I can’t believe it, but my “baby” niece has turned five! I have made a cake for each one of her birthdays. Thankfully, my sister lets me design and come up with the concept. My sister’s support has allowed me to grow and learn as a cake decorator over the years. My niece, of course, picks the theme. This year, thanks to Netflix, she has fallen in love with Monster High.
The Game Plan
After looking at some cakes on Pinterest, I got the idea to do a Monster High doll cake. With the popularity of fondant, doll cakes are better-looking than ever. They used to be kind of, well, ugly, but now that we can use fondant to make the dresses look like real fabric, doll cakes are very beautiful and professional-looking.
I started with trying to find a doll that I liked. Target was having a great sale online, plus free shipping, so I grabbed up a doll for about $8. I chose “Frights Camera Action” Draculaura.
There were some really cool doll cakes on Pinterest, but I really wanted to make my own design. I researched “ball gowns” and “Monster High ball gowns” and found a design by Etsy seller Jonna Jonzon. She’s an Etsy seller who makes and sells her own designs to fit MH dolls. They’re simply amazing. It was my inspiration for my cake.
The first couple of things I did for the cake was make her birthday message and some tiny black roses. The birthday message is made with FMM Tappits.
All I did to make the roses was make a small snake of black fondant, pinch one side very thin, then roll it up. Then I carefully made some adjustments so the petals fell more naturally.
Baking the cake
About two weeks before the party, I started baking. I bake, cool, and freeze all of my cakes. I wrap them in plastic wrap and tin foil. Starting early gives me time in case I mess up or a cake doesn’t turn out. You just never know what could happen.
(Notes on the cake: I use a cup of hot coffee for the cake instead of water. Notes on the buttercream: I use half Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa and half Dutch Processed Cocoa. This is just personal preference; these recipes are wonderful as-is.)
I sprayed my Wilton Wonder Mold pan really well with Pam Baking Spray, including the center rod. I baked it at 350 for about 65 minutes. The pan takes six cups of batter, and my recipe makes exactly six cups.
I also used an extra 8″ layer of cake that I had in the freezer from baking cupcakes for a different party. I only needed 15 cupcakes for that project, so I used the rest of the batter to make a 8″ layer for this cake. That’s the great thing about planning ahead!
I decided I wanted to torte my cake for extra height and so it wouldn’t be an enormous piece of cake with no icing in the middle. To help me line them up properly, later I made a line with my AmeriColor Gourmet Writer (purchased on Amazon).
When it had cooled off, I used my Wilton leveler to cut my cake in two places. I played around with the side notches to get them the height that I wanted.
Covering the cake board
I rolled it thick and hoped that it would be big enough.
I greased up my cake board.
Put it on my board.
Cut away the excess with a pizza wheel.
After that I got my fondant smoother dusted with cornstarch and made it as smooth as possible. That pushed it out some more, so I did some more trimming with my pizza wheel (not shown).
Assembling the cake
I decided to start the cake on a Wednesday night so it would give me time to cover it, then decorate it, then put it all together. First, I wrapped the doll’s body in plastic wrap up to her hips. I also wrapped her hair so that it wouldn’t get any icing on it.
I made my favorite dark chocolate buttercream. I stacked the cake on a single 8″ board. I iced between the layers and also put some on the sides of the holes as I went. I used cake scraps to build up the very top tip of the dress. You can also use Rice Krispie Treats for that if you choose. Then I put the doll down through the middle and iced the outside of the cake.
I put the cake on a small board to make it easier to carry around, and put the cake in the fridge over night. The allows the buttercream to harden and allows my frozen cake to thaw gradually. Fondant should never go on a frozen cake because when the cake thaws out it can create condensation and pock marks and ruin your work.
Thursday night, I took her out and got ready to work. I rolled out fondant dyed AmeriColor Electric Pink on my Fat Daddio Mat. This mat is perfect for working with fondant because it doesn’t stick to it. I still use cornstarch to make it even easier to work with. I covered her just about half way up.
The idea with this dress is to build up the layers, just like a real dress. You work from the bottom up.
