Recipe courtesy of Karen Tack for Food Network Kitchen

Ham Cake

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 3 hr (plus cooling)
  • Active: 1 hr
  • Yield: 24 slices of cake
Break out your carving knife: It’s time for dessert! To make this retro ham cake, we turned a layer cake on its side, then frosted it and brushed it with food coloring to give it that baked look. The pineapple rings and cherries are the real deal, and the faux cloves are just mini chocolate chips. It makes a fun April Fools’ Day prank — or an unconventional Easter centerpiece.



  1. Coat two 8-inch and two 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray. Prepare the cake mixes as the label directs. Divide the batter among the 4 pans and bake at 350˚ F as directed. Let cool, then remove the cakes from the pans.
  2. Stack the two 8-inch cakes on top of the two 9-inch cakes, spreading frosting between each layer. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. 
  3. Measure 3 inches in from one side of the top cake layer. Starting at this point, use a serrated knife to cut down through the cake as shown, ending 1 1/2 inches in from the same side on the bottom layer. 
  4. Put the larger section of cake, cut-side down, on a platter. Separate the trimmed-off cake into two 2-layer pieces and stack them on top of one another at the narrow end of the layer cake.
  5. Cover the rounded part of the cake with a thin layer of frosting. Tint 1/2 cup frosting pink and spread on the flat side, making it as smooth as possible. Refrigerate the cake for about 30 minutes.
  6. Spread the remaining white frosting over the rounded part of the cake, making it as smooth as possible. Use a chopstick to make crosshatch marks in the frosting, about 1 1/2 inches apart.
  7. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 teaspoon pink food coloring, 1 drop yellow food coloring and 1 tablespoon vanilla. Use a small brush to paint the color in the crosshatch marks. Return the cake to the refrigerator for 30 minutes. 
  8. Mix 6 drops yellow and 1 drop red food coloring. Separately, mix 1/4 teaspoon brown food coloring with 2 teaspoons vanilla. Brush both colors on the white frosting. To complete the look, mix the cocoa powder with 1 teaspoon warm water and flick the mixture onto the cake with a brush.
  9. Pat the pineapple rings dry with paper towels. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and brown with a kitchen torch or under the broiler. Attach to the cake with toothpicks. Press 4 mini chocolate chips into each ring and press a cherry into the center. Remove the toothpicks after slicing.