Thursday, February 10, 2011


For my birthday last year. I originally requested a baby elephant cake, but the design time required was not feasible. So we turned to Totoro (video clip), whose cuteness quotient is very nearly as high, but whose shape and features are much simpler.


We used a single white cake recipe from the 1997 Joy of Cooking with approximately 3 T of macha (green tea powder) added. The macha lends a delicate green taste and tint to the cake. It didn’t mix in evenly, though – next time I would sift it with the flour.

We baked the batter in one 9"x13" pan and two round ramekins, one 3.5" in diameter and the other 4.5". Not surprisingly, the cake in the ramekins baked faster than that in the large pan.


We made a tasty and user-friendly whipped cream frosting--the recipe is at the end of the post. We left the Chibi Totoro white and colored the big Totoro with macha and carob.


Cutting the Totoro shape from a 9" x 13" rectangle is very simple – the arms come from next to the head and the ears from next to the feet.

To keep your frosting neat, score the cake deeply enough around the belly that you can erect a wax paper fence between the two colors. Remove the fence when you’re all done frosting.

  • Eyes – half marshmallows with small carob chips for pupils
  • Nose – Brazil nut
  • Mouth – miniature chocolate chip
  • Whiskers – Men’s Pocky (I am not responsible for the name – they are dark chocolate Pocky – very, um, manly)
  • Chest chevrons – cashews
  • Claws – dried cantaloupe

Chibi Assembly

The head is the cake from the smaller ramekin, and the body is from the larger, with two segments cut out for ears. (Sorry about the focus – Matt was working quickly and I had to grab pictures where I could.)

The dark green splot on the head is one of the places where the macha clumped in the batter.

The eyes are two halves of a licorice all-sort, with tiny bits of licorice for pupils.

Soot Sprite Assembly

We thought hard about how to make the soot sprites and, while we had a number of ideas, none of them were very good. Then I saw chocolate macaroons at the store, and it was remarkable how easily I overcame my qualms about not making the sprites from scratch. We finished the macaroons with purchased sugar googly eyes stuck on with honey.

Additional Possibilities

Our ambition did not reach as far as the Catbus. If yours does, check out Wisdom of the Moon for a rice crispy treat version (and an interesting, 3-D take on Totoro).

Whipped Cream Frosting Recipe

Amounts of sugar, carob and macha are approximate. The gelatin is added to stabilize the frosting so it will keep longer - it can be omitted if the cake will be eaten the same day you make the frosting.

Gelatin Mixture
1 1/2 tsp gelatin
Add cold water to make 2 1/2 Tbsp and let soften 5 minutes.
Heat gelatin mixture slowly until it melts. Let cool to room temperature. If gelatin starts to set between batches of frosting, re-heat as needed.

In a chilled bowl with chilled beaters, whip 3/8 cup heavy whipping cream.
Drizzle 1 1/2 tsp of gelatin mixture in with beaters running as cream starts to thicken.
Add 1 Tbsp sugar.

Light Green
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tsp gelatin mixture
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp carob powder
1 Tbsp macha

Dark Green
1 1/8 cup whipping cream
remaining gelatin mixture
3 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp carob powder
2 Tbsp + 1 tsp macha

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mrs. Cebulski's Druid Sacrifice

Guest writer Matt here again.

A friend requested a carrot cake for his birthday. Since the Mosaic Turbo Cebulski was so good, I used it as the basis for this cake. Then I put Stonehenge on it. The real mystery, as one of the party guests said, was where the Druids got the 40-ton blocks of dried papaya.

The recipe is reproduced below. The only differences between it and the Mosaic Turbo C. are:
- I pre-cooked the grated ginger in some of the oil. This is a highly recommended step which gives the ginger a pleasing mellow warmth.
- I added a little lemon juice to the cream cheese icing. This improves the harmony between the flavors of the icing and cake.
- I rearranged and rewrote some of the steps in the recipe for clarity.

Mrs. Cebulski's Druid Sacrifice
    a minor improvement of Mosaic Turbo Cebulski
        a riff on Mrs. Cebulski's Famous Carrot Cake

Heat in small saucepan over medium low heat:
    1/2 cup oil
    1 1/4 - 1 1/2 ounces finely grated ginger root
Stir occasionally while assembling other ingredients. Remove from heat if ginger starts to brown.
Preheat oven to 350 F.

Grease two 9" round cake pans, line their bottoms with waxed paper, and grease the waxed paper.

Sift together in medium bowl:
    2 cups flour    1 tsp baking soda    1 tsp salt    2 tsp cinnamon    1/4 - 3/8 tsp black pepper

Add to bowl #2 and set aside:
    3 cups grated carrots    1 cup chopped walnuts

Mix in bowl #3 (a large bowl):
    2 cups sugar    1 cup oil

Stir hot oil and grated ginger into bowl #3.
Add to bowl #3:
    4 eggs
Cream together until fluffy (about 5 minutes with electric mixer).

Add contents of bowl #2 to bowl #3 and stir to combine.
Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Immediately pour batter into prepared cake pans and put in oven.
Bake 40 minutes (use convection oven or turn half way through).
Cake is done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool 10-15 minutes in pans on wire rack.

Turn cakes out onto wire rack and cool to room temperature.


Beat together:
    1 pound box of confectioner's sugar    8 oz. cream cheese    4 Tbsp butter    1 tsp vanilla    1 tsp lemon juice
10-2016 Note:  Nancy's cream cheese (local alternative to P-delphia) doesn't have all the guar gum and other stuff that's in P-delph.  As a result, frosting made with Nancy's has a slightly better flavor and mouthfeel (the difference is subtle), but is less able to hold its shape.  The Nancy frosting should be chilled before use, and may sag a little on the sides of the cake.  No one will think there's anything wrong with the P-d frosting.

Filling (updated 10-16-2016 to comport with Octo-Cebulski)

Combine in small saucepan:
1 1/2 cups raisins (packed) -- about 12 oz.
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp lemon juice
3 T water
Cover and boil 1-2 minutes.
Transfer to small food processor or blender and puree in pulses, stopping as necessary to punch down.


candied ginger, sliced thin
dried papaya, golden raisins, and unsulphured candied ginger (for henge)

Spread filling between cooled cake layers. Frost. Decorate.

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