Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and lightly flour one 8x1 1/2-inch round cake pan. Line twelve 2 1/2-inch muffin cups with paper bake cups. Set aside. Prepare batter for Yellow Cake as directed; divide in half. Pour half of the batter into the prepared 8-inch cake pan, spreading evenly. Divide the remaining batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each about half full. Bake 8-inch cake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Bake cupcakes for 15 to 18 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool 8-inch cake in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Cool cupcakes in muffin cups on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove cake and cupcakes from pan or muffin cups; cool completely on wire rack(s).
Remove half of the Creamy White Frosting and tint light yellow. Set aside two of the cupcakes to use on the mother hen cake. For chick cupcakes, spread a smooth layer of light yellow frosting on each of the remaining cupcakes. If desired, roll edges of frosting in yellow sprinkles to coat. Using a dab of light yellow frosting on the end of spatula, make a peak at the top edge of each cupcake for head feathers. Cut orange gel slices into ten, 1/4-inch wedges and one 1/2-inch wedge. Decorate cupcakes as chicks, using blue sprinkles for eyes, 1/4-inch orange gel wedges for beaks, and orange hard mints for feet.
For mother hen cake, place cake layer on a serving plate. Remove paper liners from the two reserved cupcakes. For head, trim top of one of the cupcakes flat. Using a small amount of white frosting, attach cupcake, flat side down, to top of cake slightly toward the front edge. For tail, cut a center slice from the second cupcake; attach with white frosting to top of cake slightly toward back edge. Frost top and sides of cake and cupcakes with white frosting. Spread or pipe white frosting on top of cupcake head and tail for feathers. Sprinkle top and sides of cake with coconut. For face, add candy eyes and 1/2-inch orange gel wedge for beak. Arrange chick cupcakes around mother hen cake before serving.
In a large mixing bowl beat shortening, vanilla, and almond extract with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add 2 cups of the powdered sugar, beating well. Add 2 tablespoons of the milk. Gradually beat in remaining powdered sugar. Gradually add milk until frosting reaches a spreading consistency. Makes about 3 cups.
Allow butter and eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, grease and lightly flour two 9x1-1/2-inch or 8x1-1/2-inch round cake pans or grease one 13x9x2-inch baking pan; set pan(s) aside. In a medium bowl stir together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, beating on medium speed until well combined. Scrape sides of bowl; beat for 2 minutes more. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Alternately add flour mixture and milk to butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Spread batter in the prepared pan(s).
Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes for 9-inch pans, 30 to 35 minutes for 8-inch pans, 25 to 30 minutes for 13x9x2-inch pan, or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center(s) comes out clean. Cool cake layers in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove cake layers from pans; cool thoroughly on wire racks. Or place the 13x9x2-inch cake in pan on a wire rack; cool thoroughly. Frost with desired frosting.