Showstopping Top 9-Free Film Reel Cake

Whether you’re planning to watch a highly anticipated new release or a favorite family film, there’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned movie night.

For this installment of my Kitchen Craft series for Allergic Living, I’ll show you how you can elevate your next at-home cinema experience with a truly amazing cake project, that comes in two parts.

In this post, we’ll create: the Top 9-Free Film Reel Cake. While you get the creative joy of making it, your family will be simply astounded by your Oscar-worthy finished cake.

As shown in the photo, the Film Reel Cake also incorporates a simpler project: my Free-From Popcorn Cupcakes. They will get placed on top of the finished cake. If creating both projects, I recommend making the Film Reel Cake before the Popcorn Cupcakes.

With the cake project that follows, it’s best to do some work in advance. I strongly recommend constructing the reel’s decorative top and bottom sides a day or two before you plan to make and serve the cake. We need to allow enough time for the fondant to dry.

However, the baking part of our creation is super simple. Just make the layers of this cake from your favorite allergy-friendly mix or recipe. I used a “friendly” white cake mix, but a chocolate mix would work equally well.

If you don’t have the time to take on this bigger project now, think about it for later. The Popcorn Cupcakes are also sensational on their own.

I hope you greatly enjoy one or both levels of this project – and wow your home audience. Let us know on Facebook or Instagram, and join me next time for another installment of Allergic Living’s Kitchen Craft series

Film Reel Cake and Bases

Makes: 1 small 6-inch layer cake
Free of: Top allergens and gluten-free


Reel Bases

  • 2-3 lbs black fondant (such as Satin Ice Fondant for all colors)
  • 4.4 oz white fondant
  • 4.4 oz silver fondant


  • Preferred allergy-friendly cake recipe or mix
  • Frosting recipe here or your preferred frosting recipe


  • 10-inch square cake board
  • 4 9-inch circular cake boards
  • 2 6-inch round cake pans
  • Cake turntable or cutting board
  • Fondant rolling pin
  • Fondant smoothing tool
  • Exacto knife
  • Serrated knife
  • Angled icing spatula
  • Parchment paper
  • Plastic wrap
  • 2½ inch circle cookie cutter
  • 2×2-inch square cookie cutter or square cake plunger cutter
  • 0.51 tiny square plunger cutter
  • Support dowels or milkshake straws
  • Alphabet fondant cutters (optional)


Reel’s Top and Bottom

The top and bottom ‘reel’ bases should be made a day or two ahead of time.

  1. Glue or tape together at the center two of the 9-inch circular cake boards. Repeat with other two circular boards.
  2. Place approximately 1/2 pound of black fondant on a clean surface. (Keep unused fondant securely wrapped to prevent drying out.) Roll out fondant, which will form the top of your “reel”. Using one of the 9-inch cake board’s as a size guide, roll the fondant out to be at least 4 inches wider than the round cake board – as it also will cover the top’s underside.
  3. Brush some water onto one side of a cake board and place down onto the fondant. Also brush water on the side of the cake board facing up, and smooth the extra inches of fondant over what will become the top’s underside. Use an exacto knife to carefully remove any excess fondant. Set out to dry for a day or two.
  4. Roll out another approximately ½ pound of black fondant. This fondant will be used to cover the bottom base. Lightly brush water onto the top and edge of the bottom cake board. Cover and smooth fondant onto the board. Gently press the fondant around the full edge of the cake base. Trim any excess fondant.

Alternative method: Divide your 1/2 pound of fondant in half. Roll each out each half to a 7-inch circle approximately ½-inch thick. Set these out for a day or overnight to dry. Note: Your cake reel will look slightly different than the photo, since I created a 9-inch top and bottom base.

  1. To make circles on the top base, where the Popcorn Cupcakes sit, use a circle cookie cutter. Make 5 circles, and remove the fondant cut-outs. Roll out silver fondant. Cut out the same size circles and fill in the opening circles.

Preparing Cake

  1. Use your favorite allergy-friendly cake recipe or mix to make two cake layers. Line the 6-inch round pans with parchment paper to prevent sticking. Bake both cakes in a preheated oven. Set aside to cool.
  2. When the cakes are no longer warm to touch, carefully remove from cake pan by gently turning each out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Securely wrap cake layers and place in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Note: Place the cakes on a small cutting board if your freezer does not have a smooth shelf available.
  3. While the cakes chill, prepare frosting (see frosting instructions of this recipe).
  4. Remove the cakes from freezer. Unwrap and level the top of each cake with a serrated knife.
  5. Place first layer onto the cake turntable (or cutting board). Use an icing spatula to spread your desired thickness of frosting (up to ½-inch thick) over top of the cake. Place your second layer of cake on top of the first layer with the flat bottom of the cake facing up.
  6. Use your spatula to apply a thin layer of frosting to the outside of 2-layer cake (crumb-coating).
  7. Position the bottom black fondant base onto the center of the 10-inch square cake board. Carefully transfer the layered cake onto the center of your black bottom base.

Making the Reel’s Film

  1. On parchment paper, roll out a small ball of white fondant, to 1/8-inch thick. Use a 2×2-inch cookie cutter or plunger cutter to cut out 10 white ‘film’ squares and set aside. (Alternatively, use an exacto knife to cut around a paper square template if you do not have a cutter.) Use a 0.51 plunger cutter to cut out 18 or 20 small squares (the film sprocket holes). Set aside on parchment paper.
  2. Roll and cut black fondant out on parchment paper to measure ¼ inches thick, 18 inches long and 2 inches wide.
  3. Wrap the rolled black fondant around the circumference of the cake. Use an exacto knife to trim any excess fondant. Fondant should be even with the height of the cake. Smooth with a fondant smoothing tool.
  4. Attach the large white squares around the center of the film strip. Use a stroke of water or smooth frosting onto the back of the square and gently press onto the black fondant. Leave 2 centimeters (just over ¾ of an inch) of spacing between each square. (See photo for reference.)
  5. Position the smaller squares to alternate above and below the larger squares. (See photo.)

Finishing Steps

Insert 4 support dowels (approximately 2 inches tall) into the cake or cut milkshake straws will work, too. Set the second film reel base (the top) on top of the cake.

Optional: Place a “Popcorn” Cupcake in each of the 5 circles on top of the film reel. Make additional popcorn out of marshmallows and/or use the alphabet cutters to spell out “Movie Night” to decorate as desired.

Now enjoy the show – and your cake!

See related Popcorn Cupcakes here.

Photo: Ashley Smith  

Related Reading

Kitchen Craft: Allergy-Friendly Football Brownies with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Kitchen Craft: Baking Magic: Sensational Snow Globe Cake
Kitchen Craft: Allergy-Friendly Chocolate Chip-Pumpkin Cookies
Kitchen Craft: Watermelon Cake: Refreshing, Stunning and Top 9-Free

is the support group leader of NNMG Food Allergic Families of Los Angeles ( and a member of FAACT's Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Advisory Board.