I’m not sure how I got into this. I find that I often volunteer my cake services unconsciously – in an almost tourette’s like fashion. I blurt it out completely uncontrollably! Usually it ends well, although this one threw me for a loop. Having extended the offer, I then found out that the lovely birthday girl was having her party at the local movie theatre where all the guests would be watching the new Disney movie Frozen, on opening day. Sounds like fun, no? The only trouble was – being that it was opening day and all – there was no nicely premade character pan for me to fill with cake batter, decorate by number and present with a flourish. I had to do it completely freehand. It must be noted that I have NEVER done a freehand cake before. No shape pan, no colour by number instructions, just me, my love of all things Wilton, my Michael’s membership, my creativity and a small picture of the lovable Olaf on my phone!
I tossed around a few ideas – Olaf cake pops, 3D upright Olaf, and such before settling on a horizontal small Olaf shaped cake and 4 dozen Olaf mini cupcakes (but that’s a whole other post you can find here). I started out with 2 small round cakes, using my 6 inch Wilton Decorator Preferred round pans. I am ashamed to admit that when decorating a cake, I typically cheat a bit and use a cake mix and pre-made icing – I like Duncan Hines mixes and whipped frosting. My rule of thumb is that if I’m spending a lot of time decorating, I am not spending a lot of time baking. If I want to whip up something from scratch, it will not be decorated extravagantly. I simply don’t have time for both! As is my standard practice, I bake the item the day before I am decorating, and decorate the day before the item is needed. I like to have lots of room in case something goes sideways. Once I had the cakes, I used some icing and a small tip (I believe it was either a #3 or #5 Wilton Round decorating tip) to freehand an outline of Olaf’s head on one cake, and body on the second cake. I then used a serrated, pointy tip knife to cut out the outline.
Once I was happy with the shape, I brushed the cake as smooth as possible with a silicone pastry brush to get rid of as many crumbs as I could. Then I ripped strips of aluminum foil to tuck under the edges of the cake to keep the icing from the cake board (I used a 10×14 simple rectangle board). Typically I will use parchment or waxed paper, as they work much better and come away easier, but aluminum foil was all I had on hand. Since I had a particularly crumby cake, and white icing is extremely unforgiving, I applied a thin layer of the white icing I was using to catch and seal all the remaining crumbs to the cake. I let it sit for a while to set a bit so I could ice over it without stirring up the crumbs.
Once the first layer was set, I added my finishing layer of white icing. Scooped it straight out of the container and spread and smoothed with a Wilton 11 inch Straight Spatula. I piped in the pupils and buttons first with a Wilton Ready To Use Icing Tube in black and a large Wilton Round Decorating Tip – in a size 10 or 12. I always us the ‘Ready-To-Use’ icing when doing any detailing in black as – I discovered from previous experience – black icing (and often red as well) is IMPOSSIBLE to mix using icing colours and white icing. No matter how much colour you add, you always end up with a very very dark grey. So much time saved and a proper colour achieved! The ready to use tubes are so easy, you simply pop the cap off, pop the tip of choice on and screw a coupler ring over top and you are good to go.
Once the pupils and buttons were done, I switched the tip on my black icing to a small round decorating tip in a size 3 or 5 to pipe in the outline of the eyes. I piped in the nose next, again with a ready to use tube in orange and a large round decorating tip in a size 10 or 12. For the mouth I mixed a bit of the black icing from the ready to use tube in with my Duncan Hines fluffy white frosting to make a shadowy grey colour. I put one half of a coupler set into a disposable decorating bag and filled it with icing. I snipped the tip of the bag off with my handy dandy bag cutter (I seriously LOVE this thing) then added a #3 round decorating tip and attached it with the coupler ring. I piped the outline of the mouth before filling it in. I patted and smoothed it down with a clean finger tip dipped in cornstarch (so the icing doesn’t stick to your finger).
Next step was the get some Ready-To-Use White Rolled Fondant. Since I just needed a small piece, I didn’t bother rolling it out, I simply tore off a hunk and worked it in my hand like playdough until it was soft and malleable. I shaped in into a flat rectangle and placed it at the top center of Olaf’s mouth as his very prominent tooth.
At this point I very carefully pulled the aluminum foil strips out from the sides of the cake and smoother down any little bits of icing that pulled out along the bottom. When the board was neat and tidy, I mixed some brown icing colour in to my fluffy white icing and piped in the eyebrows on his head, and twig hair and arms (directly on the cake board) using the same tips and disposable decorating bag as I did with the grey icing for the mouth. With these final steps, my freehand masterpiece was complete!
The most nerve wracking part of any cake decorating experience for me is transporting the finished cake – that I have poured my heart and soul, not to mention blood, sweat and tears into – without totally wrecking it along the way. Luckily Olaf made it safe and sound and everyone enjoyed him thoroughly!