Poppy’s Under the Sea Cake

(Photo by Danni Chau)

I still have glitter and icing sugar stuck in my carpet, but I’m not even mad, because I got to live vicariously through a three year-old and make the cake of my dreams. Yes it’s true, The Little Mermaid is still my favourite movie. Yes, I am nearly 28 years old. Is this a problem? Is a singing Jamaican crab not the best character Disney ever came up with? Well?!

(Although I have to admit, the line “darling, it’s better, down where it’s wetter” takes on quite a different meaning when you’re an adult. Dat Sebastian, smooth operator).

So anyhow, Poppy, being the deadset legend of a three year old that she is, wanted to be a mermaid and have an under the sea party. And who are we to say no? Especially with my predisposition for all things aquatic. And shiny. And cake. As usual, Poppy’s mum Danni had a vision (i.e. scrolled through some cool pics on Instagram), and it was up to me to execute the idea (or fail, failure was a distinct possibility). And make it vegan, if possible. This took a bit of planning, including emailing to make sure food colouring etc. was vegan (Wilton food colouring is entirely vegan, FYI. Also, they’re really nice and really prompt with email replies. 10/10 service).

Next was deciding how to decorate. Danni and I threw around a whole bunch of ideas, including chocolate coral, and elaborate chocolate seahorses and other sea creatures. Eventually, due to budget and time restraints, we settled with fondant shells made with silicone moulds and store-bought vegan fondant. Turns out vegan fondant is super soft, so I had to add a lot of icing sugar so it would pop out the mould smoothly. Another pro tip is to dust the inside of the mould with icing sugar as well so it’s less sticky (but not too much as it makes the outside look kinda chalky – fine for seashells, not so much other things I imagine).

(Photo by Stacey Blood)

The inspiration for the decoration style was from Unbirthday Bakery, who you need to look up on Instagram. Right now. Then drool forever. Their piping is so clever, and some of it makes me think of little barnacles, which I tried to emulate here. I should also take a moment here to give a big shout out to Cake Tinz n Thingz in Balcatta. Their staff are SUPER friendly and went out of their way not only to Google E-numbers on food colouring and fondant to see if they were vegan, but also to find me the right piping nozzles I needed to pull this cake off. Seriously, the best. Go see them and spend all your monies there (and buy me stuff while you’re at it. Cheers).

Here’s a close-up of the detail. I can post pictures of this cake forever. I am that stoked on it.

Oh, and the inside?

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! (Photo by Stacey Blood).

The cake flavour is a vanilla number (recipe here). I was a bit hesitant to use olive oil in a vanilla cake, since the flavour can be quite strong, but the icing masked it most of the time and even complemented it quite well (if you got the ratio of icing to cake right. Which is to say, lots of cake with even more icing). The icing is just margarine (I used Nuttelex) with icing sugar and vanilla essence (and a bit of soy milk to thin it out when needed). Nuttelex has a BUTTERY version now which is A+ delish and imitates buttercream pretty closely when used in this manner. SO GOOD.

(Photo by Stacey Blood)

The birthday mermaid was super stoked. Who wouldn’t be impressed with a cake twice the flippin’ size of their face?! I should mention that I didn’t intend to make the cake this big originally. It just kind of happened. Basically I accidentally made a gigantic cake, because a smaller cake did not meet my stringent Under the Sea criteria. I sent a pic to Danni being like “…so this happened” and she was like “wtf, man”.

Have I mentioned that Under the Sea theme is very important to me?

Look, I even dressed up at this thing (photo by Jesse Roberts). Actually no, what am I saying, this is like my everyday fucking wear. Just call me Ocean Girl. Ironically, totally crap swimmer. Not to mention I’m a FRESHwater biologist. Whatever, close enough. There’s freshwater mermaids, right?

This kid is the real star though. Look at her! Her Bà Ngôai made the entire costume from scratch (except her headband, which I made)! This shit is so lit I can’t even deal. I’m so grateful to be able to do awesome cake-related favours for my friends. And also being able to live out my mermaid dreams. Thanks for the party Poppy! Until next year!

(We have aready agreed on a smaller cake for her 4th birthday).

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