Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Merida Birthday Cake


Well hello, dolly!

I decided to make a birthday cake for my daughter's fourth birthday.  Not just any cake, but a doll cake covered in super sweet fondant. Two problems immediately came to mind: my daughter doesn't have any dolls and I have never made fondant before.  Despite the very real possibility that my little girl would end up with a barbie doll swimming in sugary goo for her birthday, I decided to give it a go.

First, the doll.  Little Miss loves Frozen so I suggested she might like a Queen Elsa cake.  She quickly nixed that idea and opted for Merida, the spunky red-headed heroine of Brave.  Good choice!  Elsa isn't the best role model anyway...

Here is Merida before her cakey makeover:

A piece of cake?

Next, the cake. The recipe for blueberry cake came from the amusingly titled Kiss My Bundt by Chrysta Wilson.  I used a Wilton Wonder Mold to create the shape of the dress.  Here it is, ready to go in the oven.

One hour at 180 degrees later, my talking Japanese oven told me that the cake was ready and politely informed me that I had better take it out quick smart, or else.
Then this happened.

Epic. Cake. Fail.

Apparently the Wonder Mold doesn't work well when you have lots of blueberries in the batter that sink to the bottom and make everything soggy.  Good to know.

As it was already birthday eve, panic started to set in.  I quickly whipped up a late-night supplementary cake using a chiffon cake pan (tube pan.) Note to self: skip the Wonder Mold (wonder why I bought it!) and go straight to the chiffon cake pan next time.  The Wonder Mold has now been repurposed as a bird bath.

My pinch hitter cake is below.

Frosting and fondant frustration

Now for the decoration.  First, I created a lovely cakey tower and trimmed the edges with a bread knife.  I spread buttercream (also from Kiss My Bundt) between the layers.

Next, the whole thing got smothered in buttercream and then went in the fridge to chill for a bit.

A knife and some hot water made everything nice and smooth.


Next up, the fondant.  I made a huge batch of fondant in my mixer (which complained the whole time.) Colouring the fondant was a bit of a challenge as I used powdered food colouring made from spirulina.  I noticed that my vanilla oil was mostly glycerin and a bit of alcohol so I dissolved the powder in the vanilla oil and slowly kneaded it into the fondant.  I was running out of time so I settled for a nice sky blue.  Merida didn't seem to mind.

I then prepared Merida for her big transition with some plastic wrap.

She then got a makeshift fondant bodice.  I cut out the neckline and then squished the rest on to her torso, snipping under the arms with scissors.  And here she is in the cake.

Finally, it was time for the skirt. This was the most difficult part of the process.  I dusted the fondant mat with cornflour, rolled out the fondant, then let forth a stream of Gaelic curses as the fondant got completely stuck to the mat.  I did the same thing twice more and began to feel that the words "Fondant Fun!" on my rolling mat were taunting me.

I was also running out of time.  The kindergarten bus carrying Little Miss was due in less than half an hour and baby was starting to get grumpy.  Did I mention that I was carrying my baby on my back?  Yeah, I like to bake and babycarry.

In a last-ditch attempt, I covered the mat in a super thick layer of cornflour, rolled out the fondant and then transferred it to the cake.

A bit of smoothing, a bit of trimming, some decoration around the neckline and Merida was complete!  Here she is:

Little Miss looooved the cake by the way. She wasn't too keen on the fondant but the buttercream got the thumbs up.  Not sure how I'm going to top this one next year.

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