Tangled Cake

For my daughter Molly's 9th birthday, she requested a Tangled cake. What a fun assignment! After looking at few ideas online, I decided to make a tower.

I baked four 5" rounds, and two 6" rounds. And, I figured out that one standard cake mix fits well in two 5"'s and one 6" -- so I did that twice. I used devils food cake mix following these instructions. I baked them in advance and froze them, and when assembling I cut the dome off each cake, and split it, and put white frosting (store-bought) between each layer.

I put one full 6" cake on the bottom, then three of the 5" cakes stacked on top of it. I used 12" dowels for support (later I would learn that they needed to be trimmed to about 10"). It looks like I stacked them a little crooked; well it turned out okay. For the top of the tower, I put a 5" on top of a 6" (split with frosting first) and carved it into the turret shape. I did this on a separate plate, and once it was carved I added it to the top of the tower. **In hindsight, I wish I had added the turret AFTER the rest of the tower was decorated... it would've been easier to work on them independently.** One it was all stacked and straight-ish looking, I took a sharp knife to it and carved the tower to be slightly more narrow, with a bit of a flare at the bottom. Then I gave it a generous crumb-coat. I used two cans of vanilla frosting; one for between all the layers, and an entire second can for the crumb coat. I knew I'd be covering it with plenty of fondant (click for step-by-step marshmallow fondant tutorial!) so I knew those unsightly crumbs would be hidden. Then, the cake sat in the fridge for a while, while I did some fondant work. Marshmallow rolled fondant is fabulous for covering cakes; it's not so good for molding. This batch seemed to be particularly "runny" (I think I added too much water) so when making the shingles, flowers, leaves, and of course Rapunzel herself, I formed the pieces and let them sit out to dry for a couple of hours before using them.

For the shingles, I used two different shades of a purple/brown/gray combination to give them a more "realistic" look. To make them I just rolled out several pieces of the fondant, and cut them into rectangles with a pizza cutter (then let them dry out). It took quite a while to place them individually on the turret but it was a good activity to do while watching TV :) To make them stick, I used regular frosting for the bottom layer of shingles, and for each layer above that I just brushed a little water on the back of each shingle. Water makes fondant stick to fondant -- very strong.The challenge with sculpting Rapunzel was the mushy-fondant issue. I had to do her in stages, allowing her to sit out and harden in between. She had a toothpick through the middle of her for stability. I cut the window opening after I'd covered the tower in fondant; I just used a shape knife and then I scraped out the cake with a fork. In order for the window's "background" to look better (not just crumbly cake & frosting), I covered the inside of the window space with dark chocolate frosting.

All of my kids commented on Rapunzel's bosom. She looked better the night before (I made this cake the night before we ate it & celebrated Molly's birthday)... her neck was longer and she was generally less squished in there. The window arch was higher too. But after spending the night in the fridge with the weight of a huge turret coming down on her head, she collapsed a little... causing her to become a bit more "bosomy." Oh, and for her eyes and mouth I just used a small-ended fondant tool, dipped in a little food coloring gel. I practice on a spare piece of fondant since I knew I'd only have one shot at it! The eyes & mouth were about the last thing I did. The only non-fondant used (visibly) in the decorating of this cake was the yellow centers of the flowers, and the green buttercream along the bottom. The vines, leaves, and red flowers were all fondant. I had two firsts with this cake: I used my fondant-shaping tools, which I'd had for years and not really ever used... they were GREAT for adding texture to Rapunzel's hair, sculpting her face and body, forming the flowers and leaves, etc. The other first was the use of Pearl Dust. It is available in several colors but I just bought white, to be generic. Using a small paint brush I dusted Rapunzel and her hair, the flowers nearest to her, and some of the shingles to give the roof a little shimmer. It was a nice touch. Plus, according to the movie Tangled, Rapunzel's hair is magical so I figured it had better shimmer!

Comparing the during-construction pictures with the finished-product pictures, what do you see? The cake shrunk! This always happens to me; I don't know if it's just the weight of the fondant, or if my cakes are to spongy to hold up, or what. Hm. I think next time I'll make a non-fondant cake and we'll see if, after 24 hours, it can hold up without collapsing. If any of you more-experience bakers out there have any suggestions, please let me know. I still like the way this cake turned out, but the original idea in my head was a taller tower, more like the height this one was before gravity took over!


Danika said...

You are amazing! I have only tried one (somewhat) vertical cake and it was a disaster. I froze my cakes, got them out and formed and decorated them and then when they defrosted they didn't hold the shape anymore and the cake almost collapsed.

stephanie said...

Wow, Sara. That is so beautiful! Molly must have flipped when she saw it. I love your cakes. One of these days maybe I will get fancy and use fondant.

ps So we never got around to picking up mabel's book. Oops. I guess we'll get it this afternoon. See you then!

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