June is over for another year. Earlier in the month our eldest and I have our birthdays and at the end of the month our youngest and our sister-in-law have their birthdays. It is a busy birthday month. But one of my favourite things about all of the birthdays are the cakes! I love cake, and I especially love decorated birthday cakes. I think it stems from the fantastic cakes my Grandma made for all of the grandchildren every year. They were amazing.
So, in the last couple of weeks of May we start planning the cakes. I have a lot of cake decorating books, plus we spend hours surfing the net for ideas. I was super pleased when our youngest picked the Mildred Mouse Cake from the Australian Womens Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book. I am sure you know the book. It is a bookcase staple in Australia. I have my Grandma's copy and in summer, during bushfire season, it gets packed with her handwritten recipes in the Important Documents box, ready to go in case of emergency. Anyway, back to the mouse. I was super pleased because I had loved this cake when I was a child. I loved it so much that I had this cake for two birthdays a couple of years apart. I loved it because it was soooo cute, and because coconut is one of my favourite flavours. I think I was just as excited as our youngest about this cake!
The cake I made tasted nothing like the golden butter cake (delicious with gluten and eggs) I had as a child, but the look of it was the same. This cake is a layered chocolate cake with dark chocolate ganache, with a whipped white chocolate ganache and coconut topping.
The original Mildred Mouse. Note: Our youngest had two of the Crawly Caterpillars for her 2nd birthday, also with coconut.
To make this cake you will need:
- Two packets of Basco Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Mix (plus No-Egg egg replacer to make up two eggs for each mix, plus water and butter as per instructions)
- Four round cake tins (I had two 18cm tins and two 20cm tins)
- 600g good quality dark chocolate melts
- 750g good quality white chocolate melts
- 600mls thickened cream (I like Bulla)
- Desiccated coconut, marshmallows, licorice in a roll and chenille sticks (pipe cleaners) to decorate
As you can see in the picture on the box, this should make a lovely deep cake. However, when there are no eggs, you can't always maintain that kind of lift in a cake mix. The proteins in egg become firm when heated and they trap and hold the air bubbles created by the raising ingredients. Egg free cakes can sometimes look great in the oven, but as they cool they sink right down in the middle and stay a bit gooey. In the original recipe, the butter cake mix is cooked in a pudding tin. I have never been able to perfect a gluten and egg free cake that has worked in this way. The tin is just too deep to hold any sort of form, so I went with the layer cake method.
First, spray all of the tins with non-stick spray and line with baking paper.
Following the directions on the box, throw everything in the mixer and mix until combined. In hindsight, I should have softened the butter in the microwave as the room temperature (brrr!) left the butter being too hard to mix in thoroughly.
Spread the cake mix evenly over all four tins and bake. They won't take as long as a full cake, so keep an eye on them. Leave them to cool completely in the tin. They will be very fragile, so the less handling the better.
While the cake is baking, make the ganache. I made it in the microwave, but you can do it on the stovetop if you prefer. For dark chocolate ganache, use 600g dark chocolate and 300mls of cream. Cook in 1 minute bursts in the microwave on high, stirring for 1 minute between each burst, until glossy and smooth. For the white chocolate ganache, use 750g white chocolate and 300mls of cream and the same process in the microwave. I set both of the ganaches in the laundry (super brrr!) until they were cool enough to put in the fridge. If I had of thought it through, I could have made them the day before and left them on the bench overnight to chill.
When everything is chilled and ready to assemble, cover your cake board in pretty paper and add a smear of ganache in the centre to stick the first layer of cake down.
Place one of the larger cakes in the centre and top with a layer of ganache.
The repeat with the next layer. By this stage the ganache had become firmer and it was a nightmare to spread on the extremely fragile cake. AAAARRRGGGHHH!!!!!!!
Repeat with the third layer, this time softening the ganache required in the microwave for 10 seconds. Much better result. Then pop the whole lot in the freezer for about 15 minutes.
Using a sharp knife, mark the midline of the cake and where you think the top angle of the nose should be. Should look something like an arrow.
Slice the wedges off at an angle to create the nose.
Shape the top, adding some of the crumbly cake you have already trimmed off to fill in any big holes. Pop it back in the freezer
Scoop out some of the white chocolate ganache into a separate small bowl and apply a fairly thin layer to stick down all of the loose crumbs. This is called a crumb coat. As you can see, if this was the final layer, there are a lot of chocolaty crumbs coming through. Not so pretty. By using a separate bowl you minimise the chance of crumbs accidentally getting in the main ganache. Put the cake back in the freezer for a few minutes while you prepare the rest of the ganache.
White chocolate ganache is much softer and more pliable than dark chocolate ganache. It is easy to whip. Use your mixer to beat it for a few minutes, or until you see it becoming lighter in colour and you now have a delicious white chocolate topping.
You can kind of see the colour difference here. Or not. Maybe you had to be here in person.
Then you spread the whipped white chocolate all over the cake, making any final shape adjustments. Carefully spread the desiccated coconut over the top and sides, pressing to secure it. Be warned: it will make a terrible mess. I found the easiest way to remove excess coconut from the cake and board is to use a balloon hand pump. You can get them from cheap shops and party supply places for around $2. Cut a pink marshmallow and roll the cut side in coconut for the ears. Cut another marshmallow for the nose. Using the licorice, cut out a tail and eyes (I used a teardrop shape and cut eyelashes), and use the chenille stick for the whiskers and you are done. One super chubby white mouse ready to eat!
And here is the birthday girl at Grandma and Poppy's for lunch.
Very excited! It turned out to be a very big mouse indeed!
And this is the inside. Oh my goodness, what a mess!! Note to self: Don't leave cake in a heated room before serving! Still, it tasted DIVINE! You can sort of see the layers, and the outside of the cake reminded me of Ferrero Raffaello. Yum! I think it would be nice with a scoop of Bulla Creamy Classic Vanilla ice cream to break up the richness.
Thanks for stopping by! Hmm, I think there is more of that cake in the fridge......
This is how the cake looks when cut after being in the fridge. Now you can see the layers.
Don't worry about the messy, crummy cake board and the uneven layers of ganache. This is a regular, everyday blog, I'm no food stylist!