my baby is three: learning to fly ::::
Sky-Girl, you are three years old. Three! Happy Birthday, sweet girl. You use big words like “correctly.” You love to snuggle and stroke my arm when tired. You are a master of costume play, wearing Minnie Mouse ears or sporting swimming goggles and a backpack, looking like Amelia Earhart ready to fly.
During the last few legs of her famed world circumnavigation (that means going around the world — a very long trip!) in 1937, pilot Amelia disappeared over the Pacific Ocean. You may feel like this sometimes, when you’re older, like vanishing into a hole or that you are lost. Remember that I was once a girl, too. I’ve been there. And I know of the wonderful places you’ll go outside that hiding place. It’s not always going to be easy and fun, like dressing up. And sometimes it’s hard having a brother and sister who are older than you are. The mire may try to pull you under, but you won’t end up like Amelia. I know where you are. Even when you are far, you are next to me.
I count your eyelashes. I count them as you sleep, nestled like a tiny bird under the feather of mine. I hear your quiet breath and feel the soft warm puff as you exhale. I watch you grow taller and become more independent, still needing me close but not too close.
Still, when you are grown, I will count your eyelashes as you sleep, still nestled like a tiny bird under the feather of my tired, ragged wing.
Happy Birthday to my baby. Three years old. I love you.
The technical stuff (just as Amelia reviewed similar details with every flight, cakemakers do also): See my Hello Kitty cake roll post to see tips for success. I duplicated the recipe below with modifications for Minnie Mouse colors and design tips. Even though I’ve described it in the recipe body as well as any technical writer could, some people really like a visual when learning. The photos coincide with my descriptions in Steps 5 through 8 in the recipe text below.
Photo instruction for making Minnie’s face:
First, find your template, top with parchment on the cake pan, and pipe the ears and black details (Step 5 in recipe). Freeze the design to firm up slightly, about 15 minutes.
Next, pipe the bow, tongue and eye whites. Since the black pupils are on the eventual top layer of the design (when the cake is done and parchment peeled away), the whites don’t have to be perfectly inscribed around them. Just layer them on. Freeze again. (Step 6 in recipe)
Ready for the face? It’s the same idea of layering on the color as the eye whites. I also added the pink dots for decoration (though they did not fair too well in the end). Freeze again. (Step 7 in recipe)
Here’s an example of not using the face color on another cake trial. The eyelashes, chin, any small lines came off (similar to my Hello Kitty cake issue) and I had to doctor up the design with black gel color dipped in a toothpick and dotted on. Not quite as pretty. Also, I did not freeze the design on this step on this trial: my polka dots are smushed! But they did stay on, unlike my second cake.
Strawberry ice cream works well for a summer cake, even with smushed polka dots. Thaw slightly before serving.
Another issue is when there is more design color layered on (as in Trial #2), I’ve had the dreaded wrinkle occur. The parchment gets damp and causes this. I’m work on using silicone on the next trial (though not for this birthday — two cakes were enough for two parties!).
One year ago: hello kitty cake roll (for sweet Sky-Girl’s second birthday!)
One and a half years ago: We celebrated Sky-Girl’s first birthday realllllly late, and it also coincided with the blog’s fourth anniversary: pandan chiffon cake
Two years ago: goodbye, california!
Three years ago: mummy’s fudgy chocolate oatmeal bars recipe – and our new arrival (the birth of Sky-Girl)
Four years ago: thai iced tea and butterfly purple ombre cake
Five years ago: cranberries all around and honeyed goat cheese tart
- FOR THE PIPING BATTER:
- 2 large eggs (1 egg works too, but the two seem to be better for the consistencies I want)
- scant ⅓ cup (60 g) granulated sugar
- ½ cup + 1 heaping tablespoon (80 g) all-purpose flour
- Scant 3 tablespoons (40 grams) of unsalted butter, softened
- Black, yellow, and red food coloring
- FOR THE CAKE BATTER:
- 10 eggs, separated
- 1½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1¾ cup (155g) cake flour 155g
- scant 1⅓ cup (260g) granulated sugar, divided
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract (optional -- but good!)
- FOR THE FILLING:
- 1½ cups whipping cream, or a bit less (it will squish our as you roll up the cake)
- a bit of sugar to sweeten the whipped cream
- fresh strawberries, sliced to sprinkle on the inside of the cake (you'll need a large handful)
- SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: Three piping bags or prepared parchment cones, three #1- or #2-sized piping tips (depending on the detail of your design), 11x17-inch pan, a clean tea towel the same size as the baking pan. If no piping bags, the small amounts you need for detailing Minnie's face work well in Ziploc bags with the corner cut off (very small corner).
