Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Hidden Mickeys on a Valentine's Cake

My friend Norma is an easy one to make a birthday cake for: she loves All Things Disney and she was born on Valentine's Day! Super easy to come up with a theme for, but how many concepts can anyone fit on a cake before it just becomes cluttered? I knew I wanted to represent her love of Disney (I just found out today she actually used to work alongside Walt himself!), but I didn't want to present too literal an interpretation of Mickey or any other overdone Disney iconography. Ever since learning of "Hidden Mickeys" I've been fascinated by the concept; Wikipedia describes them as "…a representation of Mickey Mouse that has been inserted subtly into the design of a ride, attraction, or other location in a Disney theme park or elsewhere on Disney properties…a formation of three circles that may be perceived as the silhouette of the head and ears of Mickey Mouse." The only perfectly circular flower I could think of was Wilton's "Ribbon Rose," which is introduced during Course 1: Decorating Basics. You can find the instructions to make it here. I changed nothing, except for the step that involves piping petals immediately after piping the base. I used royal icing, and allowed the bases to dry for about twenty minutes first (for reasons illustrated in my earlier post, The Wilton Rose: A Variation). I used the small round tip #8 and petal tip #101 for the small ribbon roses, and tips #12 and #104 for the larger roses. Here's the cake before I put anything on it, except for the vanilla buttercream frosting from Baking with the Cake Boss by Buddy Valastro
I used two 8" heart pans; one box of cake mix fit into them perfectly (if a bit deeply; they took a long time to bake). I made all the roses, drop flowers, and hearts ahead of time and stuck them all on with royal icing. 
I really wanted to pipe drop strings, but I don't want to get into a rut. I gave these hearts a try; there's just something so old school about them! You can find this design (and dozens more of this ilk) in the 1986 book, Wilton Uses of Decoration Tips (available as a reprint). This book provides a great tip: lightly make an imprint with a heart-shaped cookie cutter in the buttercream before piping. 
One final note: as I'm sure you're aware, an increasing number of public schools are no longer being required to teach cursive. Granted, the sentiment on this cake was the first time I'd had to think about writing in cursive in forever, but what would I have done otherwise; attempted to write in Helvetica? Schools should continue to teach cursive, if for no other reason than a cake decorator's bag of tricks would be a little lighter without it. The End. Happy Valentine's Day!


  1. The side hearts are really nice! I am amazed they stand upright!

  2. They do look sort of top-heavy, huh? I used Wilton Ready-To-Use Decorator Icing; it's really thick and does a great job of sticking to the buttercream beneath. Thanks for the comment!

  3. My boss (MM) would be so please to see this cake! :)