My son's beloved elephant blankie was the inspiration for the theme of his fourth birthday party. His cake, shaped like a friendly pachyderm, was a huge hit! I'm no cake decorator, but I found it fun to make. No special pans are needed, and the frosting is easily applied with a pastry bag and star tip. —Kristen Proulx, Canton, New York
Line two 9-in. round baking pans and one 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan with waxed paper; grease the paper. Prepare both cake batters and bake according to package directions, using the 9-in. pans for the yellow cake and the 13-in. x 9-in. pan for the chocolate cake. Cool for 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely. Level cake tops if necessary.
Referring to Fig. 1 and using a serrated knife, cut out a trunk and two feet from one yellow cake. Referring to Fig. 3, cut out an ear and tail from second yellow cake. (Discard leftover cake pieces or save for another use.)
Center chocolate cake on a 28-in. x 16-in. covered board. Referring to Fig. 2, position trunk along left bottom edge of cake and tail on right side. Place feet at bottom corners of cake. Place ear 2 in. from left side of cake.
For frosting, in a large bowl, cream the shortening and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners' sugar, vanilla and enough milk to achieve desired consistency.
Tint 1/4 cup of frosting black; set aside. Set aside 1/2 cup white frosting. Tint remaining frosting blue-gray, using small amounts of black and blue food coloring. Spread 2 cups of the blue-gray frosting over top and sides of cake.
Trace a 1-1/2-in. x 1-1/4-in. oval for the eye. Cut a small hole in the corner of a pastry or plastic bag; insert round tip #4. Fill bag with black frosting. Outline eye and fill in pupil; pipe eyelashes and mouth. Using star tip #25 and reserved white frosting, pipe stars to fill in eye and add nostril and toes.
With blue-gray frosting and star tip #16, pipe stars over top and sides of elephant.