- You also need food coloring to make Minnie's face: black, salmon pink (or other hairbow or tongue color), white (for eye whites; get white food coloring -- it exists!), and pink (or other polka dot color).
- PIPING THE DESIGN: Mix the ingredients for the piping batter, mixing well to make smooth. Divide the batter into five bowls. Mix up black (for ears, eyes), salmon pink (for tongue and bow), pink (for polka dots), light brown-pink (for face), and white (for eye whites).
- Fill each a piping bag (or Ziploc) with each color.
- NOTES ON TEMPLATE: I found a cartoon picture online and printed it out for my template. If you are using lettering or designs that are enantiomeric, make sure to reverse your design for the piping!*
- Position the chosen template underneath the parchment-lined pan. Lightly butter the edges of the pan, but not the bottom where the parchment is. I've actually kept them unbuttered without an issue.
- Pipe Minnie's outline with black, and do her eye pupils and ears. Make sure you do the details thickly, meaning you don't to just shallowly paint on the nose and eyes. The colors need to be anchored into the cake. Otherwise, the details will come off when you roll up the cake. We will work on overlaying parts of the design to help with this in the next steps.
- Freeze to firm up design. Give it about 10 minutes at least.
- Now, pipe on the bow, tongue, and the whites of Minnie's eyes. It's ok if you go over the eye pupils with the white: the other side against the parchment is what we will see. we are adding layers of color underneath. Freeze again.
- Next, pipe the face color on, completely covering the previously piped details and taking care to cover the black lines defining her face (see my photos in the post). This will help keep the fine lines on the cake. You can also add the polka dots on the background design here. Freeze again.
- CAKE BATTER: Meanwhile, mix up the cake batter.
- In a very clean mixing bowl attached to a stand mixer, whip egg whites, cream of tartar, and HALF of the sugar to stiff peaks. Transfer the cloud of egg whites to a large bowl and set aside.
- Don't wash the bowl you whipped the egg whites in, add whip attachment, and add the egg yolks, vanilla extract, lemon extract, and remaining sugar. Beat until pale yellow, smooth, and ribbons in texture.
- Sift the flour one third at a time over the yolk mixture, folding it in.
- Turn your attention to the egg whites and similarly fold them in to the yolk mixture. Take care to fold gently and not smash. Fold until you have a fairly homogeneous batter, a few white streaks being okay.
- Using a larger piping tip or a Ziploc bag with the corner cut off, pipe cake batter gently onto the now-frozen design, trying to fill all the nooks and crannies. Or, gently lie the batter on top of the cold design and gently push batter into place. The better you do this, the less air bubbles will be present in the final design and the less your polka dots will look screwy.
- Bake in the oven for 7 minutes at 375 degrees F, turn pan 180 degrees with pans doubled (one pan under another to prevent browning on the bottom), and bake for 6 more minutes or until cake tester comes out clean in the center or close.
- REST 'N ROLL: Cover the cake with the clean tea towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
- Use a knife to release the edges if not already pulling away and, starting at a shorter width, roll up gently, keeping the towel atop the cake and the parchment stuck on the design surface. Make sure you start on the end of the cake you want tucked inside, so your Minnie Mouse faces are exposed on the outside of the roll. Allow to cool completely, towel rolled up, at least 30 minutes. This step is important to help keep the cake roll from cracking. The unfilled roll up while cooling helps with the cake's "memory" of the final intended shape. You also have to wait until the cake is completely cool to fill it with whipping cream as a warm cake plus whipped cream equals a soggy mess.
- FILLING PREPARATION: When the cake is cool, mix up the filling.
- Whip whipping cream until stiff. Add a tiny bit of sugar if you desire (I send to undersugar because the cake is already so sweet.)
- When cake is cool, unroll gently and peel off parchment paper. Add a larger and clean piece of parchment underneath the cake (this will wrap up the cake when chilling). Trim outside seam edge if raggedy.
- Spread whipped cream onto cake, sprinkle with chopped/sliced strawberries.
- Using parchment to help roll, roll up cake gently. Roll up into parchment and tuck or twist ends as if you were wrapping a large piece of candy. Wrap in plastic and place in the fridge to chill for at least two hours. Wrap with foil if freezing. Allow to thaw in the fridge overnight before serving. Serve with fresh berries, if desired. Keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days. If using ice cream, soften it first, roll and freeze for at least an hour to firm up. Ice cream cake keeps well for weeks if tightly wrapped.