I found the idea, and instructions for this barnyard cake, here, at the Betty Crocker site, though we made a few changes and substitutions. I have to say, that other than the standard round layer cake, this is one of the easiest to assemble birthday cakes we've ever done. It was perfect for us, since we were just having a family party, and didn't need a giant cake, but it could easily be increased with additional cupcakes, or a second layer on the barn, to accommodate guests.
To make this cake, we started out with a 9 x 9 square pan, and a dozen cupcakes made from a single cake mix. We only needed six of the cupcakes, so we put six aside.
The non-stick spray we used, failed miserably, and the cake stuck to the pan, so we had to piece it back together on the plate. But, after it spent an hour in the freezer, we were able to work with it. We set it out on a tinfoil covered cookie sheet, and trimmed the top, to give it a barn shape.
Then, we frosted it with red colored frosting. We made a large batch of vanilla frosting - about two cans worth, if you prefer the ease of store bought, and then divided it up, coloring 1/2 red, 1/8 yellow, 1/8 pink, and leaving 1/4 white.
We made lines in the frosting with a butter knife, to suggest plank siding. And, we added a tablespoon of cocoa to a little of the white frosting, and piped it on, to outline the door, and window, which we (meaning I) drew on a bit crooked, but this is a Montana barn.
We trimmed the windows with graham cracker shudders, and yellow colored coconut hay. There were supposed to be some graham cracker shingles along the top too, but I forgot to put them on.
To color the coconut, we placed it in a Ziploc bag, added several drops of food coloring, sealed the bag, and gave it a good shake. We colored about 1/2 cup yellow for hay, and for the feathers of the chick cupcakes, and 1/2 cup green, for the grass in front of the barn.
To make the animals, we gave the cupcakes a base covering of frosting. We used pink for the pigs, white for the sheep, and yellow for the chicks.
The chicks were completed with yellow colored coconut, mini M&M eyes, and candy corn beaks.
We added a blop of pink frosting to middle of the cupcakes for the pigs and sheep.
The pigs were then completed with two red mini M&M's on their sides, for nostrils, two more in brown, for eyes, and two quartered jelly beans for ears.
We smoothed down the pink in the middle of the white, sheep, cupcakes to make a face, adding M&M eyes, and a nose, and marshmallows cut in half for wool.
Finally, the animals were placed in the green coconut grass in front of the barn, and all that was left to do was clean the kitchen. At which point, all of my helpers became terribly busy elsewhere in the house.
It's great to be a homeschooler.