When I usually set out to decorate a cake, I have a pretty good idea of the look I’m going for. But for my niece Ella’s Dora the Explorer cake I didn’t have a solid cake design in mind.
I knew I wanted a big Dora head on top of the cake but I was weighing my options right until the last second.
Fondant or buttercream?
Fondant and buttercream?
Mostly buttercream and just a fondant Dora?
Gah! I was indecisive and didn’t have a lot of time to ponder options. So I sort of winged it and set to work on a Dora the Explorer cake for my sweet Ella.
Step 1. Make Dora look like Dora
Character cakes can go horribly wrong and the big challenge for this cake is Dora. I knew that if I didn’t get her right, this cake would be a total flop. So it was parchment paper templates and the Internet to the rescue! I found this simple Dora the Explorer image at funnycoloring.com and it was the perfect size for my 13 x 9″ cake.
I simply traced a Dora face, hair and facial features and then I cut template pieces to assemble her face and hair.
Once I had Dora looking decent and not deformed (I did it! Yay!), I relaxed and focused on the rest of the cake decorating.
Step 2. Ice the cake
I applied a thin crumb coat to the sides of the cake and then iced and smoothed the top with blue buttercream. I went easy on the icing to avoid having globs of buttercream oozing out between the fondant decorations.
Step 3. Decorate the sides
For the sides of the cake, I opted for wide stripes of green and pink fondant pieces.
I simply rolled and cut 1-inch wide strips, and then I attached them to the sides of the cake by lightly brushing them with water and pushing them into place. I trimmed most pieces before I attached them but you could also line them up with the top edge of the cake and then run a pizza wheel along the bottom edge to trim the excess. Then I used a fondant smoother to smooth and gently press the pieces into place.
Steps 4. Add accents and finishing touches
I used my trusty leaf cutter set to cut large and small leaves and then I used a small spatula to press veiny indentations into the leaves for detail.
Finally, I added a map and hand-wrote a happy birthday message for Ella using a black food colouring marker.
For finishing touches, I randomly placed leaves around the cake until I was happy with the design. I had to restrain myself from getting too detailed.
I fought the urge to quickly make Backpack and add Dora’s torso; and tri-toned leaves for extra dimension would’ve been nice but before I knew it, I was out of time — and fondant — so I quit while I was ahead. Sometimes good enough is good enough, right?
Here’s a Vine clip that shows the cake coming together like magic…
Ella was super excited when she saw her birthday cake. With an enthusiastic: “YOU MADE MY CAKE? I LOVE IT!” every second I spent on this cake was very much worth it. Mission accomplished.
That’s it, that’s all. I hope you have a fun day filled with Dora-inspired adventures.