Sunday, June 2, 2013

Oh Mickey, You're So Fine!

You know the rest. But, this isn't about that song, it's about the mouse... Mickey Mouse. You've heard of him, yes? Confession, I haven't baked in awhile. Unless you count the Betty Crocker box brownies (gasp!) that I made for my hubby last week after he spotted them in the grocery aisle and had himself a little craving. Maybe he's preggers?

We are in the midst of remodeling our kitchen, DIY style, and I'm doing my best not to go crazy with the mess and disorder that it has been for longer than I can recall at the moment. Currently we're in the height of chaos and disorder as we're refacing all of the cabinets... ourselves. It's a dirty job, but it's cheaper if you do it yourself. So, there are no cabinet doors or drawers in the kitchen, everything is in plain sight and everything that is normally in a drawer is on the kitchen counter or in appropriately labeled grocery bags in the dining room. It's not ideal, but I'm surviving, and hopefully it won't last too much longer.

Because of the mess I haven't been motivated to create more mess by baking, but a couple weeks ago I was asked to make a birthday cake for this weekend. At the time the kitchen was still in working fashion so I said yes. Of course when it came time to start baking, the kitchen had been slightly deconstructed and we're also in the middle of an obscene heat wave. Perfect.

I was asked to make a Mickey Mouse cake for a 5 year old boy. No chocolate. He sent me a couple pictures for inspiration and I figured out what I wanted to do. I planned on making vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream frosting and marshmallow fondant. My original plan was to use a 10-inch cake for the middle and two 6-inch cakes for the ears. I wasn't sure if these sizes would work out, but those are the pan sizes I have so I was hoping it would be fine. Part of me worried that the 6-inch cakes would be too big for the ears. But, those sizes actually worked out perfectly.

As always, I separated my cake making into 2 days of work. On the first day I baked the cakes and made the fondant. First I made a double batch of the vanilla cake with the recipe that I always use whenever I bake cakes like this. I wasn't sure exactly how much batter I would need, but I knew it would at least be a double batch. The double batch filled one 10-inch pan and one 6-inch pan. So with those filled and ready to go I placed them in the oven together (I'm sure this is a no-no, but it was just too hot to have the oven on any longer than necessary) to bake. The 10-inch cake was done in about 45 minutes, the 6-inch was done in 55. My 6-inch cake pan is 3 inches tall so it always takes a little longer for those cakes to bake.

Knowing that a double batch of batter would get me the right amount of batter for 2 more cakes in the size I needed I made another double batch and filled the pans. When all the cakes were done baking I let them cool in the pan on a wire rack. While the cakes were cooling I made the fondant. I knew I wanted to make 3 colors; white, red and black. I started with white, then made red, and finally the black. This way I could use the same bowl and not have to wash it out every time to make sure the previous color didn't impact the following one. It worked.

When the fondant was done I wrapped all three batches individually in saran wrap and put them in the fridge. If it's cooler you can leave the fondant out until you're ready to use it, but since it was so hot I wanted to keep it in the fridge. If you do keep it in the fridge, just remember to take it out a little before you want to start decorating so it gets a little time to soften up and become more workable.

On day 2 I started by making the icing, and then I started carving/constructing Mickey. I had an idea of what my game plan was going to be, and I pretty much held to it as I worked. I started by leveling off the cakes so everything was flat on top and bottom. Then I cut each of the 6-inch cakes in half horizontally and spread icing in the middle so each cake had 2 layers. Then I also cut one of the 10-inch cakes in half horizontally and made that a 2-layer cake. Because of the height difference in the 10-inch and 6-inch cakes, and to make everything the same height, I only ended up using one of the 10-inch cakes.

With everything the same height I worked on the placement of the cakes. I cut a small football shaped piece out of each of the small cakes so they would sit flush to the middle cake for the ears. When the cakes were placed where I wanted them I iced everything and placed it in the fridge for a little while so it could set. While the frosting set I rolled out the fondant and first placed the black fondant over the cake. It ended up being enough to cover the entire cake, though I didn't need it to be because I was going to cover the bottom half with red. After the cake was covered with fondant I piped a nice edging around the bottom to make it look a little cleaner. I haven't yet figured out how to get fondant to lay nicely at the bottom of a cake, so if I can, I always try to make a little edge with icing or fondant so it looks nicer.
Here's what the cake looked like. I know what you're thinking... who's the cake for?

You're right, now that everything was done I had to figure out how to put happy birthday and the name on the cake. Here's the problem... I was really happy with how the cake looked and I didn't want to mess it up by doing a shoddy piping job or putting poorly cut out fondant letters on it. So, I got to thinking. For my hubby's recent birthday cake I made a little banner to say happy birthday, and I thought maybe I could do something like that for this cake.

I Googled "mickey mouse font" and found one that I liked that I could download for free. I printed out "happy birthday josh" and "5th" in case I decided to include the number and worked on making a little banner. I traced the printed letters onto card stock, filled in the letters, and cut each of the words out separately. I glued each word onto red card stock in the arrangement I liked and cut that out as well. I traced that shape onto another piece of red card stock so the banner would have a backing and so I could glue a toothpick in the middle to have a way to stick it into the cake.
Ta da! I debated for awhile about where to put the banner in the cake, but I finally chose one of the sides since I figured it would be easier to put candles in the middle if they decided to do that. Overall, I was really happy with how the cake turned out and I love the little banner as well. For me it's much easier than piping, I think it looks better and I like that it adds a little height to the cake as well. Hopefully Josh liked it as much as I did.