Introduction: Mr and Mrs Potato Head Cupcakes and Cake Made From Chocolate Potato Cake
I love baking and getting creative in the kitchen. It's accessible, there are limitless things you can make and it's fairly easy to impress your friends and family.
My creative juices started to flow when Instructables recently posted their 'potato speed challenge'. I thought it would be great to make a Mr Potato Head themed cake. But not only did I want it to have the external appearance of Mr Potato Head, but also have the magic ingredient (potato) inside!
I wanted to try two different options - a cake and some cupcakes. The idea behind the cupcakes is that each cupcake has a topping equivalent to a part of Mr or Mrs Potato Head. So you can move them around on a platter (or encourage your kids or kidults to play with their food!). The beauty is that the shape of the cake is the same for either character and you can decorate the cake and cupcakes however you like.
The cake is made with mashed potato, which kind of sounds like a weird ingredient. However some of the reviews when the family was tasting it were:
- "Mmm it's delicious"
- "You couldn't even tell there is potato in here" and, although I'm not a fan of the word...
- "Yum! It's so MOIST!"
So there you have it - a cake/cupcakes that are fun to decorate and look at, and a cake that tastes great too!
Let's jump in!
This recipe makes a cake and 12 cupcakes. You could do 2 cakes (one Mr and one Mrs Potato Head) or 24 cupcakes if you prefer.
Ingredients for the Mashed Potato:
- 2-3 potatoes
Ingredients for the Cake:
- 250g butter, softened (1 cup)
- 2 cups caster sugar (superfine/bakers sugar)
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 cup of the mashed potato
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups plain flour (all purpose flour)
- 1/2 cup of baking cocoa
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1 cup full cream milk (whole milk)
Ingredients for the Icing/Toppings:
- 250g butter, softened (1 cup)
- 450g icing sugar (3 cups powdered/confectioners sugar)
- 2 tablespoons of baking cocoa
- Blue, pink and green food dyes*
- 1/4 cup full cream milk (whole milk)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Lollies for decoration (I used licorice, marshmallows, M&Ms and snakes)
* If you're making Mrs Potato Head you will want to substitute blue and green for yellow and red
You'll also need:
- A mixer with bowl and beater attachment
- Measuring cup
- Butter Knife
- 3 x small glass bowls
- Tray or Board to place the cake on (cover in foil if you like)
- Muffin/Cupcake Tray
- Patty Cases
- ~25cm (10in) Cake Tin
- Serrated Knife
- Chopping Board
- Potato Masher
- Baking Paper
Step 1: Prepare Your Potatoes and Boil Them
The first thing we need to do is prepare the star ingredient! Grab your two or three potatoes (I went for three because it's better to have a little left over, than not enough for the recipe) and peel them.
Chop them into small pieces (about 2-3 cms / 1 inch).
Place them in a saucepan, cover with enough water and pop them on the stove.
Let them boil for about 20-30 minutes, until they are soft enough to poke a fork through very easily and they would just break up.
Step 2: Finish Off Your Mash
Once your potatoes are done, drain the water from the saucepan and then grab your potato masher and mash the potatoes. Don't add any milk or butter like you normally would - we just want plain mashed potatoes for the recipe.
Set it aside to cool - it needs to be cold for the recipe.
Step 3: Plan Your Idea
While you're waiting for your mash to cool, it's a great time to sit down and plan out how your cake and/or cupcakes will look.
Mr and Mrs Potato Head have had different versions over the years (and also have different accessories) so use your imagination or try to remember the parts on your favourite version. I know that my Mr Potato Head had a green hat that I wanted to use, but I turned to the internet for some more inspiration.
I used my pen and paper to trace the shape of the cake tin on some paper and then sketched out the parts I'd need. The main part was the potato shape (obviously!), but I also needed feet, the hat and ears. I changed the shape of the ears a little to fit in with the cake I had available. The hat is in two symmetrical pieces that should be joined together. I also skipped the arms entirely, as they are thin and would be quite difficult to make out of cake, and I couldn't think of any white, long, stringy shaped lollies that I could use.
I also drew 12 circles on a sheet of paper and planned out the accessory that would appear on each cupcake. That way I could work out if I had enough pieces to make a face. You might like to just do one version of Mr or Mrs Potato Head and do more accessories - glasses, bags, hats, shoes - the choice is yours!
I decided to draw the template for the cake using the full size of the cake tin, as I could then sit the template over the finished cake to assist me in cutting up all the pieces.
Once you've planned out how your cake/cupcakes will look and your mash is cold, you're ready to start!
