After my homemade chocolate cake disaster, I thought that the universe was too nice to allow for anymore mishaps in the kitchen for a while. However, I still took extra precautions when I made my store-bought cake mix. I wasn't taking any chances - I oiled my pans really well and double checked everything from measurements to the oven temperature.
Apparently that wasn't enough.
Baking the cakes went fine, but once they were cooled and I tried to take them out of their pans, they wouldn't budge. I started panicking so I shook and shook and shook the pan (looking back, this probably wasn't the best strategy... Scratch that. It definitely wasn't the best strategy). The cake finally gave into my aggressive shakes, but in retaliation, it came out in two pieces: the outside, and the middle. Ughhhhhh.
The other pan wasn't much better, but it was all that I had to work with, given that the birthday party was in T-minus 4 hours. I decided that with the aid of more frosting than was possibly decent, I would try to construct my dinosaur cake.
After the first layer of pink frosting was applied, my mutant dinosaur looked like it had some prehistoric skin disease, because the crumbs from the cake mixed with the frosting. Grrreat, my brother was going to have a cake that looked like a sickly animal.
I hadn't given up hope quite yet, though. I remembered reading in the Joy of Cooking that if you stick the cake in the fridge for a while and then add more frosting, the crumbs will stick to the first layer (the crumb layer), and leave the second one clean. I tried this, and it worked like magic. I was in awe of the power of a crumb layer, and my diseased dino only looked slightly afflicted now - definitely good enough to serve at a 5-year-old's party.
I used the fondant I made from scratch to make the eyes and spikes, and in the end, my brother loved it. It may not have been the cake I was expecting when I first conceptualized it, but I was still pretty gosh darn proud of my effort.