Well I have outdone myself. I dont usually rattle on about what I've created as far as cakes are concerned, but it is a hobby that makes me happy, and this particular cake, made 23 little girls extremely happy, and their mothers giddy with delight. I had 3 mothers offering to pay for one for their daughters which is a real encouragement. I had to decline as I dont have the time. This cake took me about 5 hours in total. That would be due to lack of expertise (I do it for fun Im not trained) and also, I made everything from scratch, the cake, the fondant, the buttercream etc. It looked so much better than these pictures. She was lovely, vibrant and sparkly.
Anyways, with my little self indulgent rant out of the way (it doesn't happen often so please do humour me lol) ill get to the cake itself.
The birthday girls favourite colours are pink and purple. Since pink and purple have a tendancy to look tacky together, i went pink for the cake, and made purple cupcakes to make up for all the kids there (the cake wasn't supposed to feed them all).
Let me start with that. I used a Wilton dolly cake tin. It says it serves 12. I had 3 thin layers of icing inside it, so I know that contributes, but this cake served 22 children. So I think its safe to assume this cake will feed at least 18! Unless the children are giraffes and rhino's haha.
I'd like to share with you how I made her, just in case your wanting to do something similar.
Firstly, the requested cake flavour was Chocolate. The cake I made was very tasty, but I think more of an adult chocolate cake as it was so rich and moist but not sickeningly sweet at the same time. Kids prefer something light and fluffy, and very sweet haha. But in saying that, this cake's density stood up to a pretty nasty car ride, and the fondant attack. So, it did well and I'm glad I used it. Also, Chocolate cake is a great choice if you need a few days to make your cake, because most chocolate cake's amazingly, taste better 3 days after being baked! If I find the recipe I used I will put it up here, but since I used a random one online, I doubt I'll remember which one I used!
The buttercream for the layers, the crumb coat and the dress frills, were all the Wilton Buttercream Recipe, as it stands up to Aussie humidity much better than other recipes Iv'e tried, this is because it uses vegetable shortening. In Australia you will find that vegetable shortening exists about as much as the tooth fairy. Instead, use Copha. It's a coconut based shortening which works just fine as a substitute (and doesnt taste coconutty). This stuff is rock hard, so do keep it out of the fridge for an entire day before attempting to use it in your recipe. You may still need to zap it in the microwave too! Its available at the supermarkets where all the butter and lard is.
About the wilton doll pan: If you want to use a real dolly like I needed to (little girl wanted a disney princess) then you may have to make an extra cake to go underneath, just for the dolls height. Because Belle (the doll I used) Is a little shorter than a normal barbie, I didnt have to bake extra. But if you are using a barbie and want to keep the legs attached, then:
A. Cover her legs in gladwrap before inserting her for easier cleanup later
B. Bake an extra cake. Doesnt have to be much taller. About 5cm at most.
I would just cut the extra cake to become the bottom of her dress, rather than make a whole separate cake that you would then have to ice, decorate and use under her. Thats extra work you dont need, as long as you dont need another cake to feed more people of course.
before you remove your cake from the doll tin, slice off the uneven top of your cake whilst in the pan, so that its level and even. Leave the rest of the cutting till later. Once your cake is cooled completely, refrigerate it... Refrigerate it good, so as to make cutting the layers way easier and less messy. The lighter the texture of your cake, the longer you want to give it. Mine was rather dense and moist. It only needed two hrs at the most in the fridge. If your using a red velvet cake, freeze that thing like mad. They are SO crumby and you need that cake frozen to layer it well.
Because It's not a particularly large cake, layering isnt too difficult with a serrated knife. I managed to get my layers very neat, and I'm usually terrible at layering. I layered mine into 3 sections. Once you have layered, cut a hole in the middle of each one, so that when you put it back together, barbie can slide right in. Be sure to place your cookie cutter around her waist to see that its not too big or too small. A slight gap is good, you can fix with frosting and fondant anyway.
