg whites (for second cake mix)
§  2/3 cup vegetable oil (divided)
§  1 1/4 cup (to replace water in 1st cake mix + 1/2 cup milk (2nd cake mix)
§  1 cup sour cream (optional for added moistness & density in 2nd cake mix)
§  2 small boxes of instant vanilla or white chocolate pudding
§  Non-stick baking spray with flour
§  AmeriColor soft gel pastes:

Orange 113                                  Lemon Yellow 107
Electric Pink 164                        Electric Green 162  
Sky Blue 103                              Mix of Regal Purple 130 & Electric Purple 165
§  AmeriColor or Wilton White coloring (optional)



§  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray pans with baking spray.
§  Prepare 1 white cake mix making the some of the adjustments recommended in the instruction guide with the cake pop pan. Suggested: Add 1 box of instant vanilla pudding and substitute milk for the water called for in the mix. Do not decrease the liquid or increase the amount of eggs listed in the cake mix instructions.              
§  Divide the batter into 6 bowls and tint each using about 1/2 t. of gel paste so that the colors remain vivid after baking. You will have batter left over to make another batch of cake balls for a different project.
§  Prepare cake ball pan by spraying the outside of the vents with baking spray. Pour tinted batters into cake ball pan – 3 balls of each color.

§  Bake at 350F for 13 minutes so the cake balls are just done and springy to the touch but not browned. This way they won’t dry out too much and float during the second bake time.
§  When cooled, trim the tops and edges to remove the ridges using sharp craft scissors.

§  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray pans with baking spray.
§  Prepare the 2nd cake mix as directed on the box using the all white method shown on the package with egg whites. Add a small box of instant vanilla pudding, 1 cup of sour cream, 3 egg whites, 1/2 cup milk and 1/3 cup vegetable oil to the dry mix. Make sure the cake mix does NOT have pudding already added. Add optional white color for even better contrast if desired.
§  Place just enough batter to cover the bottom of the prepared pans and set the cake balls on top.
§  Pour the batter evenly around the cake balls, saving a small amount to barely spoon over the top of the balls. Do not tap the pan.
§  Mark the edge of the pans w/batter where you want the balls to line up – and notch the cakes when they’re done.

§  Bake the filled 6” rounds for about 30-35 minutes until they pull from the sides of the pan and spring back when lightly touched. Do not use a toothpick to test.
§  If your cakes are not level or have bumps where the balls have risen, place a damp paper towel on top of each layer as soon as they are removed from the oven. Press the warm cake with something flat, like the bottom of a smaller pan. Invert the layers after 10 minutes onto a flat surface to finish cooling. Wrap the cooled layers in plastic wrap and freeze until solid.
§  Prepare frosting from recipe below. Double the recipe if you like tons of frosting.
§  Remove cake layers from freezer. Frost the tops of 2 layers and stack. Frost the top and sides and decorate as desired. Refrigerate until 1 hour before serving for cutting ease.

Wilton's Buttercream Icing (Pure White Version)
Yield: about 3 cups of icing

  1 cup solid vegetable shortening
  1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract Easy-Add clear vanilla extract
   4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (approximately 1 lb.)
  2 tablespoons milk
  1/2 teaspoon No-Color Butter Flavor
  Add up to 4 tablespoons light corn syrup, water or milk to thin for icing cakes.

In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.
For best results, keep icing bowl in refrigerator when not in use. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this icing can be stored 2 weeks. Rewhip before using.

For thin (spreading) consistency icing, add 2 tablespoons light corn syrup, water or milk.
Happy Caking!


Anonymous said...

I used your idea. I made a cake using drinking fountain cups (cone shaped)instead of dots. Then placed them several directions using bright colors in a dark chocolate cake. Lots of fun.

Deborah Stauch said...

So like this one?
Would love to see photos!
Happy Caking!

Cathy R said...

I can't wait to try this. I love how you have given your instructions with photos. Gives me more hope of success. What are the small balls on the top of the cake? Are they candy? I will follow your site! Thanks for making it fun to try new things.

