I basically love anything that is Studio Ghlibli related. Over the summer, I got the chance to visit a Studio Ghlibli exhibit! And let’s just say after visiting the exhibit my love for Miyazaki’s work has just doubled maybe even tripled in size…
So this cake is inspired by the TOTORO!
Who doesn’t love that giant furry thing?!
I also wanted the cake to reflect the current fall season. Fall reminds me of two things: apple picking and pumpkins. I didn’t have any pumpkins on hand, but I did have a lot of apples so I made *drumroll* Apple Cinnamon Cake!
This is one of my all time favorite recipes. The whole kitchen smells like warm cinnamon goodness when the cake is in the oven! The best part is the addition of apple chunks. (The addition of fruit technically makes this a healthy dish.)
My favorite way to eat this apple cake is when it’s still warm with the addition of a healthy scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Because I’m decorating the cake with fondant, I sadly had to exclude the ice cream. But I covered the cake with a silky cinnamon buttercream. If you couldn’t tell by now, I really love cinnamon.
TO THE KITCHEN (or wherever else you bake)
Step 1: Ingredients and Materials
For the Cake
(made 6 inch cake and 18 cupcakes)
3-4 apples (I ended up using two one fuji apple and three red delicious ones)
2 cups of flour
1 cup of vegetable oil
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1.5 cups of white sugar
1.5 teaspoons of baking powder
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
For the Buttercream:
(amount for 6 inch cake)
1/2 cup butter softened
1 cup powder sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons milk (for consistency)
1/4 pound of red fondant
1/4 pound of brown fondant
1/3 white fondant
1/4 pound of black fondant
I used pre-made fondant.
You can get fondant at Michaels.
To make your own fondant:
1 pound of marshmallows
2 pounds of powdered sugar
1. Melt Marshmallows on HIGH in 30 second intervals in
2. Once marshmallows are melted slowly stir in powder sugar.
Be careful as the marshmallows are really hot!
3. Once powdered sugar and marshmallows are combined, the mixture will get very sticky.
4. A sticky ball should form. Knead the fondant until it is smooth and no longer sticky.
Dye fondant with GEL food coloring only! Liquid will ruin the fondant!
*I prefer buying the fondant outside, because making fondant can be messy! If you choose to make fondant, I suggest making large batches at a time and then storing it in an airtight container at room temp.
6 inch cake pan and 2 cupcake pans
Flat surface t
Step 2: Make the Cake
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Line cake pan with parchment paper.
1.Peel and dice apples into small chunks. Set aside apples while making cake batter.
2. In a large mixing bowl combine the two eggs and vegetable oil. Beat until the mixture is a creamy yellow color. Mix in vanilla extract.I used a stand mixer, but this recipe works with a handheld electric beater or just by hand. I’ve baked this cake using all of these ways before.
3. Once the mixture is a creamy yellow, add in the sugar. Beat together until the mixture is pale yellow in color.
4. In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
5. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Whisk together. Once combined repeat the same steps for the rest of the dry ingredients.
6. Add in 1/2 cup of milk to thin out batter.
7.Once mixture is well incorporated, use a spatula to fold in the apples.
8.Fill cake pan 3/4 with cake batter.
9. Bake the cake for 50-55 mins. at 350 degrees Fahrenheit or until a toothpick comes out clean.
10.***I used a 6 inch cake pan and the rest of the batter made 18 cupcakes***
Step 3: Fondant Time:Totoro
While the cake is in the oven, it's time to work on the fondant decorations for the cake!
To make Totoro:
**Tip** to prevent fondant from sticking to your hand. Grease hands with some crisco.
1.Take around a quarter coin size of white fondant and black fondant. Knead both pieces together until colors are well blended and the fondant is grey.
2. Roll fondant into a ball.
3. After rolling fondant into a ball,roll the fondant so it look more oval shaped.(look at the picture)
4. Once the fondant is oval shaped, take two fingers and pinch the top part of the oval. Gently pinch the top part so it becomes more narrow on top. (this will be Totoro's face)
5. To make Totoro's belly, roll a white fondant ball that's about pinky sized. Once you have the ball of white fondant, press the fondant onto the fatter part of Totoro's belly. Use your finger to press down and smooth out the white ball of fondant. The end result should be a half-circle looking shape.
