Saturday, May 18, 2013

A despicably pretty minion cake

This cake has a bit of a history. Since seeing the movie Despicable Me, I really wanted to make a minion cake because they are just so darn cute and I love cute things. My youngest nephew's birthday is in December and last summer my sister tried to show him multiple Despicable Me videos to convince him that he wanted a minion cake for his birthday. He ended up wanting a Michael Jackson Thriller werewolf cake, which he got. He is already planning his cake for next year - something to do withe Harry Potter and Spiderman. He said to me "Aunt 'Deece' (which is how he says my name) you can have funny little yellow guy for your birthday." I didn't do a decorated cake for my birthday or my husband's birthday this year - I did an apple cake with butterscotch cream cheese frosting and a banana chocolate chip toffee cake with bourbon frosting and chocolate ganache. They were delicious but did not fill the 'funny little yellow guy' quota. Someone in my family was going to get a minion cake. It was only a matter of time. Next family birthday - my sister. I thought it would be a great cake for my sister as a reminder that she really needs to work on her cake idea brainwashing skills with her kids. 
The cake design in itself was not overly complicated. It's basically a yellow cylinder. It did require some structural support though and some cake carving skills to get a symmetrical domed top. The cake was six 6-inch layers of almond butter cake filled with strawberry swiss meringue buttercream. I used a plastic centre dowel when stacking the cakes to ensure that it wasn't a leaning minion in the end. Once the cake was all stacked, filled and crumb coated, it measured about 8 inches tall. 
The main challenge of the cake was covering such a tall and narrow cake with fondant without tearing and creasing or pleating. I am not sure what the proper technique for covering a tall cake is but what I did managed to work well. I rolled out my circle of fondant a couple of inches smaller than what it should have been for a normal cake knowing that the fondant was going to stretch quite a bit as I smoothed the fondant against the cake to get out any pleats or folds. The other part is that knowing it was going to stretch and therefore be susceptible to tearing, I rolled my fondant thicker than usual. Normally I roll my fondant about 3/8" thick or slightly thinner and this time I rolled my fondant 1/4" thick. The last component: you have to work very fast! As the fondant dries (which depending on which brand you use can be very fast) it becomes more difficult to smooth out any folds without leaving marks on the cake. I ended up with one very small tear at the very bottom of the cake which wasn't such a big deal since it was being covered with a dress. 

I looked at several pictures of minions to decide what facial expression I wanted. They also vary a little bit in hairstyles. I went with a little bit of hair scattered evenly over the top of the head. The hair was made from gumpaste. I let it dry overnight and then placed it into the scalp right after covering the cake with fondant while the fondant was still very soft. I made quite a few extra pieces of hair accounting for possible breakage. I used a daisy cutter/plunger for the little hair accessory.
For the mouth I used a ball tool to indent the shape of the mouth while the fondant was still soft. This resulted in cleaner edge than if I had cut out the shape of the mouth. I then spread a very thin strip of purple fondant in the indented area and filled it with uneven looking teeth. 

Now I know that a pink dress is not the typical outfit for a minion - they are typically wearing blue overalls unless they are in disguise trying to get a stuffed toy unicorn from a toy store, or cleaning as a French maid. I decided that seeing as how the cake was for my sister and it was also Mother's Day weekend, I would do something spring-like and feminine. I wanted to keep the dress in a similar style to the overalls they wear. I first wrapped a skirt around the minion creating folds for pleats as I went around the body. I cut out a rectangular piece for the front and then strips for the waistband. I used a stitching tool to create the look of seams on the dress. 
Since the cake was celebrating my sister's birthday, I thought it was only appropriate to have the minion celebrating with a cupcake. It was also a very logical place to stick a birthday candle.
My youngest nephew spent a lot of time staring at this cake. My sister said to him, "See, don't you want a little funny yellow guy for your birthday?" My nephew replies, "Yes, and I want Harry Potter, and Spider Man...." I think we should just quit while we're ahead and stop asking him about his cake for next December. If we don't, I'm going to end up making ten different cakes for one birthday.

I had a great time making this cake. People often ask if it is heartbreaking to cut into a cake that I've spent so many hours making and my response is typically 'no'. This cake was not the most time consuming cake that I've done but I think it was the hardest one to cut into. I wanted to keep it, like a stuffed toy. Thank goodness for a blog to document the memories!