I set out to make an incredible Ratatouille “Feel Better” cake for a little boy at my apartment community, awaiting a heart transplant. A couple of his friends, had received their good news, but he was feeling a little bummed that he hadn’t gotten the same news. His mother and I began talking, and she explained that her son aspired to be a chef & his favorite movie was Ratatouille. I’m a hobby baker, so I volunteered to try to make him a cake to cheer him up!
The cake in my mind was going to be a pot on the stove cooking, with a tiny mouse on the top wearing a chef’s hat. I had planned to chop up veggies from fondant, and details on the cake to make it over the top. However, that didn’t end up happening!!
The day before the cake was due, I baked three 6” round, white Funfetti cakes from Pillsbury. (Since I work full time, I have to sometimes make my cakes from a box, but I always make my own homemade buttercream icing.)
Once I baked the cakes and let them cool, I grabbed my fondant containers and realized I was short on white fondant. I had black, and a tiny bit of red, and a very small amount of a couple other colors. At this time, I realized that I would have to stop and go to the store, plus come home and color fondant the rest of the night. This was a tiny cake, but was starting to feel like it was a climb to Mount Everest. Luckily, I came up with the idea to make just his head. I thought it would be cool to enlarge the mouse, and have it be the cake. I got a sheet of paper and began to sketch it out.
Since the cake only needed to serve 3 people, I decided to make the mouse head out of rice cereal treats. I poured the cereal out on a sheet of wax paper and while hot began shaping the head into a point and round like the head of a mouse. Once it was shaped, I placed it in the fridge to cool for about an hour.
While it was cooling, I stacked my three 6 inch cakes. I filled and crumb coated them and placed them in the fridge to chill. Once I got the rice cereal head out, I covered it with a light coat of buttercream, to fill in the holes and make it a little smoother. Then I took the 6-inch cake and stacked it on top of the mouse’s head. I put a dowel through it so the cake would not shift. I then covered the hat with white fondant. This was a nightmare on Elm Street!!
The fondant began folding, and the air was too dry causing it to tear when I tried to move it. So I just left it alone. I decided to go around the base of the hat and put pleats in it. I figured I’d improvise since most chef hats have pleats (but normally at the top) Then I cut a band and placed it at the bottom of the pleats. It covered the yucky mess at the bottom of the torn fondant. For the head, I just covered in buttercream. Then I dragged a spoon over the head to make a rat-like hair texture. Then I rolled out the eyes, and nose & ears of the rat. For the final touch… I added the floral wire as his whiskers.
Ratatouille Cake Reaction
The next day, I presented the cake to my friend’s son, and he loved it! He knew right away that it was Ratatouille! We took pictures and laughed at all hiccups. He appreciated it—he’s an aspiring chef and always has to improvise flavors if he’s out of something.
From my original detailed idea, to a last minute improvise… my Ratatouille Chef was born!