6. Form two small balls of white fondant. (This should 1/4 of the fondant used for Totoro's belly)
7.Press the fondant down, but not too much so that the fondant doesn't spread and flatten. Form two smaller balls of black fondant. Press onto the white fondant eyes. (If the fondant does not stick, you can brush on a little water to the fondant. The water will act like glue) Once the black fondant is on, form two even smaller balls of white fondant. Press them onto the eyes. (*** THE EYES ARE THE HARDEST TO MAKE***)
8. Knead together more grey fondant. Form fondant into a very thing log shape. Cut out three tiny sections. Shape the grey section into an upside down "V" and using a little water stick the "Vs" onto Totoro's belly. Totoro's nose is just a tiny piece of black fondant (formed into an oval)
9. For Totoro's arms, roll out a small grey ball of fondant (a little bigger than fondant used for his belly). Roll the ball out so its cylindrical and tapered at one end. Do this step to make two arms. Once done, attach to the body by using water to help stick.
10. THE FINAL STEP!! Totoro's ears are easy to make. Just form two balls of small grey balls and roll them out do they are more thin and tapered at one end. Pinch the tapered end to forma sharper tip of the ear. Brush water onto the wider end of the ears and stick them onto his head. Hold the ears in place for five mins to ensure that the ears do not fall off.
Step 4: Fondant Time: Soot Sprites
These adorable soot sprites were so much fun to make and they add the cutest touch to the cake.
1. I made five soot sprites, but you can make as many as you like. Form a small ball (dime sized) with the black fondant. The soot sprites don't have to be perfectly round. Some of mine were more oval and you can also make them all different sizes.
2. Form two small ball (half of a dime size) of white fondant. Press them onto the soot sprite-when pressing try to make it so that the eyes are oval-ish not circles. Take two smaller pieces of black fondant (half of what you used for the white fondant) Press them onto the white parts. If the fondant has a hard time sticking just apply a bit of water.
***I've found that letting the soot sprite body harden a bit before applying the eyes prevents the body from being squashed too much***
Step 5: Fondant Time: Apples and Leaves
We've arrived to the easiest part of the fondant decor: the apples and leaves!
Apples: Take a dime sized amount of red fondant. Roll it into a ball. Use a round end of a pen (I used my fondant tools) to make a small dent in the middle of the apple. Take a small piece of brown fondant and roll it into a small stem (about 1 inch in length.) Wait for the fondant stem to harden a little before putting it on the apple.
Leaves: Depending on how many leaves you want to make, adjust the amount of fondant you use. First roll the red fondant into a ball. Using a rolling pin, roll the red fondant out to about 1/2" inch thick. Using the shaped cookie cutter, press out as many leaves as you want. Do the same for the brown leaves. You can also try yellow leaves or orange ones.
At this point, the cake should be done and cooling.
Step 6: Buttercream
While the cake is cooling, prepare the buttercream.
(Recipe makes enough buttercream to cover a 6 inch cake and frost an extra 5 cupcakes.
1. Cut the 1/2 pound of softened butter into small cubes.
2. Beat the butter until fluffy.
3. Add in 1/2 cup of powdered sugar. Beat until combined. Add in other 1/2 of powdered sugar.
4. Add in vanilla extract and 1-2 tablespoons of milk until buttercream is at the texture you want it at.
5. OPTIONAL You can sprinkle in some cinnamon for some extra flavor
Step 7: Cover the Cake
1. Trim the top off the cake.
2. Put a big dollop of the buttercream on top of the cake. Using a flat spatula or knife turn the cake to frost it.
3. Once the cake is completely frost, let it set in the fridge for one hour to overnight before covering with fondant.
4. Roll out a large piece of white fondant until it's 1/2" inch thick.
4. Carefully lift fondant and place it on top of the cake. Smooth out any bumps with your hands or a flat board.
Step 8: Decorate and Enjoy the Cake!
Last Step is to place your fondant decorations on the cake!
It's up to you how you want to place the leaves, apples, Totoro and the soot sprites!
I ended up placing an apple in Totoro's hand/ paw and having the soot sprites crawling down the cake.
If brush on a bit of water onto the fondant pieces. This will help it adhere to the white fondant.
Once you are done, step back and admire your hard work! Don't forget to eat a slice. It's the ultimate fall cake!