So once you have cookie cut (or manually cut if need be) your holes in the middle, add your filling, I used buttercream, and layer them back as one cake. This is the stage I placed a small cake board, just the same size as the bottom of the cake, underneath. It'll dissappear under all the fondant and buttercream anyway and wont be your main board. Its just there for support when you need to slide it onto its display board or plate or whatever your using.
I started by using an edible marker (I accidentally purchased a yellow coloured one and was so annoyed about it, but now its great! I can use it to discretely mark cakes where i want things to go etc.) I used it this time, to mark out the upside down V shape of the ruffles in the front of the dress. I didnt want to go overboard, but i wanted it to be pretty. Marking the shape gave me a even guideline as to how to shorten each layer. You work up from the bottom.
I used the standard wilton petal tip #104 Which you can purchase from Spotlight or sometimes Matchbox. Otherwise, online, which is usually cheaper.
Id rather a larger one really but it still looks pretty. I youtube searched "how to make ruffles on cake" and the technique is extremely simple, so have a look if youve never tried it before!
Once my ruffles were complete, I worked on my fondant. I used a home made marshmallow fondant (wilton recipe again) as it's more palatable and children seem to notice the marshmallow flavour! My 4 yr old calls it "marshmallow pizza" because it is rolled out like pizza. The colours I used were a dash of wiltons "pink" which is way too light, so I added a much brighter colour, which was also called "Pink", By Caroline's Sugar Art Services, which I purchased at a cake deco shop. It is made in Australia and far more vibrant. You need less of it.
I did Belle's bodice the night before all of this (had already made the fondant). I got paper, wrapped it around her, and roughly drew where the bodice should be. then cut the paper to size. I used this paper as a template for my fondant bodice. It worked very well, not much tweaking needed at all. I would have loved to use a textured matt for the whole dress, but I dont have one yet and didnt want to spend $20 or more on one. This cake was already a gift that had cost me more than we usually spend on gifts. So I went with the edible glitter I have, which looked completely gorgeous, way better than the photos! I didnt put on the glitter until later though. So, once the bodice was on her, I placed her in the fridge, arms and legs out a bit so she wasnt leaning on anything. Make sure you put the dolls hair up and wrap it in plastic wrap before you start. Her sleeves by the way were done at the end.
I kind of winged it, as far as the dress shape went. I knew I wanted it to fall like a proper dress, not just be a stiff bowl shaped dome around her like some doll cakes are. So, I rolled it out large enough (made a guess) didnt use any water or "glue" to attach it because I didnt want it to stick too much to begin with, in case i needed it to lift up. the crumb coat would make it stick later anyway. I rolled the fondant into as neat a circle as I could. I wanted it to be slightly shorter to show the ruffles id done around the bottom. It was easy, I simply draped the fondant over the cake and let it fall/rest naturally. It made the pleats on its own. I moved them about slightly to make them a little even, but barely had to touch it! I then cut a little hole in the middle, tucked into the hole any excess fondant, and stuck the doll in through the opening.
There was a slight gap, and she was ever so slightly higher than she should have been. So I used a second layer of fondant (you can see the shorter dress layer on top, on the photo) by rolling out a circle, cutting a neat hole in the middle of it, alot smaller than the hole that the doll was in. Then I cut down the middle of half of it. So it looked like a doughnut, that had been cut on one side, to open it up. I draped this around her waist, with the cut bit meeting behind her. All her hair, and an added seam at the end covered any imperfections of the join.
Next came the details. With the dolls arms in the air, I worked on all the white bits you see. The line down the middle, around her chest, the V on her hips that comes down to the bow, and the bows long ribbon to the bottom of the dress. All done with uncoloured fondant. Most of this detailing was to hide imperfections, and to make her more disney like. She caved in a little at the crotch (because she was too tall) Which is why I put the bow there. Id rather the bow at the back like a normal dress, but saw this on someone elses doll cake and thought it is a pretty solution that looks just fine. she looks like a present! haha. I did use a little water to stick these details on.
