This cake may not look like my usual minimalist, mostly symmetrical cake decoration style, but there’s a very good reason for it! Recently I was asked to make a Moana cake for a 6 year old’s birthday party. If you have no idea what Moana is, Google it! Or I could just tell you…it’s the latest Disney film and it’s basically Pocahontas but set in Polynesia, not America, or so I’m told (I still haven’t seen it, despite a few very strong recommendations…). So how do you make a Moana cake aside from doing a slightly creepy cake of Moana’s face? Well, that’s a good question. Hello, Pinterest! It’s such a helpful thing! I don’t know what the rest of the world uses Pinterest for, but I basically only use Pinterest for baking and other food-related things more generally. It’s the sort of place that has a niche for everyone (cooking, architecture, diy hacks, styling, weddings, film & television, travel and some very geeky stuff too). So much so that typing Moana cake into the search engine brings up literally hundreds of results.
I don’t know who spends their time putting all these pictures up on Pinterest, but THANK YOU! You are absolute life savers and generous creative-genius promoters. And honestly, having Pinterest makes my baking (particularly the creative side of baking) so much easier! It’s like having someone to bounce ideas off, a sounding board if you will, but you don’t have to bother anyone with your endless questions (but, I don’t know which kind of frosting to use? Do I even have time for that? But what if I put those funny chocolate Corinthian sticks here? Or maybe there? Or maybe I just shouldn’t use them at all? But I can’t find a Moana figurine! How do I make it look properly Moana-esque without spending hours making my own mini Moana raft?). You get the picture. Pinterest is a huge sieve (maybe it’s more like a crucible) for my endless, sometimes ridiculous baking-related thoughts.
And so, after (possibly) several hours of Pinterest searching I decided to keep it simple. Very, very simple. Two-layer-chocolate-cake-with-blue-frosting simple. And my reasoning was also simple: better to do something that you know you can manage and make it look good, than attempt to do something you’ve never done before that may look awful if you don’t do it perfectly. But I did use two different shades of blue, so I get some brownie points, right? And then it hit me, wouldn’t it be way more fun for the birthday girl if I let her decorate her own cake? And there’s the reason the photo doesn’t look like my usual style of cake – I might have made the cake, but it was decorated by the birthday girl!
But, before I delivered the cake, I thought I’d decorate the cake myself with a few shells just to take some photos for this blog. But I needn’t have bothered! The birthday girl did such an incredible job decorating this amazing cake you see above! It’s so wonderfully colourful and exciting (much more so than mine)! She even placed two shells together to create “clams” and put little silver cachous inside the clam as the pearl – I was so blown away by her creativity! In comparison, here’s my (subdued and rather boring) version:
Clearly hers trumps in colour and style! She’s a clever little cookie, so much so that she even checked that I had washed the shells that I gave her to put on the cake! I assured her that I did! Twice!
Ocean Blue Moana Cake
Serves 20-30 people | Allow 3 hours
450g unsalted butter
450g dark chocolate
700g caster sugar
270g plain flour
270g self-raising flour
100g cocoa powder
250g unsalted butter
8 cups icing sugar
blue food colouring
2 tbs milk
- Line two 22cm and two 17cm cake tins with baking paper, set aside. Pre-heat oven to 160°C fan-forced.
- Make the cake: combine butter, chocolate, sugar and water in a large saucepan over low heat, stirring until the butter and chocolate have melted and you have a smooth consistency. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
- Whisk eggs lightly and add to the chocolate mixture with the milk. Whisk until well-combined.
- Add flours and cocoa and whisk again until smooth and pour evenly into lined tins. Bake for 20-30 minutes for the smaller cakes, and 30-40 minutes for the larger cakes – check that the cakes are cooked with a skewer. There should still be a bit of moist crumb on the skewer when it’s done. Set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, make the frosting: beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until creamy and smooth.
- Gradually add the icing sugar and milk, and beat on a low speed until you have a good consistency – you should be able to ice the cake easily enough without the frosting dripping off it and spreading too much. If the mixture is too soft, add more icing sugar; if the mixture is too stiff, add more milk.
- Add about 2 drops of blue food colouring, depending on what sort of blue you want.
- Once the cakes have cooled completely, sandwich the two large cakes together with some of the frosting. Do the same with the two smaller cakes.
- Place the large cake on the board or plate you wish to serve the cake on and frost with the remaining frosting, making sure to leave enough for the top half of the cake.
- Place the smaller cake on top of the larger cake and frost completely – if you want to have two different coloured cakes, add some more colouring before frosting the smaller cake.
- Top with any decoration you like – sea shells work well for an ocean cake, but there are plenty of other options too.