Laura likes retro, vintage, old things. Choosing to preserve or repurpose is her dilemma - can't change your mind once started.
I never thought about not liking the doll in a cake. I asked my Mom to make one when I was a kid but it didn't happen. She made cakes from scratch and we would usually wrap up coins and buttons and cook them in the batter as a birthday game. But we never did do the doll in a cake. I think she just didn't want to take on the challenge of decorating with icing. It wasn't our strong point.
The first time I ever saw a doll in a cake was for another girl's birthday. Later I saw one as an ice cream cake. The best one was in a magazine, not a home-made or store bought cake. Magazines always have the fanciest, elegant cakes. At the time I just thought people working at the magazines (or TV cooking shows) were just far more skilled than anyone else. Now, I realize they have the time to arrange and fix everything, down to the smallest detail.
I like the idea of the doll cake partly because I see so many discarded dolls in the thrift stores. Last time I was looking in the secondhand toys the big basket for Barbie-sized dolls was over flowing. But, you don't have to buy a real, full doll to make the doll cake. Some baking supply stores will have the short cut doll. Just a doll topper with a spike to stick in the top of your cake.
Don't think you can only make a pretty doll cake. Think ugly doll, think Halloween, think vintage costumes, think seasonal and cartoon character. You can add any type of doll to the cake, no need to stick to girl dolls or shapely Barbie-type dolls either. Play with the general idea and come up with your own unique version.
Great Doll Cakes
Doll in a Cake Recipes and Ideas
Making the Doll Cake
Recycle dolls from thrift stores or use something cheap from a dollar store. You can even spend the money and buy a new doll and give it as a present if you are making the doll cake for a child or someone who loves dolls.
First, any second hand doll needs to be well washed. You should be able to use your kitchen sink, add good soapy water and bleach. Let her soak a while, but not so long she gets water logged. Her hair may not handle being wet well so keep an eye on that.
Second, a doll from the thrift store may have a really bad hair day. Try brushing it out when it's wet. Be very careful because hair may pull out when it is really tangled. You don't want to end up with a bald doll. When the hair is dry (give it overnight to be very sure it is dry) tuck it up in a ponytail or roll it up in a bun. If the hair looks good after the wash and brush you might leave it down. But, I find doll hair is usually frizzy and tends to be hard to deal with (or maybe I'm just too impatient).
The top layer of your cake will need to be carved to give it the dome or bell look for the doll's skirt. If your doll is too short give her an Empire waist gown. If the doll is too tall (but not so tall she is toppling over) give her gown a drop waist. Look at other doll cake ideas to see how they handle the cake design as far as creating the skirt. Some have unique ways to create the shape, beyond carving the top cake layer.
Before you put the doll in the cake you will wrap her up in plastic so she is not actually touching the cake. This is important because some people are very much put off from eating the cake if the doll has actually touched it. They probably assume the doll is just stuck in the cake.
You will also cut a whole through the layers of your cake (or use a Bundt cake pan) to slip the doll through easily, without cracking or other wise mangling you cake up. Once the doll is inside the cake begin to decorate her bodice and of course, her big wide skirt.
As an added touch, give the doll a crown, a fascinator or some kind of head wear. She could have a necklace or bracelet too if you have something small enough to add extra decoration to her.
How to Make a Princess Doll Cake and Cupcakes
Laura Brown (author) from Barrie, Ontario, Canada on August 15, 2012:
@TamCor - We must be about the same age then. :)
Tammy Cornett from Ohio on August 15, 2012:
Wow, I'd forgotten about this type of cake! I have a photo of me somewhere holding a doll cake that my mom had made me for my birthday, about 40 years ago now, lol. That's one cake I've never tried to decorate, but they certainly are beautiful. Great job on this hub! :)
Laura Brown (author) from Barrie, Ontario, Canada on August 09, 2012:
Thank you both for your comments. I'm still looking for more ways to use those dolls in the bin at the thrift store. There are so many of them, mostly nude, the poor girls. Long ago I would sew little doll clothes by hand. I thought about doing that and then giving the dolls away, dressed again. But, kids have so much stuff, there really isn't a real need for more dolls. That's how they end up being given away in the first place.
Reynold Jay from Saginaw, Michigan on August 09, 2012:
Very nicely done and I know this takes a lot of skill! I operated Confectionery World for two decades ( a string of retail stores) and worked with people who did cake decorating every day. You did a lot of work to get this together and I can appreciate that. This article sets it up for anyone who wants to take the plunge. Well done.
Laura Brown (author) from Barrie, Ontario, Canada on August 06, 2012:
Thank you. I haven't done it too many times. The decorating is where I'm not so good. Most likely a lack of patience, taking my time to fuss over the details.
Sid Kemp from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach) on August 06, 2012:
I've never heard of dolls in cakes before, but what a beautiful idea. And your instructions make it easy!