The Japanese BFG

Remember my Chanel bag cake for my friend last year? This year, I had to make something better, and I had no idea what she wanted. What better way to know than to ask her myself. Her response? “I want a Totoro Cake” and she provided a few photos of a mini figurine she had.

Who is Totoro?

My head goes into drive as to how I would make it. I only know the existence of this animated character but have never watched the movie. I think he’s like a BFG from the Roald Dahl book, just fluffier, and it is an animal. After looking at some images, character cakes like Totoro don’t scare me as much as it did a year ago, simply because I know it does not require a complicated internal structure.

I, have never, ever, watched this movie before. I knew of its existence, but it never grabbed me. Not until now! He does look like a more adorable BFG I think 🙂

In order to create his shape, I would make him as I did with my Minion months ago – a double barrel cake, and then carve to create this almost oval shape. And the rest will be to create detail on his face and body, and I think I’m he’ll look perfect.

I usually search on Google for any cake project if it was made into a cake, and I did the same for this Totoro project. There were a few that I found to be my source of inspiration, but the one that grabbed me the most was the one from Mike McCarey from Mike’s Amazing Cakes which I referred to often because Google did not have a lot of photos of Totoro in the movie which was rather inconvenient (if you looked up Totoro on Google, there is a lot of images that are not from the film, and I struggled to make sure there is some resemblance to the character in the film.

Looks like the animated character I think! Cake by Mike McCarey of Mike’s Amazing Cakes

My friend requested that the cake needs to be packed with flavour as well, and so I went with my white chocolate and banana mud cake which I wrote about in a previous blog post. Without going into much detail, I’ll post some photos for you to look at and you can see the progress of this edible Totoro goodness!

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The cake was stacked to double-barrel height – I used the white chocolate banana mud cake with peanut butter ganache as in the previous post 🙂

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All ganached and ready to be dressed in grey fondant

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Cake scraps!

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Cake carving time – I needed this photo to know what I’m doing with this cake, plus I had my housemate cast her eyes over to see if I got the right shape

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Fondant is on! And I’ve textured the cake board with some scrunched up foil.

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Totoro’ leaf hat – I placed it on a sheet of aluminium foil that has been scrunched and not laying flat on the bench. This gives the leaf some movement

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I added some colour to the leaf with some petal dust – This gives it some texture and doesn’t look so flat

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Making the umbrella – to be honest, I should have measured each point of the umbrella correctly to make it look uniform. But I can assure you the final effect looks great!

 

After a week’s worth of work, I finally got to present this to my friend at her birthday dinner.  She was in awe, and surprisingly some other guests at the restaurant caught a glimpse of the cake as it was brought out they had to sneak a few photos. Hehe!

PicMonkey totoro night

 

It’s an amazing process as a cake decorator that you know what you’re doing is leading towards a really awesome masterpiece. Character cakes are really fun to make, and the challenge is always to replicate how to really look. Did she recognise it? Indeed she did, and I hope you think it looks the same too!

 

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Totoro – I liken it to the anime version of the BFG, mild and caring 🙂

White Chocolate Banana Mud Cake

I can now, breathe a deep sigh of relief, now that this cake project is done and dusted.

Simply because I had no where to look for this recipe in the first place.

I had difficulty finding a tried and tested recipe to make a banana flavoured cake that can withhold carving for a 3D cake (if you stick around, you’ll know what I mean when I have another post coming up). I was watching Masterchef Australia a couple of weeks ago where team America on the episode served up a Peanut Butter Mousse with Grilled Banana and Maple Bacon Crumb. It was to represent the infamous Elvis Presley Fried Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich inspired dessert. If they can serve it as a dessert, surely I can serve it as a cake! After deliberating with the housemate, I decided to have a banana cake that will go gorgeously (or so I think) with a peanut butter ganache. As for the bacon, well…. I’ve never entertained the idea of bacon with anything sweet. Not even maple and bacon pancakes, ever.

I don’t have a repertoire of cake recipes yet, so I rely on the Internet for them. I didn’t consider the idea of a regular banana cake because I did not know if it will handle carving or not.  Hence the idea of a mud cake as such. There seems to be a recipe that’s going around for a White Chocolate and Banana Mud Cake which people seem to like a lot, because it’s moist as well, and so I decided to give it a go. I was apprehensive to try the recipe out, and I sat down with this recipe plus a regular white chocolate mud cake recipe to see if there’s anything that I had to adjust. The noise in my head was loud, with thoughts like:

This cake must be predominantly banana flavoured, white chocolate must not overpower the flavour!