Step 4: Prepare Your Tins
For the cupcakes, preparing the tin was super easy - get your patty pans, and add one to each hole in the tin.
The cake tin takes a little more time. I traced the outline of the tin onto some baking paper and then used scissors to cut it out. I placed the circle on the base of the tin. Then I tore off sections off baking paper that were big enough to sit on the sides of the tin (using scissors to neaten the bottom edge if necessary).
In all it took three rectangular pieces to cover the sides of the tin and I held these in place with a small scraping of butter on the tin.
Step 5: Gather Your Ingredients for the Batter
We'll start off with making the actual cake.
Measure out 1 cup of the cold mashed potato and gather the rest of the ingredients for the cake.
Preheat your oven to 180 Celsius / 350 Fahrenheit.
Step 6: Cream Your Butter and Sugar
Place your softened butter into mixer bowl and attach your beater. Beat on a Medium/High setting until the butter turns lighter and has a more fluffy appearance.
Then turn the mixer to a Medium speed and add the caster sugar tablespoon by tablespoon, allowing it to mix into the butter as you go.
Once all of the sugar has been added, beat on Medium/High for another minute or so to ensure it's all combined.
Step 7: Add the Eggs
Add one egg and mix on Medium/High until combined.
Then add the other egg and again mix on Medium/High until combined.
Step 8: Add Mashed Potato and Vanilla Extract
Add in the mashed potato and mix it in. Then add in the teaspoon of vanilla extract. Beat again on Medium/High until all combined.
Step 9: Combine Flour, Cocoa and Baking Soda and Mix
In a separate bowl, add the flour, cocoa and baking soda.
Mix it up with a spoon until well combined.
Then with the mixer on a low setting, start adding the flour mixture to the bowl, tablespoon by tablespoon. Allow the mixer to mix the flour into the butter mixture. Continue until all the flour has been added.
Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure all of the flour is mixed in.
Set the mixer to a low speed and gradually add the milk to the mixture. Once it's combined, beat on Medium/High to ensure the batter is well mixed.
Step 10: Fill 'er Up
Add the batter to the tins. This will depend what you are making. For the cupcakes, use a tablespoon to fill each case about 3/4 full (they will rise a little to fill the rest of the case).
I did the cupcakes first and then used all the remaining batter to fill my cake tin.
If you're doing two cakes, then divide the batter evenly between the two tins.
Make sure you press the batter into the sides of your cake tin and smooth down the batter to ensure you get the most even cake you can.
Pop the cakes in the oven (180 C / 350 F). The length of time will be slightly shorter for the cupcakes as these cook quicker.
My cupcakes were in the oven for 25 minutes (check them after 20 minutes and adjust your timer if necessary).
The cake took 35 minutes (check after 25 minutes).
Step 11: The Cake's Done!
Test the cupcakes and cake with a skewer. If the skewer comes out clean then it's done.
Take them out of the oven and let them cool for a few minutes in the tin.
Then turn them out onto cooling racks until they are completely cool.
Don't rush this step - if the cake is still warm when you try and cut it, there's a chance that the pieces you cut will fall apart. You also can't ice the cake if it's warm, as the icing will just melt!
Step 12: Prepare Your Board/Tray
I found a large Tupperware lid that I covered in foil for the cake to sit on. It wasn't the best idea, as the plastic is still fairly flimsy but if you hold it properly it works just fine. I would recommend something a little more solid though. You can even dress up some wood or thick cardboard with some foil. Just make sure that it will be solid enough to hold the weight of the cake.
Place your cool cake on a chopping board or plate, get your serrated knife and your template and you're ready to begin.
Step 13: Slicing and Dicing
Now comes the part where you use the template you prepared to create the outline of your cake.
Put the template over your cake and make a small cut on the edges that you need to. Then make a small cut about half way through the cake (depth wise) along the line you need to cut. Continue to compare your cut with the template and once you're happy with the cut, then go back to the start and cut all the way through to the chopping board/plate.
By cutting halfway first, if you make a mistake, no one will notice as you can re-cut the cake and cover your original cut with icing. I found for the symmetrical parts, that if I cut one piece, I would then use it as a template on the other side of the cake, that way it would ensure I got two pieces that were relatively the same size.
There will be a small amount of offcuts that you can use as 'filler' if you need to. I found that one of the ears I made was not the same shape as the other, so had to use filler for that. Also, one side of his hat was a little smaller and so I used some filler to lift up the smaller side of the hat.
Once you've got your feet, ears and hat, then shape the rest of the cake into a potato shape.