Cathy R.

MsRevolution said...

Hi Deborah!
I've tracked down your tutorial because your cake looked so awesome!
Are there any suggestions or tips you have for me to make this using homemade cake?
I would like to make this for my son's birthday party as a two tier cake. However, I am doing a trial run for a work potluck. Is there anything additional I need to know use scratch cake?

Thanks so much!

Deborah Stauch said...


If you're using a scratch cake recipe a pound cake or another dense cake is best. Happy Caking!

MsRevolution said...

Thanks so much!

Abbagoose said...

So, if I were going to go the more homemade route, would use a pound cake for the rounds or the cake balls, or both? Making this for my daughters birthday tomorrow and would love to get started on it today.
Thanks so much for your wisdom!!

Anonymous said...

Did it look as cute using chocolate cake instead of white cake mix?

Deborah Stauch said...

You can see what Susie of Fold in the Flour did with the tutorial to make white vanilla polka dots in a chocolate cake here:

Happy Caking!

Unknown said...

Hi! Thanks so much for the tutorial! I ordered the pan from Amazon and love it! I followed the recipe that you and the pan manufacturer suggested (adding pudding and milk instead of water) and the batter was SO thick! It says to "pour" the batter in the pan, but I had to force it off the spoon! Any ideas? Did I mix it too much?


Deborah Stauch said...

Batter will thicken the longer it is left unbaked. It's always okay to loosen it a little by gently stirring in more liquid. We moved to a drier and higher climate and I find myself using that trick more and more. As long as you don't go overboard and make it runny it should work out fine. Any extra moisture will be baked out. It may slightly increase your baking time but it will be much easier to get the batter in the small pan openings.
Hope this helps.

lmc said...

So, I've tried this a couple times and I'm having issues with the cake balls rising. Couple questions: do you use baking strips on the outside of your pans for these? I get a hard crust on top of my cake before the rest of it is done - any thoughts?? Thanks!

Deborah Stauch said...

Sorry to hear that you're having difficulties. I do use baking strips. To avoid a hard crust on top, try laying a piece of foil over the top of your pan after the first 15 or 20 minutes. Don't seal the foil, just lay it gently on top. Using a dense cake like pound cake also helps with the rising issue.

Thanks for giving them a try!

Anonymous said...

Hi Deborah,
I'm excited to try this cake for my daughter's birthday! Can you please tell me what the little balls on the cake are? Thanks so much.

phtogrfer007 said...

I made this for a friend's birthday. I used 2 nine-inch pans and smaller cake balls, so I had 11 in each cake (8 in a large circle, three in the middle). I made them varying shades of green to blue. My friends liked the frosting, and were even more impressed when I cut into the cake. Thank you!

Here's a picture!

kimber said...

Have you tried to make this with a flavor? Other than chocolate? looking to make a Christmas cake- so i want to have a white cake with red inside and trying to figure out how to flavor it. tips, thoughts?

meg said...

This is so for me! I LOVE polka dots and baking. Can't wait to make this!! Thanks

Deborah Stauch said...

Kimber: any flavor you choose will work. Lorrann's has a huge selection of flavors to choose from.

Deborah Stauch said...

Meg: can't wait to see what you come up with!

jacklynn4 said...

My daughter and I are trying this right now! It is such fun. Who cares how the "tests" turn out, they still taste yummy:)

Deborah Stauch said...

Hope it turns out well and that you won't need too many test runs before you get a perfect cake!

Unknown said...

It doesn't look like you used any dowels or supports, are they hiding?

Deborah Stauch said...

I didn't use any dowels or supports for this cake. Thanks for stopping by!

Anonymous said...

I so wish I read the comments batter was so thick I could only make 2 6" cakes and they did not even rise completely. I had to mix up another cake for the 3rd layer and that one will be much thicker than the other two. Should have done a test run but no time, bday party tomorrow. At least its for my close family, doesn't have to be perfect. Next time I will perfect it! =) Still, fun idea =) thanks for sharing.

Deborah Stauch said...

