Despite the “Cinderella Ball” theme, both (older) girls decided that they wanted unique cakes that represented their own favourite princesses: Ella chose Aurora, Grace chose Belle and Ella chose Sofia for Imogen (!).
I did loads of “research” on all of the different Beauty & the Beast Cakes out there and decided that I wanted something new and excited, and in particular, something based on the new movie.
I LOVED the new Beauty & the Beast movie – like really really really loved it (!) – and equally loved both ballgowns that Emma Watson wears, so when Grace said “Belle cake,” I said “absolutely!” I spent a LOT of time staring at the golden dress and after sketching up some ideas (see below – yes, I did go out a buy a new sketchbook just for the occasion)…
I did change bits as I went along, but for the most part, stuck to the original design as best as I could.
As with the unicorn cake I made for Eloise’s birthday the week before, I made this cake from chocolate (and vanilla swirl) sponge and covered it in dark chocolate ganache. I really like working with ganache, and after watching a lot of tutorials by Paul Bradford (if you’ve not checked out his FREE tutorials, you really ought to!), I don’t think I’ll ever go back to buttercream (unless specifically asked).
I also attempted to make my own marshmallow fondant for this cake, which I’ll admit tasted much nicer than store bought fondant, but was both insanely messy (!), and I found tore badly when icing a double barrel cake. 🙁 Thankfully for this cake it didn’t matter how bad my bottom layer of fondant looked as it was covered from top to bottom with ruffles and pleats!
Once I’d covered both tiers (each tier has four layers of cake seperated by a layer of dark chocolate ganache – top 6″ cake, bottom 8″) I started on the ruffles of the “skirt.” There are lots of tutorials out there on how to make fondant ruffles, and I found the best tutorial available was on the website Rose Bakes, so I won’t attempt to show you how to “ruffle” fondant when someone with much greater skills can show you instead!
That said, I made one change to the process and, instead of cutting out straight ribbons, I found that cutting out circular ribbons of fondant helped curl the ruffles. I found that the straight ruffles fell flat on my cake as the ruffle was pointing down, instead of up, as shown in the tutorial.
Once I started getting the ruffles right, I added them to my cake in precisely the same way (albeit upside down) to the tutorial.
The toothpicks were essential to this process in order to help ensure that the ruffles curled upwards; and (as you’ll see below) I was, at first, really worried about the holes left behind, but I found an amazing “gunge” recipe that worked absolute wonders and by the end there wasn’t a hole in sight!
Once I was happy with the ruffles I covered the top layer with a circular piece that curved over the edges to help further the image of a “dress.”
Next was the really tricky part of adding the “pleats” to the top layer “bodice.”
In order to replicate Belle’s dress on the cake I started with further ruffles, in a v-shape, down the front and then framed them with v-shaped pleats.
The ruffles were simple as I’d just completed the bottom half of the cake, but the pleats proved to be somewhat of a mystery to me and I ended up employing two seperate techniques to get the look I wanted.
The first was to cut out ribbons (1/2 inch) and glue each on as close to the ruffles as I could, over lapping each to create the illusion of the pleats. I knew I couldn’t keep it up all the way around the cake and in the end chose to finalise the top tier by creating larger pleats as shown in this video.
In the end, I was very pleased with the result and would definitely use this technique again in the future.
As I mentioned above, when I removed the toothpicks there were loads of visible holes that I wanted to cover up — this was much easier than I’d initially anticipated and was so glad that I came across the gunge recipe.
In order to cover up the not-so-neat top, I cut out a further circle of fondant, shaved down the ends of the “pleats” glued to top of cake, and added the circle to make it all look much neater!
My biggest regret with this cake was that I was unable to replicate the beautiful golden swirls and patterns on the dress worn by Emma Watson. Unfortunately, every time I tried to hand paint on the swirls, stars, etc., I simply made a complete mess of the ruffles/pleats and finally had to settle for painting the tips of each ruffle gold (using edible gold dust and vodka) and adding tiny little golden lines to the first pleat on the bodice (I found that adding gold paint to the other pleats just made the whole thing look messy!).
Finally, I added the pièce de résistance, the fondant tiara I modelled after the golden necklance worn by Emma Watson in the 2017 movie (also painted in gold dust and vodka).
Note: The rhinestones were NOT edible and I actually super glued each of them onto the fondant! Not to be consumed by anyone!
And finally, we had a Belle Cake!
Another Note: I had every intention of creating a red rose myself for the cake, but I completely ran out of time and the local cake craft store sold fondant roses for £1.50 so I took the easy way out and just bought one! I did, however, tip the rose in red sparkle dust (again painting it on with vodka) to give it a more “magical” appearance.