Back to School Cake & Cupcakes!

CUTE Back to School Cake & Cupcake Tutorial by! {free}


It’s that time of year again…. (for some of you, it’s already begun!) —

Back to S-C-H-O-O-L!

Time to shop for new crayons and markers and paper…. time to meet the new teacher,  and time to set the alarm earlier–:0(   It’s also this time of year every year when I think of this song….and I sing it ——A LOT. —  If only the first day of school involved this much dancing….

The song every parent should sing to their kids this time of year–Thanks, Grease2!!!

Okay, let’s get back to it!! So, if your kids are like mine and not counting the days to return to school, maybe a cake or cupcakes will help ease the pain.  Or maybe you can be the favorite parent of the class from Day 1 by bringing in a back-to-school cake or cupcakes!! Whatever your motivation, I hope you like today’s project–  :0)

First, let’s start with the cake.  We’re making a school bus!  I made a 9×13 single layer sheet cake….and I also made a template to lay on top.

It doesn’t have to be a perfect template, but sometimes it’s nice not to have to eyeball it when carving.  If you want to borrow mine, here it is:  Bus Template

Next, start cutting away excess cake, leaving only what’s beneath the template.  Remember to account for the wheels–If you cut away that part, your wheels will be too low!

I’m going to use Mini Moon Pies for my wheels.  Is that just a Southern thing?  I don’t know.  But if you don’t have any Mini Moon Pies, chocolate doughnuts or big chocolate cookies will work well too!

Perfect fit :0)

Now, It’s time to start frosting.  I used a crusting vanilla buttercream tinted Americolor Egg Yolk Yellow. You could also use a combination of yellow with a little bit of orange for the same effect. 

After the buttercream had crusted, I smoothed over everything (as always) with a Viva brand paper towel.

I made some cardstock templates for the bus doors (optional), as well as the windows. You really can leave off the doors since one side of the bus doesn’t have them :0) –I didn’t think of that until later!

I waited until my buttercream had crusted and then I made impressions.  That way, I could trace them later.  If you’re good at freehanding, you can skip the templates.  You could also cookie-cut fondant squares to use for windows.


Here’s my cake after I made the impressions.   I used a folded sheet of typing paper to make the line that would run beneath the windows (2 1/2″ from the top of the cake).

If you want to borrow my template for the doors and windows– Click Here.

I outlined everything with a tip 3, and filled in with a tip 12…then smoothed with my spatula and smoothed even more with a piece of a Viva paper towel after everything had crusted.

With a 2D tip, I cut out circles of fondant for my kids’ faces.  Then I drew on them with my food coloring pen. 

Then, just fill in the details!  I drew on just about everything with a tip 3 or 4 in varying shades of buttercream, with the exception of the piping above the tires, which was done with a tip 12.  I also used a tip 16 star tip for the border along the bottom of the cake.

Look how cute!


The only thing that would make this cake cuter is to be surrounded with cupcakes!!  I made two really simple designs— and if cupcakes are your thing, skip the cake altogether and make a platter full of these!!  So much fun…

I made these blackboard toppers with a pieces of dark chocolate.  (I used mini Hershey Special Dark candy bars).  Then I piped the white buttercream writing on with a Wilton tip 2.  The brown piping at the bottom edge is done with a Wilton tip 4.

The second design is an apple–(red buttercream piped with a Wilton tip 12, and buttercream stem and leaf piped with Wilton tip 4)

Group Shot!….

That’s it!! Let’s have a look at the big picture!–  I think my favorite child is the one in the very back… hee hee.  Just keeping it real ;0)

Hope you enjoyed the tutorial!! Have a great weekend!


Category: Blog Tutorials, Carved/3D, Cupcake, Cake Pop, etc. Methods, Fall, Kids, Miscellaneous Kids Themes, Seasonal & Holiday


  1. This is absolutely adorable! Such a fun way to celebrate Back to School! Awesome tutorial! Love all the kids faces!

  2. sadia says: #2

    Extremely cute!!

  3. rostaty says: #3

    wow… so cute.. love it

  4. Jen says: #4

    Beautiful!!! What a great way to kick off back to school, I think I’ll make this for my son’s first day of Pre-K and start a back-to-school cake tradition.
    I’m sort of new to cake decorating, what is the trick to smoothing with a paper towel? How do you do that exactly??

  5. Tracy says: #5

    That is incredibly adorable!!

  6. Maria Ortiz-Cintron says: #6

    I love it! I once made one using the recipe from Parents Magazine, but this one is so much cuter and easier… GREAT job!

  7. Sarah Olson says: #7

    What a great idea! love the kids faces – adorable :)

  8. Crafty Caker says: #8

    Luv it! So cute!

  9. Elaine says: #9

    very cute, you made it look so simple…i let you know after i conquer it…thanks for another great idea for cuppies and cakes

  10. JENNIFER says: #10

    Very cute and simple…thanks for posting

  11. mrsscurry says: #11

    What could you suggest for a back to HOMEschool cake??

  12. roni says: #12

    This is adorable,,, thank you for the step by step.

  13. Debbie Cattivera says: #13

    Adorable! I can’t wait to make one!

  14. Tina says: #14

    What a great idea….I think I’ll try it. Oh and Jen the viva paper towel trick is an easy way to smooth your buttercream icing but it has to be a “crusting” buttercream. I’m sure Melissa has a tutorial on this site or you may be able to find info in the message boards.

  15. Julia says: #15

    What a wonderful blog, amazing tutorials you have here!!! I absolutely love it :)
    Cookies for wheel – simple and awesome idea :)

  16. yorleidy says: #16 it,,god bless your hands

  17. CakesOnTheLane says: #17

    I love this cake, Melissa!! Very cute. Wish I had someone to make it for. :)

  18. Melissa Diamond says: #18

    Everybody-thanks so much for your comments! I really do SO appreciate each one.

    Jen–that sounds like a great tradition to me! As for the Viva paper towel method- what Tina said :0) -If you’re not a member, I’m sure that you can find info also in a Google search–I didn’t invent the method but I do love it!

    Mrsscurry- Next year we’ll have to do a homeschool theme too! :0) — The cupcakes would work! I’ve seen some really cute BIG pencil cakes, or maybe a 3-D apple or books! :0)

  19. Tanja says: #19

    Melissa, you always have the cutest designs!! I want to do this cake whenever I have the chance!!! 😀

  20. Anna says: #20

    I just found about about your site from Twitter! And I love it so much! This cake looks pretty awesome!

  21. Susan says: #21

    I just made this cake last night for a back to school party. It really was so easy thanks to your tutorial. So appreciate all you do to teach us your mad cake skills!

  22. grethel says: #22

    Love it very cute

  23. Peggy says: #23

    This is just to adorable, love it!

  24. Terra says: #24

    I LOVE the simple blackboard idea. Those are so cute, and everything together is just wonderful.

    I also really loved the Reese’s cup cupcake idea… maybe it doesn’t hurt that Reese’s are my fave!

  25. So VERY cute! I really want to make some school-related goodies and these certainly fit the bill! The kid’s faces are precious:)

  26. JDaniel4's Mom says: #26

    This is such a cute idea! I love the details you added to the cake. I have pinned this post.

  27. Deena says: #27

    Thanks so much for the tutorial!! I just made TWO of these for my twins third birthday. They LOVE school buses and, since I’m not very good at baking, I LOVE that you posted this for me to follow! The cakes were a hit!!

  28. Melissa Diamond says: #28

    YAY Deena! That made my night ;0) Happy birthday to your twins!

  29. rosemary mberebor says: #29

    Really cool

Leave a Comment