I have heard that the best type cake to use is a pound cake (when you are decorating) cause it holds up the best. Is this true? I was told by someone that was told this by a actual cake place (they were doing her wedding cake) I am planning my childs first birthday and just found a really easy elephant cake I want to try. It is made out of 2 9X13 cakes and you just go from there. Also I want a really good tasking icing to use. I dont want to use fondate (sp?) Is the buttercream icing a good choice? Of course I will have to color it another color.
I can attest to pound cake being very sturdy and a good cake to use for carving and stacking. Your choices are not limited to pound cake though. You can use any cake for most cakes designs. On the carved cakes, it would be best not to use a really crumbly cake.
As for the icing, there are many types of buttercream and they have different tastes and textures. You may want to pick a few from the recipe section on here and see what you like. As far as I know you can color any of them.
Hope this helps.
Bake your cakes and then let them cool. Wrap well in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze overnight (or longer). They should be fine for carving, stacking, whatever. It's a nightmare to try to carve a freshly baked (cool) cake! It's just too soft and crumbly. It needs to settle first. I've even just wrapped them and left them on the counter overnight, that works just fine too.
A cake recipe that uses butter should hold up nicely as well. When I do carving, I use a scratch yellow butter cake (I do not refrigerate, but allow to cool completely).
About icings, there's a wide variety out there that taste great but have different textures. I like to make SMBC/IMBC because it's so "light and airy". But I have used Buttercream Dream from this site, and I think it works and tastes great. I also made my first batch of SugarShack's recipe from her DVD this past weekend. It was well received at the party and was very nice to work with, too.
My suggestion would be to think about how you want to decorate your "Ellie" and let that gear you towards the icing medium that would work best.
Hope this helps!