A little while ago I made a Dolly Varden Cake for my nieces first birthday party. For those who don’t know, a Dolly Varden Cake is basically a large conical cake with a doll or barbie coming out of the top of the cake… the cake makes up the dolls large skirt. Every girl should have one of these cakes for at least one birthday and I’m sure it will bring back memories for many of you of baking from the women’s weekly children’s birthday cake book (published in the 1980’s and sold over half a million copies).

You can of course just use any tin you have that is of roughly conical shape such as a pudding bowl, but I got myself a proper Wilton’s Dolly Varden kit. It comes with the doll with a special point instead of legs to insert into the cake, a conical tin and base plate (so your cake doesn’t fall over in the oven) and a thin metal tube that goes through the middle of the cake and ensures that heat is distributed evenly so that the middle of your cake cooks property and isn’t left soggy. This also creates a hole in the top of the cake for your doll to sit in.

You can use just standard buttercream icing but I decided to ice the cake with Italian Meringue instead. Italian Meringue is basically just a meringue mixture where the egg whites are “cooked” from beating in hot sugar syrup and therefore does not need cooking in the oven. The result is a beautifully creamy light fluffy meringue type “icing” that can be piped and spread onto the cake. It is best used straight after being made and then allowed to set on the cake. I was busy that morning so let mine sit for a few hours before using so it set a bit in the bowl and meant my piping wasn’t as smooth as it could have been. See below for the Italian Meringue recipe.

Lovely glossy meringue icing. I added a little pink and yellow food colouring to make it a pastel rose pink colour.

A quick covering of the cake with meringue before piping roses onto the dolly’s skirt.

The finished product. I was in a bit of a rush so my piping was not as neat as it could have been but I think little Grace let me get away with this.

As per request, the cake I used for this was a Flourless Orange and Almond Cake. Grab the recipe here. Because the cake is butterless and flourless, it is a pretty healthy option for kids (although it does have sugar in it) as far as cakes go. But if you are making it for a kids party, make sure you tell parents it has nuts in it in case of any allergies.

Italian Meringue Recipe
200g caster sugar
200ml water
4 egg whites
pinch cream of tartar

Combine water and sugar in a saucepan and boil on the stove until the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat, do not stir the mixture any more and wipe down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming. Heat until the syrup reaches 115 degrees Celsius on a sugar thermometer (about 10-15 minutes).

Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar with electric beaters or a mixmaster until soft peaks form. Heat the sugar to 121 degrees Celsius. Increase the speed to high on your mixmaster and while beating, gradually add the sugar syrup in a slow stream. Continue to beat the meringue at a medium speed for about 15-20 minutes until the mixture has cooled and you have a thick glossy meringue.

Makes about 4 cups.

Note: this recipe serves 6 – I did 1 and 1/2 quantities of both the meringue and cake mixture for the dolly varden cake.



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