Do you recall back in August last year I wrote about birthday cakes that we wanted as a child? For me the ultimate cake was a Dolly Varden cake, I always thought they were just so magical and beautiful! Well guess what?? I finally got the opportunity to make one J I was asked by a customer to make a Frozen themed cake for his daughter’s birthday and of course her favorite character is Elsa. So, the obvious choice for me was an Elsa Dolly Varden cake. I spent a lot of time and energy on the Frozen Elsa Doll Birthday Cake, as the little Birthday girl Miss V is such a sweet little girl. The birthday girl loved it so all the time and effort was worth it! I was pretty impressed with how well it turned out.
Side Note: For those that don’t know, Dolly Varden is another name for a Doll cake or a Barbie Cake. The cake is shaped to look like a skirt with a doll is positioned on top (with the legs inside the cake). I have not been able to find out where the name came from nor if it is a name used for this type of cake outside of Australia. If anyone knows please put it in the comments below.
Given that this was my first Dolly Varden cake, I did a lot of research on the best way to create the Frozen Elsa Doll Birthday Cake. I thought I would share with you how I made the cake and some of the tips and tricks that I learnt along the way…
For the basic Frozen Elsa Doll Birthday Cake structure, I stacked three 6 inch round cakes on top of each other and carving the top cake to appear more skirt shaped. You can use a cake tin specifically designed for this type of cake, called a Wonder Mold. However, it is only 5 inches tall and I really wanted to use a real Elsa Doll rather than a specific cake doll, which have a spike in place of the dolls legs.
The first thing I did was buy the Elsa Doll that I was going to use. By getting it first, I knew how big everything else had to be.
I measured the minimum height the cake would need to be, to allow for the doll to sit exactly right, then worked out how many cakes I would need to achieve that height. I worked out that for the height that my chocolate cake mix usually gets to in the tins that I planned to use, I would need 3 cakes. If you aren’t sure how high the cake mix will rise, bake an extra one just to be sure, you can always eat the left over’s but you can’t eat the dolls legs!
I leveled off two of the cakes and left the third cake with the dome on top, this meant that there would be less caving of the cake to get the shape that I wanted.
I baked my cakes with plenty of time to allow them to cool completely before stacking or decorating. If you plan to make the cakes well in advance and freeze them, make sure that you pull them out of the freezer with enough time to allow them to come to room temperate before decorating. A cake that is either too warm or too cool will cause issues when icing, with fondant or buttercream.
Next I stacked the cakes and “glued” them together using sugar syrup. You could also use buttercream to stick the cakes together. I then carved the cake using a bread knife to shape it into a skirt. I then positioned the cake on the cake board and applied a thin crumb coat layer of buttercream and put the cake in the fridge for approximately 15mins to firm up the crumb coat.
After I removed the cake from the fridge, I then worked out which way the Elsa doll would be positioned and using a small, pointed steak knife cut out a hole in the cake just big enough to be able to push in the doll. I didn’t want the hole to be too large as this would not support the doll from moving around.
Then I prepared the doll; I removed her, shoes, skirt and cape, and wrapped her up in cling wrap and aluminum foil. It is important to protect the cake from the non food safe plastic of the doll and protect the doll from getting icing all over it, particularly in the hair. I wrapped the dolls legs in cling wrap to protect the cake and then I positioned the arms so that they were raised above her head and wrapped her upper body and hair in foil. The plastic wrap stays on whilst the doll is in the cake, but the foil is only during the decoration phase.
I then positioned the doll into the cake and then decorated the cake and cake board. Once I had completed the decorating I removed the foil from the doll and positioned her arms, head and hair where I wanted them.
For the decoration I used;
- Buttercream icing using this amazing recipe by My Cupcake Addiction, tinted pale blue using electric blue food colouring gel
- Blue sugar sparkles
- White buttercream icing, same recipe as above, piped around the board to look like snow using Wilton tip 109
- Fondant icing snowflakes using a snowflake cutter
- Roll out the fondant quite thin, I found that about 2mm thick worked best but it depends on your fondant, your cutter and even the humidity of the room you are working in
- Dust the fondant and cutter liberally with corn flour (corn starch) or icing sugar to enable easier release of the snow flake.
- Let them dry so that they are easier to handle when sticking onto the cake
If you want to re-create the FROZEN Elsa Doll Birthday Cake you can purchase all of the equipment online. Just click on the item you want from the list below;
You could use these methods and techniques to create any Dolly Varden cake and just change up the decorations to suit the theme or character you are creating. What themes or characters would you love to make?
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Are there any cakes or other crafts that you would like to see me do? or to do a tutorial on? Feel free to send me an email or post in the comments below!