Monday, June 18, 2012

My Mediocre Winnie the Pooh Cake

My daughter Sophia turned four this past weekend and I baked her a cake for her Winnie-the-Pooh themed party.  I searched the internet for Winnie the Pooh cakes, looking for ideas, but most were either the shape cake types (where you have to buy a cake pan shaped like Winnie that you'll never use again and fill it in with hundreds of little stars/flowers of frosting) or fondant (I don't like how fondant tastes, nor have I ever used it before) or bakery type cakes that had little figures stuck on them.

Where was just a Winnie the Pooh sheet cake that had a frosting picture of his face?  I decided to try to do it on my own.  My cake decorating skills are limited, at best.   I had gone out to dinner the night before with my parents who were in town, and by the time I put our daughter to bed, it was getting quite late.  

I made a batch of buttercream icing (recipe follows) and then squirted some yellow liquid food coloring into it.  I wanted a lemon yellow base.  I frosted the cake, saving a bit of the yellow frosting to use for a darker color.  I took a tooth pick and sketched out an outline of Winnie's face, eyes, nose and mouth, using a Winnie the Pooh paper plate (purchased for the party) as my model.
My Winnie the Pooh Model - a Paper Plate!
Then I added more drops of yellow + one or two drops of red.  This golden orange color was for Winnie's face and arms.  I used a smaller frosting knife to get his face filled in, then used store-bought red frosting to frost his shirt (I figured using red food coloring would not be 'rich' enough red).  I used store-bought black gel icing to fill in his eyes, nose and mouth.

I have a cake decorating kit -- nothing fancy -- but it came to my attention that the smallest nib (the pencil thin one used for piping in writing) was missing.  It must have been lost when we moved here last January.  I tried to write Happy B-Day Sophia using a larger thick nib, but it looked like an orange hot mess.

My daughter loves colors like red, pink, purple -- the usual.  But she definitely does not like black or brown.  Should I use the left over black gel to pipe in Happy B-Day Sophia on top of the orange?  The built in applicator was pretty thin, but the gel did tend to smear.  I decided to go for it and ask for forgiveness later.  (Sophia asked "Mommy, why did you write in chocolate?"  and I tried to explain...)  Overall, she was happy, but told me she wished she had gotten to help me (seemed sad about that).  She also asked me why Winnie was holding her name with his a Mom, I find that some questions are just hard to answer.
My Mediocre Winnie-the-Pooh Cake!

So here's my end result, a mediocre--but home-decorated--Winnie the Pooh cake.  No one ever asks me "Did you get this at a bakery?" when I decorate my cakes, but hey, I like the homemade look.  It took a lot of time and I'm proud that I didn't just buy a figurine or two (which they even use on bakery cakes!) to take the easy way out.  It seemed to make people happy, and most people wanted a slice of the cake rather than the chocolate cupcakes I had on hand.  Sometimes, mediocrity can be the very definition of success.  Just looking at his slightly loopy face makes me smile.

Winnie the Pooh Cake, made in the shade

Buttercream Frosting
1/3 c. butter (5 tablespoons)
1 lb. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4-1/3 c. milk

Beat butter in mixer until soft.  Add powdered sugar one cup at a time, blending slowly.  Add vanilla and milk to desired consistency.  For thicker frosting (better for decorating), add less milk, for spreading smoothly on sheet cakes, add more milk.

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