Then assemble all the pieces on the tray as pictured.
Step 14: Gather Your Ingredients for the Icing
I decided to make a buttercream icing. I decided to try a new recipe which included a bit more milk than I usually use. The benefit was that it was a lot easier to apply to the cake, as it was a little more 'wet'. But the downside was that the finished cake definitely had to spend some time in the fridge to 'set' and didn't last as long when it was out on the day of serving.
It's really up to you what sort of buttercream recipe you use - so if you have a preferred version, feel free to use it!
Make sure you have a few glass bowls/containers ready to go too. This will help when you need to colour your icing. Glass bowls are my preference as the food dye won't stain glass (whereas it could stain your plastic).
Make sure your mixing bowl is cleaned and dry. Gather your ingredients and let's begin the icing.
Step 15: Make the Basic Icing
Chop up the softened butter and add it to your bowl. Use your beater attachment and start mixing, increasing to a Medium/High speed. Beat the butter until it's pale in colour and has a fluffy appearance.
Reduce the speed on the mixer and add the icing sugar tablespoon by tablespoon. You may need to use your spatula to clean the sides of the bowl and ensure the icing sugar is completely mixed in with the butter.
Gradually add your milk to the mixture and the 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.
Beat the mixture on high until well combined and it has a good icing consistency.
By this time you will have decided on the colours you are using and where they will be applied to the cake. I had decided to use the plain cream coloured icing for one of my cupcakes (Mrs Potato Head's hat), so I iced that cupcake.
Then I knew I needed pink for the ears, blue for the shoes and pants and green for the hat. The remaining icing for the potato shape and all the cupcakes would be a chocolate icing.
Step 16: Colouring and Applying the Icing
I started with the ears. I moved 2 heaped tablespoons of the basic icing to a glass bowl and added 4 drops of pink food colouring. I mixed the colouring into the icing and then applied the icing to the ears. (I also applied a bit on the side of the ear (like I would apply glue) to allow me to stick the ear to the head).
Then I did the hat. Again I estimated 2 heaped tablespoons of basic icing. I added this to another glass bowl with 4 drops of green food colouring and mixed it up. Using a butter knife, I applied the icing all over the 'hat'.
The feet and pants require a bit more icing, so I measured 3 heaped tablespoons of basic icing into a third bowl and used 6 drops of blue food dye to get the desired colour. Again applying the icing to the feet and the base of the main potato shape.
Once I had all of the coloured icing done and I was happy with the coverage, I added 2 tablespoons of cocoa to the basic icing mix and beat it well until it was combined. I then iced the remaining cupcakes and then finished with icing the potato shape.
I think it's best to mix each colour one by one and apply as you go. That way, if you run out of icing, you can mix up some more and you're not stuck trying to turn a chocolate coloured icing back to pink.
Step 17: Prepare Your Decorations/Lollies
Time to get creative! Open up your packets of lollies and start creating all the 'parts' of Mr and/or Mrs Potato Head! All you'll really need is a knife, the lollies and your imagination.
For the main cake, to do the face, I used:
- A white marshmallow cut in half for the eyes, then place a brown M&M on each side for the pupils
- A pink marshmallow for the nose
- Pieces of licorice for the mustache and eyebrows
- Cut up pieces of marshmallow for the teeth
- Red snakes for the lips
- A Green snake for the hat
On the cupcakes I did:
- White marshmallows and brown M&Ms for the eyes again, cutting small pieces of licorice for eyebrows and eyelashes
- Pink marshmallows for ears (using a knife to cut some marks to give an ear like appearance)
- On Mrs Potato Head I also added yellow M&Ms for earrings
- Pink marshmallows for the nose
- Red Snakes for the lips
- Red M&M's for the nose
- Licorice for the mustache and white marshmallow (with cuts for the teeth) for the mouth
- M&Ms and snakes for the hats
I would love to see your creations, so if you do make these, please post your pictures in the comments below.
Step 18: Play With Your Food!
Once you've finished the cupcakes, move them around and make all sorts of 'looks' with the parts and accessories you made. You can see Mr and Mrs Potato Head in the first two pictures. Or you can give Mr Potato Head an earring. Or Mrs Potato Head two hats. How about 4 eyes?
Step 19: Share Your Delicious Cakes With Friends!
Enjoy all the compliments from your friends and family as you share in the fruits of your labour. As I mentioned, I can't wait to see what you've made in the comments below. Let me know how the cake tastes or if you can think of improvements.
And if you like this idea vote for it in the Potato Speed Challenge :)
Participated in the
Potato Speed Challenge