Mermaid Barbie Cake with Seashell Cupcakes

Mermaid Cake with a side of cupcakes

Mermaid Cake with a side of cupcakes

I always worry about running out of cake. By “running out of cake,” I mean I worry there will not be enough left over for me to enjoy with a cup of coffee after the party. It’s a real fear. Baking a batch of cupcakes in addition to the main cake keeps me calm. Here’s how I put together a mermaid cake with a side of sea shell cupcakes for my daughter’s 5th birthday.

Mermaid Cake ready for the beach

Mermaid Cake ready for the beach

My guideline to cake baking is that my ingredients and decorations not cost more than the price of a cake at the local bakery. I may not be saving money by baking the birthday cake myself, but I certainly don’t want to blow the budget either. As it turns out the more you create, the more ingredients you have on hand, significantly limiting the number of times you have to untie your purse strings.

 

Wilton Wonder Mold Set

Wilton Wonder Mold Set


I’m teaching myself how to decorate cakes. For now fondant works for me. It’s easy to use. If you have ever spent time in Preschool at the 
Play-Doh table you can decorate a cake with fondant. I also like that I can make the decorations ahead of time. That gives me plenty of time to make, create, and recreate without the pressure of the party deadline looming.For my daughter Ava’s 5th birthday we threw a Mermaid Beach Party at the beach. Ava had her sights set on a “Realistic” Mermaid Cake made by yours truly. Purchasing a Wilton Wonder Mold Pan Set seemed like a logical place to start.

A set of colors pays in the long run.

A set of colors pays in the long run.

For this cake I literally trolled my daughters’ Play-Doh and Moon Dough molds for shapes that could be re-imagined as sea life. For example, Moon Dough has a food kit. The pickles when molded with a pale lavender look like petite sand dollars!I found a great recipe for fondant at The Cook Duke. The flavor and texture are good enough to eat! If you have ever used the pre-made fondant you know exactly what I’m talking about. This recipe makes enough to cover a cake or in my case makes plenty to play with.

Play-Doh and Moon Dough molds work  as well as expensive silicon molds

Play-Doh and Moon Dough molds work as well as expensive silicon molds.

 At Ava’s suggestion I tinted a basic recipe of white cake batter a pretty shade of Caribbean blue and followed the Wilton baking instructions for the Mermaid Barbie Cake.I spent an evening rolling little pastel balls and tubes of fondant. Truly the skills honed in preschool.

I used toothpicks to hollow them out to replicate coral and sponges. I twisted thin strips into sea grass. I found molds for fish and stars and of course the sand dollars.

I covered the cake and the cupcakes in butter cream. This was a children’s party. I thought the texture of fondant would be too chewy for the kids to use on the entire cake.

 

Simple molds and easy twists create a seascape.

Simple molds and easy twists create a seascape.

Don't forget to decorate the back!

Don’t forget to decorate the back!

At this point decorating was a snap. Just place the now hard fondant decorations on top of the icing. I left the mermaid tail to the end because fondant dries rock hard. I wanted the tail to curve “naturally” around the cake. As it turned out this was a mistake. The tail did not have enough time to dry and the color began to drip at the party. This was a minor disappointment noticed by me and perhaps me alone. However, in hind sight I would have shaped the tail and left it to dry overnight on the cake pan.

Duff cupcake hooks help fish swim.

Duff cupcake hooks help fish

I dusted the tops of the cupcakes with sugar in the raw to replicate sand. It was not overly sweet and gave the icing a nice texture. The seashells are marbled white chocolate.

Sugar in the raw and chocolate sea shells.

Sugar in the raw and chocolate sea shells.

Sadly both the cake and cupcakes were a hit at the party. I was unable enjoy a slice of cake with my coffee after the bash. Ah well, there will always be another party.

The good news; I stayed on budget for this cake even with the cake pan purchase. Mermaid cakes start at about $45 in the bakery. I spent under $30 for the cake and two dozen chocolate topped cupcakes.

More importantly than a well budgeted party, Ava had a cake tailored to her imagination. You can’t put a price on that.

Happy Birthday Mermaid Ava!

Happy Birthday Mermaid Ava!

 

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