September 22, 2006

Hula Girl Cut-Up Cake

Filed under: Tiki — Humuhumu @ 12:15 pm
Hula Girl Cut-Up Cake
Hula Girl Cut-Up Cake

At one of my other sites, Humuhumu’s Life in Photos, there are more than 14,000 photographs documenting the past three years of my life. With all the traveling I’ve done to check out tiki places all over the country in the past three years, it is not just a documentation of my life — it’s a documentation of the modern state of tiki. So, you’d think that most of the traffic would be from people wanting to check out tiki places and see pictures from tiki events. And I suppose that a lot of the people who visit Humuhumu’s Life in Pictures fit that profile, but a quick look at the site statistics can be startling: about a fifth of the traffic is to see the same 21 pictures — that’s 20% of the traffic to just .1% of the photos.

My 1959 Baker's Coconut Cut-Up Cakes brochure
My 1959 Baker’s Coconut
Cut-Up Cakes brochure

Those 21 pictures are scans of a small brochure published by Baker’s Coconut in 1959, with instructions to create cakes shaped like animals by cutting up sheet cakes and cake rounds and reassembling them: Cut-Up Cakes. I added them to my galleries a full two years ago, and they still generate a lot of interest: in just the past two weeks, a full 30% of the search-driven visits to Humuhumu’s Life in Photos have been from variations on the search term “cut-up cakes;” the three most popular search terms used in finding the site are “cut up cakes,” “cut-up cakes,” and “animal cakes.”

My grandmother probably ordered away for the brochure back in 1959, and my Mom wound up with it; I grew up with it, and each birthday my brother or I would deliberate over which cake would be this year’s birthday cake. It was a huge part of my childhood, and since posting the brochure, I’ve had scads of messages from others with the same memories, who have been thrilled to rediscover the brochure. I can’t help but wonder if Baker’s Coconut has experienced a spike in sales in the past two years.

My birthday is next Monday, and I decided that this year, I would make not just a Cut-Up Cake, but one of my own design: a hula girl. The cake is made up of pieces from a 9″ round cake. I’m pretty happy with it, for a first pass. Her legs are a little chunky, but I’ve never heard a song that went “lovely hula legs…” anyhow.

Full instructions, including a template, after the jump.

Hula Girl Cut-Up Cake, by Humuhumu
Hula Girl Cut-Up Cake, by Humuhumu

Bake a cake in a round cake pan; I used a 9″ round, but a smaller size would probably work just fine. I used some basic boxed yellow cake mix, which handled the cuts very well. Feel free to experiment with other cake recipes, but consider whether the cake recipe you want to use will hold together well when it’s cut. After baking, the center of the cake will be raised; if you’d like, you can cut the top off of the cake with a bread knife to even out the height of the different pieces (I didn’t bother to do that with this cake).

One box of mix makes two round cakes, for two hula girls
One box of mix makes two round cakes, for two hula girls
Cut along the pattern pieces
Cut along the pattern pieces
Arrange the pieces
Arrange the pieces

One box of cake mix will give you two round cakes, each can be a hula girl. I only cut up one of the cakes. Cut the cake up according to the pattern; if neccessary, you can cut pattern pieces out of wax paper or parchment paper (or, if you’re a terrible cook like me, laser printer paper). I used a serrated bread knife, and it worked great. Once the pieces are cut out, arrange them like the picture. One of the arms will get turned upside-down to get the angle right, and the legs… the legs need work. Improvise a bit on the legs, and you’ll do fine. There’s an extra scrap piece near the head, you can use some of that to create better legs, or to snack on while you work.

Frost the cake with lightweight icing
Frost the cake with lightweight icing
The hula girl, after frosting
The hula girl, after frosting

Frost the entire cake, using a lightweight frosting. You want a lightweight frosting because there are a lot of crumbly, exposed cake edges — if your frosting is too stiff, it’ll pull the cake apart a bit and you’ll have crumbs in your frosting. I used some “whipped” frosting in a bucket from the grocery store, but homemade would probably taste much better. I used red, yellow and blue food dye in a 3:3:1 proportion to get the tan color. I added a bit of almond extract because I was temporarily and terrifyingly possessed by the demonic spirit of Sandra Lee. ::shiver::

Add green coconut for the grass skirt
Add green coconut for the grass skirt

Next, make some green coconut for her grass skirt. Always, always, always use Baker’s Coconut, because they created the booklet that was the inspiration, and even though it’s been nearly 50 years on since they put it out, they deserve to be supported for it. Thanks, Baker’s Coconut!

Take a small amount of milk (somewhere between a few tablespoons and a quarter cup), and add food dye to it. I used lots of green food dye, with a little bit of neon yellow-green food dye. Dump a bunch of coconut in it, and toss it with a fork until it’s all covered. Put the dyed coconut in her skirtal region.

Toasting coconut
Toasting coconut

Now, you’re going to need to toast some coconut. Spread the coconut out on a baking sheet, and put it into a 350┬░ oven. Bake it for 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently. Or, if you’re like me, put it in the oven with every intention of stirring it, then get sidetracked until your boyfriend sniffs the air and says “is something burning in the kitchen?” This cajun-style blackened coconut makes lovely dark tresses for your hula girl. If you manage to kind of get it right on your second go-round of toasting, it’ll make swell sand for under her feet.