Once those details were finished, I put her arms down to where I wanted them, and worked on those short sleeves. Was very easy. Just get a small ball of fondant, cut it in half and roll it into two balls (this is so they are the same size), check to make sure it looks right on your doll by just holding it in front of her shoulders. you'll know. allow for squish of course. Then get a pen, and gently wrap the fondant around it to form a chunky rounded "u" shape. This makes the perfect gap for her arms. using a bit of water, attach your sleeves. Gently squeeze here and there to make sure they are the same size and shape. I wanted to add detail to the sleeves but it didnt work out, made them look too bulky.
Finally, the glitter. I used about 3/4 of a small tub of rainbow dust. I used a damp, medium sized paint brush, starting at the top and working my way down. no fancy strokes or moves, just painted it bit by bit, dipping the brush in a shallow dish of water, shaking so its not dripping, dipping into the sparkles tub, and painting it on. I found if i wet the dress slightly first, it did glide on easier and more evenly, but if i didn't wet it first, the sparkle was more obvious and stood out more. I played around with both till I got the effect I wanted.
I put her in the fridge overnight. I wouldnt normally bother with fondant, but we had our very warm woodfired heater on that night, and it had to withstand a car ride in a warm car the next day. Now after this, I have read that you shouldnt put fondant cakes in the fridge as it can effect the texture of the cake making it sticky. My cake started to get a little sticky in the car but I thought that was because the sun was on it a little. I popped it back into the fridge for 15 mins when I arrived at the party and it came out fine. Left it standing about 20 mins before it was eaten. Still fine.
Transporting her was an absolute nightmare. I dont usually do cakes for others, so I didn't think this through. I won't even tell you the horror story of getting her to her destination. I nearly had a heart attack, was 15 mins late for the party (after leaving early!) and got the finger from a few drivers. I'll leave it at that haha. From my mistake, I've learned the best way to transport a cake...or at least this type of cake.
One: Pre-cool your car. Fondant doesnt like air-con on it. If you have to, you have to. But its better to get in a cold car than keep the air-con on it.
Two: Get a cardboard box big enough so that it will fit your cake AND the cake board that it's sitting on. Cut the box down so that it is just the base, and about 4cm up the sides. Before placing your cake in it, put a bit of rubber grip pad under both your cake, so it sticks to the board, and to the cardboard box, so the board will also stick. This step is not negotiable. Give the cake a box, and grip matts. just do it or it will be slide city.
For those of you who just read my shonky box making instructions and scratched your heads, here is the video I used to create my box:
How To Make A Cake Delivery Box
Though I didnt use a lid, nor did I use dry ice. The base was tops but.
Three: Put it on the FLOOR of your car. Not the seat next to you. As tempting as it is to have it at arms reach, in the car seat, it will suffer every bump, every jerk, every sharp corner turn. It is far better off on the floor of your car than the passenger seat. The floor also eliminates alot of the sunshine problem.
four: If the sun is shining on the cakes side of the car, either make it so that it isnt, or if it cant be helped, put a sheet up on the window to protect it. Although for long drives or drives on main roads this may be illegal, in which case youll have to make a lid for your box. You can see how to do that at the above link.
Lastly, drive safely, slowly, and keep your mitts on the steering wheel! Your life is more important than a perfect cake. Turn corners sensibly, try to break slowly. Keep the speed limit. This all helps keep you and your cake safe.
When you arrive at your destination, if the cake has suffered too much warmth, ten to 20 mins in the fridge or freezer will perk it up!
Lastly, enjoy the sheer joy on the faces of the people you made if for!
PS, suppose I better give a shoutout to the purple cupcakes with white ruffly bows. Everyone loved them too and they were sooo quick and easy to make!
here you go!: