Chocolate Doll Cake with Leopard Print Fondant
There is something utterly magical about a doll cake. This gorgeous lady is made from moist chocolate sponge, covered with a traditional homemade cake fondant. To bring her a little added sass, I gave her dress a leopard print pattern. I’ll confess, it was a challenge, but I am proud of how my chocolate doll cake turned out.
This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Why Make a Doll Cake?
I knew from the moment I saw a classic princess doll cake at a birthday party, I needed to have a go at making my own. They make the perfect birthday cake and can be made to look like the birthday girl, a princess or simply just a fashion icon. Every cake is unique and you can have great fun with your design. There are loads of fantastic examples of doll cakes on Instagram, so get some inspiration from #dollcake.
How Long Does it Take to Make a Doll Cake?
Making a doll cake does take a little time and patience. I used a very simple chocolate sponge recipe to cut down on the baking labor, but decorating with fondant is time consuming because you need to add and chill a buttercream layer as well as making your fondant. There are a number of things you can do to cut down on time:
- Use a Wilton Wonder Mold Doll Cake Pan over carving stacked layers;
- Buy ready made fondant;
- Decorate with buttercream instead of fondant.
I chose to make my own fondant, something I have never done before. I used Gemma’s recipe from Bigger Bolder Baking and although it took a little time it was fun to make. The fondant feels really nice to knead, it’s very therapeutic! I did struggle to find glycerin in grocery store, but found it on Amazon and also on the shelves in Michael’s.
I also made my own buttercream, and went with a classic swiss meringue buttercream. I used this recipe from Joshua John Russell. Having to make sponge, buttercream, fondant and decorate is time consuming, but when there’s a birthday to celebrate it’s worth it!
Optional Equipment to Help Make a Doll Cake
I used the Wilton Wonder Mold Doll Cake Pan which is great for getting the perfect dress shape, although if you want to use a 12″ doll (eg Barbie) you’ll need an extra layer or two of cake on the bottom because her legs will be too long. Alternatively, the Wonder Mold Pan comes with a doll body on a skewer, ready to use. She’s not nearly as glamorous as Barbie though and personally I think it’s worth the extra work to make a larger cake.
The doll feature din my cake is Barbie Fashionista Doll 105. I wrapped her legs in plastic wrap before inserting in the cake and she came out good as new to play with afterwards.
A few other bits that really help with making the fondant are circular plunger fondant cutters and a fondant roller with guide rings. The little rings at either end make sure your fondant is rolled to an even thickness throughout… simple but genius.
Tips for Doll Cake Perfection
The chocolate sponge I made this cake from is very light, fluffy and moist. Many other recipes suggest using a pound cake sponge because it’s denser and can take the weight of the height of the cake and decoration better. Personally I love my sponge light so was willing to risk it and it worked out great. I would recommend chilling the cake completely before removing from the pan, even in the fridge for a little while if you can to firm up.
While on the subject of chilling… if you want a perfectly smooth base to lay your fondant on do not skip chilling your buttercream. Once it’s chilled and firm it’s really easy to smooth over, when warm it’ll just stick to your palette knife.
If you have big ambitions for ruffles, bows and extra decoration, make extra fondant. I made a little more than this fondant recipe calls for and I used all of it, none to spare.
Chocolate Doll Cake (For 12″ Doll)
- For the Sponge:
- 4 cups granulated sugar
- 3½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ cup cocoa powder
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 3 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 cup canola oil
- 2 cups milk
- 4 eggs
- 4 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups hot water
- For the buttercream:
- 8 egg whites
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 cups unsalted butter
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 2 tps vanilla extract
- For the fondant:
- 2 tsp unflavored gelatin (one 0.25oz packet)
- ¼ cup cold water
- ½ cup corn syrup
- 1 tbs glycerin
- 2 tbs shortening or butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 10 cups confectioners’ sugar
- black and brown food coloring
- Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a Wilton Wonder Doll Cake Pan and another two standard 9″ diameter sandwich cake pans.
- In a large bowl, mix the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Mix in the canola oil, milk, egg and vanilla extract until combined.
- Add the hot water and stir the mixture into a smooth, thin batter.
- Depending on the size of your oven you may need to bake in two batches. Half the mix in the cake doll pan, half split between the two 9″ pans.
- Bake the standard pans for about 20 minutes. A toothpick should come out clean.
- Bake the doll pan cake for 50-60mins.
- Allow your cakes to cool completely before removing from pans.
- For buttercream instructions follow this recipe from Joshua John Russell.
- Once chilled, carefully remove sponges from their pans. Spread a layer of buttercream on top of the standard pan layers, stack and place the Wonder Mold sponge on top. It may feel wobbly but will firm up with buttercream and fondant!
- Cover cake with buttercream and chill for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
- For fondant instructions follow this recipe from Bigger Bolder Baking.
- Add a very small about of brown coloring to the fondant to make a pale cream/beige.
- Break off two small balls (golf ball size) and color with black and brown for leopard print spots.
- Roll out the different colored fondants and use a plunger cutter to cut small black circles and extra-small brown circles. To make a leopard spot, break up the black circle with a knife and add the brown spot on top.
- Roll over the fondant again to push the leopard print into the cream colored fondant.
- Once chilled, smooth the firm buttercream with a palette knife to gain a smooth base for your fondant.
- Carefully lift the leopard print fondant on top of the cake and smooth down.
- I chose to dress my doll cake in three panels of fondant, one leopard print at the front, the other two panels added afterwards. How you decorate yours is up to you!
- Once the skirt of your dress is complete, cut a small but deep hole in the top for you doll’s legs. Scoop out the extra cake and insert your doll.
- Use the leftover fondant to make a dress bodice.
It was a lot of work but I think she looks fabulous, and the cake was delicious too. The most difficult part was creating the leopard print pattern against the clock, because fondant dries out quickly and will crack instead of folding into dress ruffles. Of course with leopard print you can’t just smoosh it up and start again, so the pressure is on to get it right first time!
Definitely have a practice on a small bit of fondant first, to see how the size of your spots turn out once rolled. If you have a go at making your own I would love to know how it goes!
Absolutely LOVE this cake recipe. I keep it simple and top with a brown butter/sugar glaze, but if I’m honest, you can eat it by itself because it’s so perfectly moist and just the right amount of sweetness!