Meet Kevin. My fiancée is a big fan of Despicable Me, especially the absurdly cute helium voiced minions. Few days have gone by in the past few weeks where we didn’t watch (or quote) this video, or this one, or this one. So I decided a few months back that I would endeavor to make a minion cake for her birthday.
At first my plan was to make a sheet cake that was iced to look like a minion, similar to this one. But then I figured that if I was going to bother at all, might as well do it right.
I decided to use fondant to decorate it instead of icing since I thought it would give me more control and look smoother. Making this a more daunting task was the fact that I have only made cake twice before and certainly never something so decorated as this. After some extensive Google searching I came across many helpful videos that demonstrated everything from how to cut and ice a cake to how to make and apply fondant. I even found a tutorial someone made for making a minion cake. If I can do this, you certainly can too!
So, how did I actually do this? First order of business is to make cake. I made a sweet potato cake with molasses buttercream, recipe courtesy of Love and Olive Oil. For the minion I made four 4.5″ cakes and split the rest of the batter between two 9″ cake pans. I made the 9″ cakes into a basic layer cake (picture below) and stacked the 4.5″ cakes on top of each other to make the minion shape.
Before stacking the cakes you will need to flatten the tops to ensure they stack evenly. When the cakes are fully cool wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. This will make it easier to cut them (and the plastic wrap prevents them from drying out). The weight of the cake, icing, and fondant can become too much to handle so it is a good idea to have internal supports. I achieved this by placing a piece of cardboard between the 2nd and 3rd layers of cake, in addition to four dowel rod supports.
After placing the first two layers of cake (make sure to put icing in between) I cut short two of the dowel rods. I then placed the cardboard round on top of the 2nd layer. This enabled the two shorter dowel rods could prop up the cardboard and help support the weight of the top layers.
The next task is to stack the remaining two cakes and round off the top one to create the shape for the top of the minion’s head. Don’t forget to trim the taller dowel rods so that they don’t stick out the top of the cake. This wasn’t as even as I would have liked but I found when covered in icing (and later fondant) the imperfections fade away.
I’ve omitted a few pictures since there were so many individual steps. After stacking the cakes the next thing to do is cover the cake with a thin coat of icing known as the crumb coat. This does exactly what its name suggests, and gets all the loose crumbs stuck in the icing and creates an overall smoother surface. Refrigerate the cake for about 20 minutes afterward to firm up the icing.
Then, ice the cake with a generous layer of icing like you normally would a cake. Make sure things are smooth, since the next step will to cover it in fondant. You will want to refrigerate the cake once again before before covering in fondant to firm up the icing.
I didn’t take any pictures of the fondant making process because 1) I was freaking out and 2) it was a complete mess. Apparently you can buy fondant from specialty stores, but in an effort to do it myself and have it taste decent I gave it a shot. Here is the recipe that I used. As you’re reading the recipe you’ll notice it says “rub your hands thoroughly with butter”, and then you’ll understand why there are no pictures. I bought yellow, blue, black, and brown coloring gels to color the fondant.
Here is the video that I used to learn how to properly cover a cake with fondant. After covering the cake in yellow fondant add a small blue ribbon around the bottom. Then, create two blue aprons to put on the front and back. These will be the base for the minion’s overalls. I ran small ribbons of fondant to connect these on either side and complete the overalls.
I made small buttons for the overalls and added black fondant to create shoes and gloves. To make the hair I split toothpicks in half, covered them in black fondant, and stuck them into the cake. I then made increasingly small concentric circles to make the eye and gave our minion friend a smile.
Last, add a goggle (with accompanying strap) to complete making your minion. The fondant will help keep in moisture so you can keep this at room temperature for a day or two if you like, just make sure you keep it covered (I used plastic wrap). Whether you make yourself a merry minion or just a basic layer cake, enjoy!
Sweet Potato Layer Cake with Molasses Buttercream (Fills three 9″ cake pans)
For the Cake
- 1 lb sweet potatoes (2 large ones)
- 3 C cake flour
- 1 T baking powder
- 1 1/2 t cinnamon
- 3/4 t nutmeg
- 1/4 t ground cloves
- 1/2 t salt
- 5 eggs, separated
- 2 1/4 cups sugar (divided into 2 C and 1/4 C)
- 1 stick (8 T) butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 t vanilla
- 1 1/4 C whole milk
For the Frosting
- 2 C (4 sticks) butter, room temperature
- 4 C powdered sugar
- 1/4 C molasses
- 1/4 cup milk or cream, as needed
Prick sweet potatoes in several places with a fork and microwave on a plate for 6 minutes. Halfway through flip the sweet potatoes so they cook evenly. Cook for additional time if necessary; the sweet potatoes should be soft all the way around when done. When they have cooled enough to handle peel and remove the skins. Pulse the potatoes in a food processor until smooth and measure out 1 cup of puree.
Preheat over to 350º F and butter/flour the bottoms and sides of three 9″ cake pans. Line the bottoms of each pan with parchment paper. In a small bowl mix together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer beat egg whites on medium speed until they are frothy. Add in 1/4 cup of sugar and beat on high until the eggs are whipped and form stiff peaks. Transfer to another bowl and set aside.
Clean the bowl of the stand mixer and add in sweet potato, butter vanilla, and 2 cups of sugar. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg yolks one at a time, making sure each is mixed well before adding the next. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients followed by 1/2 of the milk. Once mixed add another 1/3 of the dry ingredients and the rest of the milk. Lastly, add the remainder of the dry ingredients. Don’t overmix, stop when everything has been incorporated. Using a large spatula gradually fold egg whites into batter. Don’t mix, but rather gently fold the batter and egg whites together.
Divide batter equally among cake pans and bake for 30 minutes. The cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing from pans and cooling on a wire rack for 1 hour.
While cakes are cooling make the frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer beat butter on medium-high until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, making sure it is well mixed before adding more. Once you have added and mixed all the sugar add molasses and beat until mixed evenly. If needed add milk or cream (1 T at a time) to lighten up the frosting.
Level each cake with a serrated knife and place cakes on top of eachother, adding a layer of buttercream between each cake. Cover the entire cake with a thing layer of buttercream (crumb coat) and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Afterward frost cake with the remaining buttercream and decorate as desired.
Recipe courtesy of Love and Olive Oil.