These mini cakes were inspired by a Mother’s Day mermaid table setting. (Click here to see the mermaid table that coordinates with this cake.) They are fun to decorate and the end result is forgiving of mistakes and looks like a pro made them!

This recipe uses a 15 x 11-inch sheet cake for cutting out mini cakes with a 3-inch cookie cutter.

Once the cake and frosting are ready, separate the frosting into six bowls. Set aside one bowl of white frosting (for white scales) and then color the other five bowls as directed in the recipe below.

After all the frosting bowls have the colors mixed in, it is time to decorate. Start by adding lemon curd to the top of a cake and then stack another cake on top.

Place frosting colors into separate piping bags and cut off the bag tips.

To make scales, start at the bottom of the cake and place a large dot of frosting. The larger the dot, the larger the scales will be.

Using a spoon, gently press the dot with the tip of the spoon and pull the frosting upwards.

Wipe any leftover frosting from the back of the spoon and add another dot in a different color next to the first dot. Repeat the press-and-pull technique. Rotating colors, go all the way around the cake until the first layer of frosting scales are complete. Be sure to wipe the back of the spoon each time so the colors don’t get mixed. Then start the next row above the first by placing a dot at the top of a bottom-row dot, pressing the dot, and pulling upwards. Be sure to place the frosting dot low enough on the first row so that it overlaps the first row.

Continue rotating colors and adding scales until the cake is fully decorated.

I used colors that matched my mermaid table setting. However, you can use any colors that you want. Always remember to have a very light color and a dark one if you want contrast. Also, it is eye-catching to use an unexpected color with your color scheme such as the pink that I used with all the shades of blue and green.

When finished, place color-coordinated sprinkles on the top of the cake in the center. The sprinkles will hide any awkward stopping point. There is one little secret to making this cake perfect – having a level cake to decorate. I use baking strips and my cakes are level most of the time. In the recipe notes, I tell you how to make baking strips. Otherwise, you will need to level your cakes by cutting off any top knots.

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Pink Lemonade Mermaid Cakes
A recipe for an easy-to-make cake with buttercream frosting and mermaid scales.
Votes: 3
Rating: 5
Rate this recipe!
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 50-55 minutes
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 50-55 minutes
Votes: 3
Rating: 5
Rate this recipe!
Directions for Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare cake pan by coating with shortening and then dusting with flour. Then place a long sheet of parchment paper in the pan letting it extend 4 to 5 inches over each side of the pan.
  2. If using wet baking strips to help ensure a flat cake, place them around the prepared pan. (See note below about baking strips and how you can make your own.)
  3. In a large mixing bowl add the lemon zest, lemon juice, buttermilk, sour cream, vanilla, whole eggs, egg whites, and vegetable oil. Whisk until thoroughly mixed.
  4. In a mixing bowl, sift the cake mixes, 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour, and Kool-Aid together until thoroughly mixed. Stir dry ingredients into the liquid mixture until combined and smooth. Don’t overmix.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan on top of the parchment paper. Bake at 325 degrees F for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean or with cooked crumbs. If using baking strips, check the cake with a toothpick at 55 minutes. If the inserted toothpick comes out clean, the cake is done. If not, cook for additional 5-minute increments, checking after every 5 minutes. Cool in pan for a few minutes. Then using the parchment paper handles, lift the cake out of the pan and cool on a wire rack.
  6. When cool, if necessary, level the domed cake with a knife by shaving off the peaks.
  7. When the cake is cool, using the parchment handles again, move the cake to a flat surface. Use the cookie cutter to cut 12 circles out of the cake. On 6 of the cakes, spread a layer of lemon curd. Place the other 6 layers on top of the lemon curd layers to make 6 mini layer cakes. Place the cakes on little cake stands or small plates now because they will be hard to move when they are decorated.
Directions for Buttercream
  1. Using a large mixing bowl and mixer, beat the butter and shortening until smooth. Add the vanilla extract, salt, lemon juice, lemon zest, and cream. Beat well. Sift in the powdered sugar and beat until smooth, 3-5 minutes.
  2. Separate the frosting evenly in 6 bowls. Set one bowl aside. You will not color it.
  3. In the second bowl, stir in 2 drops of blue food coloring until the color is distributed. This color will be light blue.
  4. In the third bowl, stir in 4 drops of blue and 4 drops of green. This is a light teal color.
  5. In the fourth bowl, stir in 9 drops of blue and 9 drops of green to make a darker teal color.
  6. In the fifth bowl, stir in 3 drops of green and 2 drops of yellow to make a lime green color.
  7. In the sixth bowl, stir in 2 drops of pink food coloring.
  8. Place each frosting color in separate piping bags with the ends cut off or zipper storage bags with one corner cut off each bag.
  9. Practice making mermaid scales. Place a dot of color on a plate. Use a spoon tip and light touch to press the dot and pull the frosting upwards. After practicing, place the practice frosting back in the appropriate colored frosting bag.
  10. Starting at the bottom of the cake, place your first dot of frosting. Press the dot with the tip of the spoon and then pull upwards to spread the frosting. Clean the back of the spoon between each frosting color. Use alternating colors and repeat until the bottom row is finished. Circle the cake each time with a new row. Continue until the cake is completely covered in scales. Repeat for all cakes.
  11. Add coordinating sprinkles on the top middle of each cake.
Recipe Notes

To get a flat cake without a middle dome, use wet baking strips around the cake pan.  You can buy these at craft stores in the cake-baking section, or you can make your own.  To make a strip that you pin together with safety pins, cut a towel long enough to fit around your cake pan and tall enough to fold over and make a double thickness. Wet the strip until very damp, but not dripping.  Overlapping the ends, pin the strip with safety pins until it fits securely around the pan.  Then fill the pan with batter and bake until an inserted toothpick comes out clean or with crumbs.  I usually have to add extra baking time because cakes generally bake slower with wet strips.  Baking strips work by keeping the cake edges from cooking quickly during the baking process, which helps to keep the cake layers from forming a  middle dome.

Makes (6) 3-inch cakes.


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