Coconut hair and spice drop lips
Coconut hair and spice drop lips
Completed hula girl cake
Completed hula girl cake

Arrange the burned coconut into a bit of hair for your poor bald little hula girl. If burned coconut isn’t your style, you can use licorice instead. For her lips, take a red gumdrop (I used a cinnamon spice drop… ┬ícaliente!) and cut it up into some lips. For her eyes, I piped a bit of black icing I got at the grocery store. For her lei, pipe a bit of pink frosting, and add some little flower candies. If you want, you can add a bit more frosting to give her some nice, busty curves.

Ta da! That’s all it takes! It’s pretty quick to do, and it was a big hit when I brought it out for a group birthday get-together this past Wednesday at Forbidden Island. You can see more pictures of it at Humuhumu’s Life in Photos, and also step-by-step pictures of a cake I made that was shaped like a Munktiki Tiki Central ‘Ohana Hut bowl.

11 Responses to “Hula Girl Cut-Up Cake”

  1. bita Says:

    tank you very much
    is grate:)

  2. dana witt Says:

    excellent… son has to make a luau theme for boyscouts and this will be the best cake there!!!!!!!!! Thank you.

  3. Lauren Says:


    I love the recipe! I can’t wait to make it for our next luau or event!

    Mahalo nui loa,


  4. Robyn Murray Says:

    Fantastic! just the cake we needed for my daughters beach party.
    From Melbourne Australia.

    Robyn and Lucy

  5. Elaine Says:

    Thank you for the memories with your post of the Animal Cut up Cakes. I remember the booklet as well. When we were children in the early ’60′s we also got the cut up cakes for our birthdays. I have a few pictures from then all in black in white though. What fond memories looking at the other pictures brought back. Creative with the hula girl.

  6.   How do I make a hula girl cake? Says:

    [...]… [...]

  7. Mcgill Says:

    Wow such a great girls. You really have a creative mind that works like a machine. I’ve seen this through all those girls’ pictures.

  8. Back to the 1950’s - cut-up cakes and more « i SAW it! Says:

    [...] – remember the bunny cake you made in home economics?? Here is an example of the bunny cake and here is a more creative example of a hula [...]

  9. Kenda Says:

    My mother in law just gave me her Baker’s “Cut-Up Cake Party Book” after reviewing old birthday pictures of my husband and brother in laws. It has favorites like, “Woofy Dog”, “Teddy Bear” and “Clown”. Not sure what the date is for the book maybe the 70′s, but it’s in pretty good condition. It has 2 women, a girl and a boy with the picture of the Teddy Bear Cake on the cover.

    I am planning my son’s first birthday party and decided to do a Luau theme. I was thinking for my son’s smash cake I was going to bake a rectangle cake and decorate it like a Spam can (since Spam is so popular in Hawaii.) And for everyone else I was going to bake a separate cake, But the cut up book didn’t really have anything else but a boat to go along with the Luau theme. I was thinking about taking the “Football” recipe and making it into a pineapple. However after stumbling on this website. I will be making the Hula girl!! Thanks for being so creative!

  10. Claudette Says:

    Thanks, I had the booklet and let someone used it and never got it back. Thanks again for all the pages. and Thanks for the memories.

  11. JoAnn Says:

    I needed a cut up cake for my granddaughter who is in tap class so I looked up and found your hulu girl and am going to make it into a dancing girl with a yellow dress. Thank you, it is the first one I found and it is the perfect one.

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About Humuhumu
Humuhumu is the creator of several tiki websites. She is a designer and programmer based out of San Francisco.

- Website Design and Programming

- A Worldwide Guide to Tiki Bars & Polynesian Restaurants

- Tiki Mugs & More: Track & View Collections




Arkiva Tropika
Mimi Payne’s massive Polynesian Pop collection

Barefoot Bloggin’
A surfin’, ukein’, freewheelin’ monkey boy

Beachbum Berry
Author of Grog Log and Intoxica!, and one of my dearest drinkin’ buddies
Blog from the user interface designer extraordinaire

Worldwide Guide to Tiki Bars & Polynesian Restaurants

Dumb Angel
A look at the 1960s Los Angeles mod, pop, surf, and music scene

Eye of the Goof
Pop culture with a tiki tinge

Forbidden Island
My Wednesday hangout, the Bay Area’s best tiki bar

Humuhumu’s Life in Photos
Pictures of my adventures
I build websites

Junkyard Clubhouse
Random interesting things from Humuhumu & Hanford Lemoore

Kevin Kidney
Kevin loves tiki, I love Kevin, you will too

Tiki links galore

Mai Tai Online
Montreal-based tiki ‘zine

Tiki Mug Collection Organizer

The Jab
Follow the way of the jab

Tiki Bar TV
Public Access meets Modern Drunkard

Tiki Central
Community forums

Tiki Magazine
Periodical publication covering the wide world of Tiki

Tiki Talk
Hot Lava’s Tiki Blog