Our little girl turned one! It’s hard to believe – this year has all of the clichés of new parenthood: It flew by (they grow up so fast!), it dragged (OMG so tired needmoresleep), and we can’t quite remember what life was like before Violet.
In fact – she turned one nearly 3 months ago. And in the trend of my latest blog posts, this one is only now being written. Hopefully we can get caught up and post some of the awesome things we’ve been cooking and baking lately. But for now… the birthday cake(s)!
From very early on, Adam and I have sung The Muppets’ song Mahna Mahna to Violet. At first it was our “car seat song” – a little tune we could sing to calm her down as we put her into the car seat. Then it became a surefire “she’s freaking out! Put on the Mahna Mahna video!” technique. We even told a few babysitters to use it as backup, and to this day – when we play this video – we’re guaranteed a big grin, and usually a giggle:
So when brainstorming ideas for her birthday party, this came to mind. Is it possible I could make a cake that somehow used these characters? I’m no pastry chef – I’ve never really done anything fancier than put frosting in a piping bag. But if your daughter’s first birthday isn’t an excuse to give it a go, what else is?
My first thought was to do a sheet cake and somehow mold the characters out of fondant or something. Then I thought maybe I could draw them with icing on the cake itself. Then I stumbled onto this idea… basically you bake a round cake, cut it in half, and then turn it upright so you have a half of a 2 layer cake sitting on it’s side. Could I actually use this method to create the heads of the characters? I decided to give it a try.
Using this image as inspiration, I tried to figure out all of the components:
Here’s what I used to create the various components:
- Cake balls dipped in white chocolate for the eyes of the Snowths (the pink guys), and dipped in pink-tinted chocolate for the Mahna Mahna’s nose.
- Gum paste for the Snowth mouths and the eyes of the Mahna Mahna.
- Gum paste for the Snowth eyelashes
- The Snowth horns were my biggest challenge. I first used the cake ball idea, but they were too heavy and would fall off after just an hour or so. So I switched to gum paste. I rolled it very flat and then rolled it up aluminum foil I had crumpled into the right shape. Once it was dry, I *very* carefully attached it to the side of the Snowths with frosting.
- Food colouring – I actually initially wanted to avoid food colouring all together and use natural things to give the colours, but I quickly gave up on that. I got some pink, yellow, magenta, and black food colour gel. It worked great!
- I did a pretty standard buttercream for most of the frosting, and piped it onto the Snowths – dotting it with a tip like this to make it look furry.
- A meringue-like frosting for Mahna Mahna so that it looked like he had crazy-stringy hair. I’m particularly proud of that part.
Close ups on the final cakes:
Overall, I’m thrilled with how it came out. They looked better than I thought I could pull off. My only regret is I don’t think the taste was what it should have been. I ended up baking the actual cakes a week ahead and freezing them – and even though I read everywhere that that was the best way to go with an elaborate project, it ended up making the finished result a bit too dry. I used Smitten Kitchen’s “Best Birthday Cake” recipe. Ah well, at least Violet’s first taste of cake was a homemade one!
And my bonus cake (I had an extra 1/2 a cake!) – Happy Birthday little girl!
Now the real question is… what will I be doing for her 2nd birthday?