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Christmastime Treats: Rosanna Pansino’s Reindeer Cake Recipe

Christmas is rapidly approaching, which means a lot of treats and desserts are in your future! Rosanna Pansino, author of BAKING ALL YEAR ROUND, shares her reindeer cake recipe. 

’Tis the season! This is the kind of cake that brings back so many wonderful memories of spending Christmas with my family. During the holidays, I used to dress up as Santa and my sister would be a reindeer. To this day, we still laugh about how we used to run around the house pretending to deliver presents. A traditional spice cake is a welcome addition to any festive feast or holiday party. Not only is this recipe delicious, it’s also super cute.

Ingredients for Fondant (makes one 6-inch three-layer cake):

  • Fondant: brown, dark brown, cream, black, white, green, and red

Ingredients for Spice Cake

  • 11/2 cups cake flour
  • 11/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Ingredients for Decorations:

  • 2 batches Swiss Buttercream Frosting
  • Brown food coloring Edible white candy pearls
  • 1 round chocolate candy (Milk Dud)


  • Teardrop cookie cutters: 1¾ inch and 21/2 inch (templates on page 249 of BAKING ALL YEAR ROUND)
  • Antler template
  • Eye template
  • Holly leaf template
  • Decorating tips: Two #824, #4B, #2A

Fondant Prep Steps: 

  1. Work with fondant on wax paper sprinkled with powdered sugar.
  2. For the antlers, roll out the brown fondant to 1/8 inch thick. Cut out 2 antlers using the template A .
  3. For the ears, roll out the dark brown and cream fondant to 1/8 inch thick. Use the teardrop cookie cutters to cut 2 large dark brown outer ears and 2 small cream inner ears. Using water, attach the small teardrops to the large teardrops B .
  4. For the eyes, roll out the black fondant to 1/4 inch thick. Cut out 2 eyes using the template. Roll 2 small balls of white fondant for the eye reflection and attach to the eyes.
  5. For the holly, roll out the green fondant to 1/4 inch thick. Cut out holly leaves using the template. Use a fondant tool or toothpick to make leaf details C . Roll 1/4-inch balls of red fondant for the holly berries.
  6. Set aside to harden for about 24 hours. Once dry, the antlers should stand upright without bending.

Getting Started:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease three 6-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg.
  3. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and honey until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Beat in the vanilla.
  6. On low speed, alternate adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
  7. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans and bake until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean, 40 to 42 minutes.
  8. Let cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Level off the tops with a cake leveler or a large serrated knife to create three 2-inch cake layers.

Decorating Steps: 

  1. Make the Swiss Buttercream Frosting. Tint half the frosting light brown.
  2. Stack the cake layers on top of one another with a thin layer of light brown frosting in between the layers. Frost the entire cake with light brown frosting.
  3. Divide the remaining frosting among 3 bowls D : Bowl 1: Tint light brown and scoop into a decorating bag fitted with a #824 tip. Bowl 2: Tint dark brown and scoop into separate decorating bags fitted with a #824 tip and a #4B tip. Bowl 3: Leave untinted and scoop into a decorating bag fitted with a #2A tip. Pipe the frostings on top of the cake for decoration.
  4. Place the fondant decorations on the cake: antlers, ears, eyes, and holly.
  5. Sprinkle pearls on top.
  6. Place the Milk Dud on for the nose.

Find recipes for every holiday with BAKING ALL YEAR ROUND by Rosanna Pansino!


Tips on Life & Love: Sweet Celebrations Recipe: Hidden Ornament Cupcakes


Excerpted from Baking All Year Round by Rosanna Pansino. Copyright © 2018 by the author. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.


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