A Moana Birthday Cake

My daughter just had a birthday, and she wanted a Moana cake. Now, I try to let my kids have a big hand in making decisions like this, but since she didn’t really know what she wanted it to look like, I got to have free rein. And yes, I had fun with it!

While I did most of the decorating while my daughter was at school, she did help me shape some of the fondant the day before. She also helped me try to make edible glitter — and let me just say, we had an epic Pinterest fail on that one. But we still had custom colored sugar at the end, so we just used that. Let me tell you, I’m glad for that fail! I think the sand turned out much better than what I’d planned. It’s one of my favorite things about the cake.

I love the water, too. It was so fun to make those waves! I colored the frosting, but after I spread a super-thick layer on the cake, I put drops of a darker blue food color gel randomly on top. Then, with a skewer, I swirled it in and made the waves.

The very hardest part of this cake would be the palm trees. My own fault, I admit. I didn’t plan far enough ahead, so the fondant leaves didn’t have enough time to dry all the way through. So the palm leaves are shorter than they started out. And “gluing” them together? I wasn’t quite sure the best way to do that, as my normal way (using a tiny amount of water to dissolve the sugar and get the pieces to stick together) didn’t seem like it would be strong enough. I ended up using a fondant glue — mixing marshmallow fondant with a bit of water and melting it. It did a great job, and will be my go-to glue from here out. At first I wasn’t sure how I would get the trees to not fall over. I ended up forming the trunks around bendy straws (because I wanted a little bit of a bend in my trees!), leaving some straw at the base uncovered. After the trunks dried and I attached the leaves, I cut skewers to length and stuck them in the cake where I wanted the trees. Then, I slid the straws over the skewers, pushing the trees down far enough that the uncovered straw went into the cake. They were sturdier even than I’d hoped!

The cake isn’t perfect, but then, perfection wasn’t the goal — a happy birthday girl was. Mission accomplished.