Jesse's mom posted this checkerboard cake tutorial on my Facebook wall a few days ago. A good friend of mine had also given me a book on surprise inside cake tutorials a while ago, but I had never found an excuse to make a checkerboard cake. Jackson's birthday was as good a reason as any.
I had already planned on making a 4-layered cake with orange, blue, purple, and red. (In case you're not a ninja turtles fan, these are the colors of their masks.) I cheated once again by using these single layer cake mixes. It's so much easier to get vibrant colors with these mixes.
In regards to making the checkerboard cake, my biggest advice would be to make sure the cakes are all the same height. Otherwise, when you mix and match rings of the cake, they're not going to be flush against one another. The other requirement to this cake should be to freeze the layers. I actually froze them overnight and they turned out fine.
Since I was making four different colors, I needed to make four rings of cake. I only had one biscuit cutter, and had to trace various circular lids with a paring knife to get the different sizes. Of course this step would be easier if you have different sized cookie cutters.
Here are all of my cake rings once I finished cutting them out.
The next step was to frost the inside of each cake ring, then place the smaller size inside. I followed a red, orange, purple, blue pattern for each layer.
For extra stability, I put the layers in the freezer for another 15 minutes before I stacked and frosted them. I frosted the cake with green buttercream.
I kept the actual decorations simple with four ninja turtle heads on top of a sewer lid. I keep ready made fondant on hand, so I simply dyed a small fistful of fondant gray and rolled it out to a flattened circle. I used my spatula, lids, and piping tips to make indentations that would resemble a sewer lid.
To make the turtle heads, I dyed a big hunk of fondant green, then rolled them into four balls. I had purchased candy eyes, with the original intention of making ninja turtle cupcakes. While you could use black and white icing, the candy eyes made it much easier and gave a 3-dimensional appearance for the ninja turtle heads. The last step was to take four small (i.e. thumbprint) amounts of fondant and dye them orange, red, purple, and blue. I rolled them into snakes, wrapped them around the heads, then made slits for their eyes to peek through.
Here's the finished cake:
This was an especially fun cake to make and serve.