When I was a kid, we had LOTS of birthdays at my house. With 6 kids, it was inevitable. Also, with 6 kids, my parents couldn't really afford to go out and buy cakes every time a birthday rolled around. Heck, I can't afford it either - the last one I bought for my granddaughter was $40! I can tell you that I will never do that again.
My grandmother helped out though. She made the cakes when my mother was too harried to do it herself, and every now and then, she would show up with CIRCUS cake! No one ever saw her do it, so it was a mystery as to how this was accomplished...
When she died, we were going through her stuff and cleaning out cabinets when this very odd piece of tin that looked like a cooley hat turned up. It was just bent around and held together with a tack. It was the form for the circus cake!!!! My uncle had it for a while, but when I decided to try making a circus cake for my son's second birthday, he gave it to me. The torch has apparently been passed.
What I didn't know was how much effort circus cake took. No wonder Grandma didn't do it very often. I was cured of making lots of circus cakes after the first try. Don't get me wrong, I figured out how to do it and the cake turned out very well, but it takes time, two cake mixes, two tubs of frosting, a steady hand and lots of baking time.
My brother Matt has a birthday coming up, but since my parents would be out of town the weekend of his birthday, we all decided to have his birthday THIS weekend. And I was elected to make the cake. So I called Matt and asked him what kind of cake he wanted.
"CIRCUS CAKE!" Well, I actually meant chocolate, vanilla, yellow, or blueberry - but circus cake is pretty self-explanatory. In our tradition, that means chocolate cake and white icing.
So... circus cake it was. Because so much icing is involved, I opted for Devil's Food cake. It's not quite a sweet at some of the other chocolate cakes.
I just mixed up the cake mix according to the directions. For the first mix, bake in regular round cake pans (2). When they're about ready to come out, mix up the second one. I lined the form with parchment paper, balanced it in a custard cup on a cookie sheet and cooked it at a lower temperature.
The middle part doesn't bake all the way, but since you're going to trim off the non-cone part anyway, it doesn't really matter. If you cook it until the whole thing is done, the cone part is overcooked and dry. As it was, I still had to scoop out some not-quite-cooked bits from the middle and filled them with some of the cut-off parts. The final product looks a lot like a giant Hershey's kiss, don't you think?
Ice the bottom two layers. I used two toothpicks to hold them together. Then put the "kiss" on the top and ice it all. Top, sides...
Then, of course, came the ever-present dilemma of how to transport the thing. It's too tall for regular cake-holders. Fortunately, we had a box that was just the right size.