I’ll start this by saying, I am NOT a baker. I’m not even close. I love to cook, but I just haven’t mastered baking. Perhaps it is because exact measurements are not needed in cooking. Often I make a recipe my own by playing with the measurements and sometimes I add an ingredient or two to fit my tastes. Baking on the other hand requires a lot more precision. I feel less experimental and more tied to a recipe when I bake. Although the baking process itself may leave me feeling uncreative, the decorating process can be so much fun! Based on the fact that I hate spending the time on exact measurements, I generally use a box mix. My theory is if I have to do the measurements exactly, I would rather just let someone else do the measuring for me.
As I mentioned in my Mickey Mouse Table Setting post, my son selected a Mickey Mouse theme for his 3rd birthday. So I tasked myself with figuring out how to make a Mickey Mouse birthday cake. Generally, I am the queen of the layer cakes. Since we were doing a smaller family party this year, I went for a single layer, but more intrinsic detailing.
What you need to make a Mickey Mouse Cake
- 2 boxes of cake mix
- 2 round baking pans (I used two 9″ round pans. In hindsight, I wish I would have used a 8″ and two 6″ pans, as I felt the proportions were a little off)
- Cooking spray (or you can mix evoo and water in a squirt bottle if you don’t like all the chemicals that come with cooking spray)
- Paper towel (I’ll explain later)
- 2 containers of frosting
- Black and red frosting dye
- A cake board (This doesn’t need to be anything fancy. It could be as simple as a large cutting board. For my first time ever I bought some disposable cake boards, which are really just sturdy rectangles of cardboard.)
- Pastry bag & a star tip
How to make a Mickey Mouse Cake
Start by greasing the two round pans. Then fold a long strip of paper towel over until it’s roughly the height of the pan, then wet the paper towel. Tie the wet paper towel around the pan. If the ends are too long, simply tuck them between the paper towel and the side of the pan. The wet paper towel helps to prevent the cake from rising in the middle. Flat cakes are easier to decorate and essential when making a layer cake. You could skip this step and cut the raised part off the cake, but I’ve just found the wet paper towel to be easier.
The next step is to mix up the boxed cake mix and divide evenly between the two pans. The last step before putting in the oven is to hold a few inches above the counter and to drop. This helps to work out any air bubbles in the batter.
Each box mix will make two 8″ or 9″ cakes. This Mickey Mouse cakes requires 3 round cakes, so you’ll have one extra. In this instance, I cut up the extra cake and we used it as a base to ice cream sundaes. In other instances where I have ended up with an extra cake, I have frozen it and used for a 1/2 birthday celebration (cut cake in 1/2 and stack on top of each other for a 1/2 layer cake) or as explain in my post The Unplanned Party it never hurts to have some extra party supplies on hand for when the unexpected visitor stops in 🙂
Let the cakes cool completely. Once the cakes are room temperature, turn over the pans to remove the cakes. I then wrap the cakes in waxed paper and freeze. I find frozen cakes much easier to cut and decorate!
I generally wait to decorate the cake until the day of the party. If I know I am going to be in a time crunch the day of the party, I’ll do it the night before and then freeze again. The morning of the party place in the refrigerator to thaw. If I decorate the day of, I just refrigerator until party time.
One of the round cakes will serve as Mickey’s face and the other two will be his ears. As I mentioned, if I were to do this over, I would have made two smaller cakes for the ears as I felt the proportions were a little off. For this one, I stacked two of the round cakes on top of each other and used the same pan I baked them in to cut a crescent out of the sides. I stack the cakes on top of each other while I cut to make certain I am cutting both sides evenly. The below template lays out how I put it together.
Now comes the fun part – DECORATING! I put the cake together as laid out in the template on my cake board. I put a little frosting on the actual cake board to hold the cake in place while I decorate. I mentioned frozen cakes are easier to decorate. This is because there are less crumbs. Craft stores sell special base layer frosting to help hold in crumbs, but I find a frozen cake is just as easy. I started with the back frosting and then held a small piece of cardboard in between the black and where I wanted to start the red. To cover the seam I piped red frosting over the seam. I also piped red and black frosting around the edge of the cake. I used two white chocolate circles for the buttons, but you could also just use a little white frosting. The below video offers a lot better explanation of piping than I ever could!
Overall, I was fairly pleased with how this cake turned out. The challenge with theme cakes is you rarely have the same theme twice. Now it’s onto the next challenge…a Lego head and a princess crown for my nephew and niece’s birthday. I’ll keep you updated 🙂