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Great Indoors: An easy Beauty and the Beast cake fit for a princess

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Easy Beauty and the Beast Cake can be made in just a couple of hours by any amateur home baker. Alexandra Floersch / The Forum2 / 2

FARGO — Like millions of other American families with daughters, we live in a household full of Disney princesses. Even though my daughters are both teenagers now, that doesn't mean we chucked our DP goods in the garbage. Call it sentimentality (or laziness), but our house still has its share of Disney princess Barbie dolls, coloring books, pillows, blankets and Halloween costumes.

(Confession: I even got into the act one year when my girls were super little. My elder daughter dressed like Sleeping Beauty, the younger one was Cinderella and I was Belle. I tried to convince my husband to dress as a Prince — even the cool Purple Rain one — but he's an introverted Scandinavian Lutheran so that was a non-starter.)

So you can imagine my delight when one of my favorite baking personalities, Elise Strachan of My Cupcake Addiction posted a recipe for an absolutely adorable Beauty and the Beast cake — two layers of cake the color of Belle's dress, topped with the famous wilting rose under glass. Super cute.

While all the princesses are a pretty big deal, Belle has been taking the spotlight lately with the hit live-action movie that debuted this spring and — closer to home — the Trollwood Performing Arts school putting on its own production this month. I knew I needed to make this cake.

Strachan says her version is for the "beginning baker," and I'll admit it's not super-complicated because it doesn't require fondant work or special piping tips. But because I am lazy (see above), I've chosen to make it even more simple — sort of a "Beauty and the Beast Cake for Dummies" version. (See the video where I show you how.)

I used cake mix instead of cake from scratch, and my recipe doesn't require inserting a test tube into the cake to serve as a vase for the live rose. I used an artificial rose I bought at Walmart for 97 cents. (Score.) The cake just took a couple of hours to make and I think is very doable for moms or dads who want to host a party for their little Disney prince or princess.

Just let me know if you want to borrow my Belle dress.

Easy Beauty and the Beast Cake

2 cake mixes of your choice (I used Pillsbury Dark Chocolate)

4 tubs of frosting of your choice (I used Pillsbury Cream Cheese Frosting)

Yellow food coloring

(Items needed for cake mix: Oil, eggs, water)

1 cup chocolate chips

2 tablespoons heavy cream

2 (8-inch) cake pans

2 (6-inch) cakes (if you can't find 6-inch pans, buy two additional 8-inch pans)

4 bamboo skewers or straws

2 artificial roses

1 small glass case or cloche to enclose the rose

Prepare cake mixes as directed on back of packages. Spray non-stick spray on bottom of cake pans and pour batter into pans to make four even layers. Bake according to package directions; let cool. Cut off tops of all cakes until level. If you had use 8-inch pans instead of 6-inch pans, cut about 2 inches off the outside of two of the cakes, so you're left with two 6-inch cakes and two 8-inch cakes.

Prepare a chocolate ganache by melting one cup of chocolate chips and 2 to 3 tablespoons of heavy cream in a bowl in the microwave. Be careful not to burn it. Stir until smooth.

Spread the ganache on one 6-inch cake and one 8-inch cake. Then top each cake with the other cake of its size.

Put in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to let ganache harden. While cakes are in the refrigerator, prepare the frosting by placing in a large bowl and adding yellow food coloring until frosting is the color of Belle's dress.

Remove cakes from refrigerator and apply a light layer of frosting on the 6-inch layer cake and the 8-inch layer cake. (This is your crumb coat so it won't look great, but it will lock in all the crumbs so it won't get on your final frosting layer.)

Put it in the freezer for another 15 minutes. Take cakes out of freezer and add the final layer of frosting. You can either make it super smooth, or add some texture to make it look more like Belle's dress. Carefully place frosted 8-inch cake on cake platter. Put four skewers (or straws) into center of cake where the top layer will be. Cut down skewers or straws so they are only slightly above the cake. Place 6-inch cake on top of 8-inch cake. Pipe dollops of frosting between two layers and at base of cake.

Place rose into top of cake in the center. Top with cloche. Tear petals off the second rose and scatter on the plate to represent the wilting rose.

Serves 40.

Recipe altered from Elise Strachan, My Cupcake Addiction

Tracy Briggs

Tracy Briggs is a former TV anchor/radio host currently working as a features writer and video host for Forum Communications.

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