baking · children · cooking · Dessert

The Big Dig Birthday Cake

This week was Alistaire’s 4th birthday. Very hard to wrap it around in my head he is 4 already. No more babies! With his allergies, I take the kids to Safeway to look at the big book of cakes, and ask them what they want. Well, Alistaire saw a Big Dig Birthday Cake and that was it. No more looking. So then, I knew I had to get dreaming of how to make it! And I had to make it cooler than anything you’d buy!

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The first part was finding the scale CAT Mini Machine 5 Pack, which I was able to find locally in a store. These worked perfectly. I washed them quickly, and left them to dry on a paper towel.


I won’t lie. I cheated and used a cake mix. Mostly because I just didn’t want a failure. When you bake vegan, or egg-free cakes, you have a 50/50% chance of the cake coming out of the pan in one piece. Let’s not discuss how many birthday cakes have become “cake balls” due to this. (Last birthday cake I made, I flipped the cakes and they ripped into multiple pieces, at least my kids don’t hate me when it happens.)

So my cheats this year?

I upgraded my cake pans to Wilton Perfect Results Nonstick Round Cake Pan, 9 by 1.5-Inch, Pack of 2 Pans.


I took the time to cut out parchment paper circles for the pans, lightly greasing the pans, putting down paper, then greasing the paper.

I upgraded the cake mix to the new Pillsbury Purely Simple Chocolate. The ingredient list is very, very short. For a cake mix, it was a great choice, and more so, easy to find in the grocery store.

Instead of eggs (due to Alistaire’s allergy), I used our go-to substitute, Ener-G Foods Egg Replacer. I mix it up, then let it sit for a few minutes, then whisk before adding. It produces a nice dryer cake (versus a heavy vegan style cake). You don’t want to use other vegan substitutes such as applesauce, or flaxseed slurry – the cakes will be heavy and less likely to bake evenly. The Ener-G produces a light cake.

The “logs” are Kit Kat Bars. I bought a snack bag (Halloween size) and used about 3/4 of the bag.

The “dirt” is ground up chocolate graham animal crackers. I whirled a box in my blender till it was a blend of fine and chunky.

1 batch or container of chocolate frosting.

The leaves and twigs are Wilton Leaves and Jimmies Sprinkle Mix, which I had found locally a few months back.


Once the cake was baked and cooled, I covered a cutting board with foil (taped down on the back side). Spread a thin amount of frosting in the center, place a layer of cake down, press gently. Frost the top thinly, then layer the next cake on top, pressing gently down. Frost the sides and top and smooth out. I didn’t do it very thick overall, as I knew I needed frosting for the look around the cake. Once the cake is frosted, press 2 Kit Kat pieces on top to rest the dump truck on. I dabbed a tiny bit of frosting on the wheels and attached it. It holds it quite well.

Then I spread a thin layer of frosting around the foil, mostly covering it. I added in more Kit Kat bars, attaching more big rigs. Then I heavily sprinkled on the “dirt” cookie crumbs, along with the sprinkles. To make the logs, I made a layer of Kit Kat bars, pressed into the frosting. For each additional layer, I thinly spread frosting on the bottom and built it up, with 4 layer. I dusted it with the sprinkles.

The tree stump is a cake ice cream cone, covered in frosting and “dirt” crumbs, with a fake rock on top. Every clear-cut out here always has one of those, where the loggers put a huge boulder on a tree.

And one happy 4-year-old boy…..

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One thought on “The Big Dig Birthday Cake

  1. I LOVE this cake! It is easy enough for a beginner, but the results are so impressive. Most importantly, it looks like your truck-loving Birthday Boy was very happy with it! :)Baking a special cake for the Birthday Boy/Girl was always an important tradition when my kids were young. In their 20’s now, they still talk about their favorites!

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