Wednesday, 19 March 2014

How to Make a Merida Doll Cake

My daughter fell in love with the film Brave -since that the book has been read over and over again -so much so that she can rhyme it off by heart. It was the feisty Merida that really caught her attention -the bow and arrow wielding princess that rides bareback through the wilds of Scotland shooting at targets and climbing sheer rock faces!
Well with all that excitement going through her head it was an easy choice for her birthday cake this year - it really helped that last year her cake was the Cinderella Doll Cake so making this cake was - well a piece of cake!

Serves 6-8

Equipment List:
1Ltr Pyrex bowl or any ovenproof bowl
500ml Pyrex bowl or any ovenproof bowl
Flour dredger (filled with icing sugar) 
20cm (8") Drum cake board
Strip of stiff paper for smoothing the buttercream
Merida Doll
Cake smoother or cake polisher 
Gold edible glitter (I used Tesco's edible gold
Small clean makeup brush
Various knives
Boiled and cooled water

Chocolate Sponge Ingredients:
250g Self raising flour
50g Cocoa powder
300g Caster sugar
300g Soft margarine
6 Medium free range eggs, lightly beaten
1½tsp Baking powder
4 tsp Red food colour gel (optional)

Ready to Roll Icing (RTRI):
450g White ready to roll icing
Latex gloves
Dark Teal food colour gel (I opted for PME Ocean Blue which I bought in J and B Hope
Black food colour (optional)
50g White ready to roll icing
Icing sugar to dust

Chocolate Buttercream:
450g Icing sugar
50g Cocoa
250g Soft margarine
1-2 tbsp Water
2-3 tsp Red colour gel (optional)

Baking the Chocolate Sponge:
Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/Gas Mark 5. Grease and flour the Pyrex bowls, set aside. 

Place all the sponge ingredients into a large bowl and mix on high for 2-3 minutes until smooth and lump free. Scrape down the sides and mix again for one more minute. 

Divide the sponge mix between the two bowls (three quarter filling the bowls prevents the mix overflowing in the oven) make a dip in the middle. Bake in the centre of the preheated oven.

Every oven is different but these are the cooking times I observed: 1ltr bowl for 60-70 minutes and the 500ml bowl for 45-50 minutes but most importantly they are baked right through when a skewer comes out clean from the centre. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes in the bowl before turning out carefully onto a wire rack to cool completely. The sponges freeze extremely well at this stage once wrapped in a layer of cling film and tin foil -when needed they can be defrosted overnight at room temperature. I made and froze the sponges a week before I needed eh!

Colouring the Ready to roll icing:
My advice to use latex gloves or you will have Smurf blue hands for at least a couple of days!!

This can also be done a week or so in advance. Knead 450g of the white ready to roll icing (RTRI) until it is malleable, add small amounts of the food gel, kneading between each addition until you have the shade you desire.   

I added a small amount of black food gel to achieve a slightly darker shade, this is entirely optional. I recommend that you cut the RTRI in half to be sure that no marbling of colours exists if it is - then knead the RTRI again until the colour is the same shade throughout. Store in an airtight container until needed.

Assembling the Cake:
If this is your first time putting together a cake like this then I recommend that you read last year's birthday cake tutorial - How to Make a Cinderella Doll Cake - which goes into all the nitty gritty detail of cutting the holes in the centre of the sponges for the doll, getting that really smooth finish on the buttercream and securing the sponges onto the cake board - so useful is it that I read it again myself before making this cake :)   

Firstly place all the buttercream ingredients into a large bowl, mix on high for 4-5 minutes, scrape down the side of the bowl and mix again. Prepare the sponges - all the details of how to do this is in the link above -assemble the prepared sponges into the cake board, add a generous layer of buttercream and smooth it off. Allow the buttercream to set for 10-20 minutes (in the fridge if possible) apply another layer of buttercream if you wish. Place the doll wrapped in clingfilm into the cavity of the cake to measure the bodice length. I placed a small piece of white RTRI onto her décolletage first (which I later painted in gold glitter) before I applied the teal bodice -the bodice and sleeves were secured onto the doll's body using a small clean makeup brush and some boiled and cooled water. I allowed the bodice to set while I covered the sponges with a  (4mm depth) piece of teal RTRI which was smoothed and trimmed to fit. Last year I rolled out one large piece of RTRI and placed directly over the sponges - this year I rolled out two large pieces which I used on both the front and the back - your front piece should be two thirds the size of your back piece -this method left a seam at the side which I concealed with the sides of the cloak. Once the doll was inserted into the cake I place the gold belt (which came with the doll) around her waist to conceal the seams. Wipe the cake board clean and neaten the hem of the dress. 

The cloak should be long enough to fold over the doll's shoulders right down to the bottom hem of the skirt -which I attached to her shoulders using the boiled and cooled water and trimmed to the correct length. In hindsight I could have made the cape much wider but it worked well as it was.

To replicate Meridas brooch I place a small ball (using the boiled and cooled water) of white RTRI onto the front of her cloak which I later painted with the edible glitter. The dress details were small sausages of white RTRI and glued into place with - yes you guessed it boiled and cooled water. I found that dipping the makeup brush into the boiled and cooled water before applying the edible glitter worked best.   

The ornate gold bow and arrow came with the doll so I managed to attach them onto her hand again using the small elastic bands that come with the packaging (nearly the trickiest part of the whole cake!!!). The gold detail on her sleeve was also painted on with the edible gold glitter.  

The finished doll cake -  we attached the birthday candles to the cake board with small slightly damp balls of white RTRI - the whole cake was a huge success and tasted as good as it looks.  


Two best friends already....

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