I decided for her draped fabric that instead of doing actual drapes, I would make logs of fondant and put a flat piece of fondant over it. That way I can have more control over them and I don’t risk them wilting or being uneven. I did this all the way around the dress.
I don’t make black fondant, by the way. I use Wilton Black Fondant. It looks wonderful and works very well.
Piece by piece, I covered each of the sections with fondant. I eye balled the shape, then cut it to size right on the cake with my XActo knife.
The pictures after this part get a little sporatic, but I’ll try to explain what I did. After the draped part of the dress was all finished, I cut a piece of fondant for her torso. I wet the doll’s torso with water to act like glue for the fondant. I lifted the fondant and I let it fall around her like fabric while I wrapped it around her body as one big piece. Then I cut the back to size with my knife. I made some adjustments to make it more fitted in the bodice and cut it again. Then I cut a small bow.
After her torso was finished, I felt like it was really coming together. I used a ball tool to make some impressions in the pink fabric that would look like real fabric gathers.
Next, I rolled some black fabric very thin and used my new FMM lace cutter that my husband got me for Mother’s Day this year. You emboss your fondant, then you cut it. There’s a good YouTube video about how to use these cutter/embossers, which I watched a few times before using them. Then I wet the fondant on the dress and pleated and attached it as I went and cut off the excess.
Are you bored yet?
I added the roses that I had made before, which were perfectly dry now.
After that I got out my clay extruder to make very thin ropes. I used these to cover my seams and raw edges.
This is what my work space looked like when I was done. I worked from about 7:30 – 9:30 that night and cleaned until 10. I put her back into the fridge.
Thoughts on the Fridge – I should note that we have an extra refrigerator which we use primarily for canned soda and beer. I don’t put cakes in my regular refrigerator that holds our food and every day items. I also store my baked cakes in our extra freezer until it’s time to decorate them.
Moving on to Friday …
The only thing that was left for Friday was putting her on the board, adding the letters, and adding some ribbon around the edge.
I put some extra icing on the board for the cake to sit on. This worked as glue.
I gingerly lifted her up and placed her on the icing “glue.”
Then I added the message with some water. I had to adjust it to the left to make sure it would all fit!
Then I cut my ribbon to size and hot-glued it around the edge to give it a finished look.
Here is a detail shot of the lace and the tiny roses. I also dusted the cake with some Wilton silver pearl dust. My link is to Global Sugar Art, but it’s usually available at Michael’s and Joann Fabrics.
I put her back into the refrigerator after she was finished. It’s summer–there are bugs (read: flies) that get into the house no matter what you do. Add heat and humidity and the fact that we do not have central air and that’s why I put my cakes in the fridge. Not to mention the fact that I have kids.
I also made some extra cupcakes. They were delicious!
Here is my finished cake!
This is how I transported her! I put her in a box and wrapped it with Press and Seal wrap. What I like about Press and Seal is that you can press the pieces together to keep dust and unwanted critters out. Again, it is summer – flies always manage to sneak in! We transported her on the floor of our van — not all the way in the back because we have had BAD experiences with that. We shoved the box between the middle row seat and behind the driver seat. She didn’t move an inch.
Is it weird that I am using a human pronoun for this cake??
She was so excited! She ran right to it to get a better look. I got a HUGE hug and she couldn’t stop looking at it. She was all smiles when it was time to sing and cut her cake.
The real moment of truth …
Here it is all chopped up! Even though I took it out on Wednesday, it was still delicious and perfectly moist. I used to be afraid to take cake out too early, but this cake holds up so well in the freezer.
And the doll survived just fine. I pulled her straight out before I cut the cake. We washed her, dried her and put on her outfit and shoes and she was ready to be played with. The cake and doll were my niece’s birthday gift, along with some Monster High stickers that my daughter picked out at Michael’s.
I was so happy to make this cake. After months of planning, I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to pull off the picture that I had in my head. But she turned out better than anticipated. I didn’t even want to cut her! My daughter says she would love one, too, so hopefully I’ll get to try another design one day.
If you made it this far, thank you so much for reading!