Our niece Madison is 4 this week. She has a pink and white Minnie Mouse soft toy that she takes everywhere with her, so my sister-in-law asked me if I’d make a Minnie Mouse cake for her birthday party last Saturday. My daughter has the exact same soft toy in red and white, so it was very handy to be able to use that as a 3D reference when making the cake!
I had a really busy week last week so it meant that I couldn’t start on the cake until Thursday afternoon, so I knew I was on a tight schedule. Lots of things seemed to go wrong when I was making this cake! My sister-in-law really liked the top tier I made of the Musical Birthday Cake for my husband in January as it was crumb-coated in white chocolate ganache, so I decided to use white chocolate ganache on this cake. That was a BIG mistake! White chocolate ganache was a disaster last time I made it. The consistency was really weird and it was so difficult to apply to the cake. I kind of gave up on it last time but then carried on just to practise as it was only my third cake. It would have been much more sensible to stick with the dark chocolate ganache that I usually make, but I’d already bought some white chocolate callets so thought maybe the supermarket white chocolate I’d used previously was the problem. However exactly the same thing happened again, even though I tried changing the ratio of chocolate to cream to 3.5:1, it still looked like mashed potato and after desperately googling ‘how to fix white chocolate ganache’ and discovered that most people find it a nightmare to work with, I admitted defeat and gave up!! That meant sending my hubby out Friday morning to buy more cream and starting again with dark chocolate ganache!
Another issue I had was that I didn’t have as much white marshmallow fondant left over from a previous cake as I thought I did. That meant I had to roll it really thin to make it big enough, which meant it was more difficult to smooth and also that it showed the dark colour of the chocolate underneath through it – another reason I had wanted to use white chocolate ganache!!
Ideally I would have started on the Minnie Mouse figure a week before so that it would have had time to dry and set properly, but due to other things going on I just wasn’t able to. I started with the base of the body, the legs and the ears so that they could start drying overnight. I had to make the rest of her on Friday, the day before the party.
To make the writing I found a font online called Waltograph which uses the same style writing as the Disney logo. I printed it out in a few different sizes to hold against the cake and the plaque cutter to see what size would look best. I then taped the printout to my kitchen worksurface, covered it with a piece of wax-paper so I could see the writing through it and dusted it with cornstarch to stop the fondant from sticking to it. I then used an extruder to pipe out a thin tube of black fondant to make the letters out of. What I should have done, and would do next time, is print out the letters with lots of space in between so that I would have had more room to work! It was very fiddly trying to shape the letters when they were so close to each other. Once I’d finished them I left them to dry for a few hours so that they would keep their shape when I attached them to the plaque.
I used a cutter from Not Just Cakes By Annie for the plaque. I left it to dry on the side of the eight inch cake tin that I’d baked the cake in so that it would dry in the same shape as the curve on the outside of the cake. I then used the extruder to pipe a flat strip of pink fondant to make a thin border around the plaque and attached it using some sugar water (50:50 mix of corn syrup and water).
Assembling Minnie was the most time consuming part! Once the body and legs were on top of the cake I made her dress and added little white polka dots made cut out of fondant using a drinking straw as I don’t have any small circle cutters. I made the head separately and left it to dry for a bit. It definitely needed longer than I gave it as it was still fairly soft when I attached it and her nose and mouth kept ever so slightly coming away from the rest of the head, so I kept having to push it back on and hold it! The number 4 that she’s holding was made from fondant in a chocolate mould with a straw inside and a cocktail stick wedged into the end of the straw so that I could push that into the cake and keep it securely in place.
I learnt from the sign slipping on the Only Fools & Horses cake to attach it to the cake in plenty of time so that it dried straight and I could keep an eye on it to make sure it didn’t slip! So the sign stayed straight this time and the cake made it through the hour and a bit journey in one piece. Our 20 month old daughter said ‘Minnie!!’ as soon as she saw the cake in the morning, so that reassured me that the gumpaste character was recognisable!
The cake was eight inches in diameter and four inches tall, and was three layers of Sour Cream Vanilla Bean cake with French Sour Cream Buttercream in between. This was the first time I’d tried this recipe, which was a bit risky, but everyone commented on how nice it tasted and my little girl kept saying “More, more, more!” so she definitely liked it! I got the recipe from Cake Paper Party which is a brilliant blog written by Summer Stone. She is very scientific in her approach to baking and develops her own recipes, all of which I want to try out when I get the time. This is the first one I’ve tried, but I definitely want to make it again and again! It was firm enough to hold its shape under the ganache and fondant, but stayed lovely and moist, and the buttercream was delicious too. I think it’s my new favourite cake recipe! 🙂