St. Patrick’s Day Leprechaun Hat Cake (photo, recipe)

Their Irish eyes will pop when you cut into this St. Patrick's Day Leprechaun Hat Cake and find a rainbow and pot of gold.

If you want to dazzle your St. Patrick’s Day crowd, here’s a surprise-inside cake that should do it. You can use boxed mixes or your own recipe, and you’ll need one 8-inch cake pan and one or more 6-inchers. This is a good time to invest, although inexpensively, in a turning cake plate and bench scraper to give a finished look. Most craft stores have them.

— Debbi Snook

Leprechaun Hat Cake
24 servings

Batter from a two-layer yellow cake recipe, doubled to make four layers (or 2 boxes of yellow cake mix)

Frosting from buttercream recipe for two-layer cake, doubled

1 box of assorted food colors for cake (red, yellow, blue, green), preferably McCormick

1 bottle black food coloring (for frosting), preferably McCormick

1 bottle green food coloring (for frosting), preferably McCormick

1 teaspoon vanilla extract, preferably McCormick

2 cups candy gold sixlets and sprinkles (sold at candy shops and cake decorating stores)


At least two, 6-inch round cake pans and one 8-inch round cake pan

One 3-inch round cookie cutter (or same size cardboard cutout and a paring knife)

Pastry bags

Decorating tips #789 and #48

Small offset spatula

Bench scraper

Cake stand

Rotating cake stand

Equipment note: If you’re making the cake over several days with only one or two cake pans, consider removing, cooling and freezing finished cake layers so you can re-use the pans. Wrap in plastic and then in foil.

Prepare cake batter: Divide cake batter into 6 bowls. Five of the bowls will have approximately 1 1/4 cups of cake batter and the sixth will have 2 cups. The sixth cup is for purple, which is the base layer and is baked in an 8-inch round cake pan.

Color the batter: Add red food color to the first bowl (anywhere from 10-30 drops depending on how deep you want the color to be), add red and yellow to the next bowl, yellow in the next bowl, green in the next bowl, blue in the next bowl, then red and blue in the last bowl. You will need more food color in the last bowl (purple) as there is more cake batter. Stir well. If you want to deepen the color at all you can add more food coloring as needed, but the colors in the cake batters will deepen slightly when baked.

Bake: Follow package or recipe instructions to bake the layers. Allow to cool. If necessary, cut or press layers to level them. Chill until ready to assemble.

Shape: Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter (or sharp paring knife) remove the center portion from the yellow, green, and blue cakes.

Prepare buttercream: Follow package or recipe directions to make roughly 10 cups buttercream. Divide it like this: 5 cups green (add vanilla to this), 3 cups left white, 1 1/2 cups black, 1/2 cup yellow. You will not use all of the black frosting but because of the size of the #789 nozzle, it’s best to make more than needed.

Assembly: It helps to place cake stand directly on top of a rotating cake stand. Place the 8-inch round purple layer on cake stand. Place a thin layer of white buttercream on top of the purple layer. Now add the blue layer, making sure it is centered on the cake. Cover in a thin layer of white buttercream. Next place the green layer, then buttercream, then yellow layer and buttercream. Pour in the gold sixlets and sprinkles mixture, filling completely. Place orange layer on, add buttercream, then finally red layer. If you are pausing here (completing  over the course of a couple days), cover the cake in a thin coat of frosting (crumb coat) and chill until final frosting.

Final frosting: Cover the cake with green buttercream. Smooth out the green buttercream using an offset spatula and then finishing with the bench scraper for smooth sides. Using your black frosting in a pastry bag with the #789 tip, pipe out a band around the 6-inch cake base. Go to the best side of your cake and pipe out a “buckle” in yellow frosting with a #48 tip.

Serving: Chill until ready to serve.

Source: Recipe adapted from For visual instructions as well, see step by step process online.



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