It will be perfect to your family because you baked it with love. Thanks for giving it a go.

Unknown said...

Hi there,can I use whole eggs for the cake and use some whitening to lighten it and is the sour cream necessary .. Carmel

Deborah Stauch said...

The sour cream helps make the cake denser and richer but it can be left out. Whitening with whole eggs is also fine, it just may not be as white. Happy Caking!

Heather @ Raising Memories Blog said...

Thanks so much for your great idea & post! I made a cake with it recently and posted about what I learned on my blog (with a link back to your tutorial) here:

Deborah Stauch said...

Hi Heather!
Thanks so much for sharing your tips and for giving the tutorial a try. Turned out great and I love the exterior.
Happy Caking!

Carmel said...

Hi Deborah. I made the cake now twice, first time the cake mix that I used called for full eggs, in Australia I couldn't find white cake mix,so then I added the sour cream and vanilla pudding, it was way too thick so I added more milk.the second time I used just the cake mix on its own no sour cream or pudding and added whitening, colour was good and the mix was easier to handle.The trouble that I have is each time no matter even if I freeze the cake balls they will always come up past the surface of the cake, is there a way of keeping them down while the cake is baking,,help. If I press them down with a damp paper towel I find that it squashes the cake and changes the texture of the cake .
Cheers carmel

Deborah Stauch said...

Hi Carmel!
So sorry to hear that you are having trouble with the balls floating. Since cake mixes, altitudes, ovens, baking time and a number of other variables can affect this and other surprise inside cakes, you might want to try either a pound or madiera cake batter. These denser batters help hold the balls or shapes in place during baking.
Thanks so much for giving the tutorial a try!

Bradley said...

I have a question, when making the cake, you say mix as directed on the box for the white cake, but then also say to add oil, egg, milk, sour cream, is this in addition to the oil, eggs, and water that is listed on the box, or is this all in substitution to the ingredients on the box? Im a new baker, so Im sorry if this is a dumb question, but I would appreciate some clarification.
Thank you.

Deborah Stauch said...


I'm a firm believer that there are no dumb questions. The ingredients should be substituted for those on the box. Sorry for the confusion.


donnelly7118 said...

Hi. I tried making this tonight.. Got very frustrated.. Cake balls were ok.. but the cake batter was so thick I couldn't cover them in the pan. I actually pulled the balls out and ran to the store at 10pm to start all over again! I couldnt understand the directions about making the cake as the box says and then add the further instructions. the 1st time I only added the 1/2 c milk, sour cream, eggs etc,,, way too thick. So the 2nd round I follow the box actually, then added sour cream, extra 1/2 cup milk. It was still very thick and didnt pour well but I did as well as I could. Its baking now but I'm really nervous.. I also was only able to do 2 pans.. HELP!!!

Deborah Stauch said...

So sorry to hear that you are having problems. You did it right the second time. The ingredients are for 6" rounds so you'll need more batter if you are doing larger cakes.

Thicker batter is what you are looking for. Otherwise the balls don't stay put.

Hope this helps.


elaine said...

just to be clear...
i need the sour cream, right? its not in the list of ingredients, but it says i need it in the white cake recipe...

also, 1/3 c oil goes into the dot recipe and 1 3/c ids for the cake recipe?

just a little confused...

Mara H said...

What cake pan did you use for the cake balls? Thanks in advance!

Deborah Stauch said...


You can see the cake pan here: Thanks for stopping by!

Anonymous said...

I am fixing to make this, I noticed it said on the cake part not to use a mix with pudding already in the mix but it didn't say that on the cake ball part does it matter on the cake ball part I have 2 boxes with pudding in mix already

The Super Housewife/Mummy said...

I am attempting your cake this weekend and have a couple of questions, I live in New Zealand so am going to make a pound cake do I still add sour cream and the instant pudding? Also as you only use 2 cake mixes do I essentially just make 2 pound cakes? Thanks heaps

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Anonymous said...

The cake looks awesome what did you use as dots to decorate the frosting top bottom and question mark “?”