I know, I know. Frozen is so three years ago. As a feminist role model, Queen Elsa offers little and has an impossibly thin waist. But try telling that to my about-to-turn three years old daughter.
Go on, tell her. I dare you. And while you’re at it, could you please explain to her that she’s still not quite old enough to brush her own teeth and that doing a wee on the toilet is nothing to be fearful of? Phew, thanks, that’s really taken a load off.
So where were we? Ah yes, Frozen. An ice palace cake. What could be simpler for a novice cake maker, eh? Encouraged by the relatively successful pirate ship cake I decorated for my son, this time I actually attempted making the cake myself as well. Well, partially. For this rather adventurous creation I needed four cakes which could have tipped me into the brink of insanity, so I cheated and bought ye old faithful Coles unfilled sponge cake for my top layer and staircase and turrets. (Because what is an ice castle without a staircase and turrets, amiright?)
But back to the cake base that I made… I recently bought a Bellini Intelli, aka the
poor thrifty woman’s Thermomix, so I used this recipe for a Thermomix Butter Cake from Retro Mummy. It was too simple for words really, just a matter of bunging all ingredients in, fiddling with a few knobs and voila! Cake batter ahoy…. it took longer to clean the machine afterwards than it did to make the cake! It would be simple to adapt using traditional methods, I’ve no doubt.
The recipe made two 20cm round cakes, one of which rose rather alarmingly in the middle (I chose not to photograph that one, as it looked like my cake had grown a goitre). Either way, it mattered not, as I had to slice off the tops anyway to make my cakes nice and level. (NB: shaved off cake goitres are delightful with a cup of tea.)
Next up, I made some buttercream icing using this recipe from Taste, which I made with my good ol-fashioned beaters, mainly because I couldn’t bring myself to wash the Bellini again. I finished off by adding some blue food colouring. It needed quite a lot to take it from the decidedly puce green shade it started with, but I got there eventually, albeit with decidedly blue-stained fingers to show for it. (My kids spent the rest of the day nervously informing me that my hands still weren’t clean – encouraging to know that I’ve taught them the importance of good hygiene.)
Finally, came the moment of truth when it was time to assemble the castle. Well, more like several, very long moments of truth.
Decorating lesson #1. Icing is hard. Trying to get a smooth finish, with no cake bits poking through and no crumbs spreading throughout, is quite frankly, a real bugger. My only advice here is smooth, smooth, swear and smooth again. If anyone can add anything more helpful, I’m all ears!
Decorating lesson #2. If you have to ice a large surface area, make a lot of icing. Don’t, as I did, realise that you still have to ice four upside down ice-cream waffle cones with little icing left. Torn between having to make an extra batch of icing and attempt to colour match it, or pray that I could stretch what I had far enough, I naturally opted for the lazy latter option. And it kind of, almost, stretched. As long as you didn’t look too closely. A few judiciously placed snowflakes (bought at exorbitant cost from Spotlight) covered up a multitude of icing sins, while a gel icing pen added a dodgy ‘3’, some dodgy stairs and even dodgier ‘ice peaks’. A few Frozen themed candles bunged in at the last minute and we were laughing.
The good news? Children are easily impressed. There were lots of ‘wows’ and ‘oohs’ and ‘That’s so super awesome and cool, mums’. (A direct quote from my three-going-on-13-year-old.) Miss M did a great job of blowing out her candles, there were lots of compliments on the cake and then Mummy had a big fat champers to celebrate Cake Duty being over for another year… or at least until my son’s sixth birthday in April. He wants a Darth Vader head. Lord help me.
Verdict: Success! (If squinting)
Lessons Learned: See above.