Will the cake rise? How do I adjust the plain flour and self-raising flour compositions?

I cringed, simply because I had never adjusted recipes or created a recipe of my own. But it was an experience to adjust the amounts, and I think the cake turned out to be really moist, with a  great banana flavour that takes a few days to develop. The downside? It ended up with a fairly big dome on top, and I put it down to the self-raising flour, as there was no raising agents added to my batter. The temperature was not a factor, I think, for the dome on the cake as it was at a low-ish temperature of 125 degrees Celcius, fan-forced oven.

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Lovely golden brown, but if only it didn’t rise that much

The peanut butter ganache was less difficult in working out proportions, my aim for this ganache was to ensure that the peanut butter does not affect the integrity of the ganache. The idea of peanut butter ganache first appeared when I came across a Facebook post by Rudy Martinez from Man Bakes Cake where he used Reese’s Peanut Butter Chips. I didn’t have Reese’s and I thought it to be pricey given Reese’s is not readily available in Australia other than American specialty stores. So I made up dark chocolate ganache as how I would make it, then added 100g of peanut butter. I could not taste the peanut butter, so I added another 100g to it and it tasted divine I was happy with the consistency of it at the end – after all, the ganache has to be of “peanut butter consistency” for spreading onto the cake. Get it? Get it?

I am putting my own twist on this mud cake recipe and the peanut butter ganache, and I hope you find the same joy as I did eating making it.  And if you do find a better alteration to the recipe I do hope you will share it with me. Forgive me if I have not provided enough information for my recipes, am happy to help you out whichever way possible!

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Pardon the mess, but as you can see I have the banana + egg + vanilla mixture in the bowl on the left, and the dry ingredients in the right bowl

White Chocolate and Banana Mud Cake (adapted from http://www.bestrecipes.com.au/recipe/white-chocolate-and-banana-mud-cake-L1342.html; source unknown)

250g unsalted butter

250g white chocolate – I use white cooking chocolate from the supermarket

160g water

225g caster sugar

260g plain flour

150g self-raising flour (I used 160g and found that it creates a high dome – reduced the amount so that it is more level)

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 eggs

3 large bananas

1/2 tsp salt

  1. Preheat oven to 120 degrees Celcius fan-forced; feel free to use conventional settings but you may want to increase by 20 degrees Celcius.
  2. Melt butter with the water in a saucepan at low heat. Once the butter has melted, add the white chocolate and mix until all the white chocolate has melted. Stir it every now and then to prevent the chocolate from catching at the bottom of the saucepan. Once all the chocolate has melted and well mixed through the mixture, take the pan off the heat and set aside to cool.
  3. Mash bananas, eggs and vanilla in a separate bowl until it has a paste-like consistency.
  4. Add the flours into another separate bowl. Add sugar in and mixed until well combined – this also helps to “sift” the flours, I do not usually sift my flour, but whatever you’re comfortable with.
  5. When the chocolate mixture has cooled a little, add it into the bowl of flour and sugar mixture. Then add the eggs and banana and mix well with a whisk.
  6. Pour into prepared tins and cook for approximately 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of the tin and the temperature of the oven.
  7. Cake is cooked when the skewer comes out clean and the the top has a springy golden brown colour crust

Peanut Butter Ganache

600g dark chocolate (you may use compound chocolate if you like)

300mL cream (thickened cream is okay in this case)

200g peanut butter

  1. Heat cream in a saucepan until boiling. You will notice the cream will start to bubble up but not to the point that it boils over too!
  2. Let the cream cool a little, then pour over the dark chocolate in a microwaveable bowl. Let the dark chocolate “steep” in the hot cream to ensure it melts.
  3. Using a spatula, mix the chocolate and cream together until the chocolate has completely melted into the cream. If there are noticeable solid lumps in the ganache, the chocolate has not melted and you may put it back in the microwave for 20 seconds to ensure the chocolate has melted.
  4. Add the peanut butter in at this stage and mix it until well combined. Leave ganache to cool and set overnight before using on the cake.

Note:  If you think the taste of the dark chocolate may be overpowering, feel free to use milk chocolate or white chocolate for a sweeter offering, bearing in mind that you may have to reduce the amount of cream so that the ganache can still set hard – always remember to use the ratio of 2.5:1 of milk chocolate to cream for milk chocolate ganache; and 3:1 of white chocolate to cream for white chocolate, in these cases you may need to use less than one part cream to compensate for the addition of peanut butter.

Or if you can’t be bothered with a cake, why not try out Nigella’s recipe for a real Elvis Presley’s Fried Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich!