How to make a Princess Poppy cake with pull-apart cupcake hair

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Every time I get in to the car with my daughter the refrain from the back is the same: Trolls soundtrack please mummy. It’s on a loop! When it came time to write a list for her birthday Trolls, and especially Princess Poppy, featured heavily.

After making a Barbie Princess Cake for my daughter last year, I had my work cut out to come up with something this year. After much debate – castles, Frozen, mermaids, fairies – we had settled on a Trolls cake. But, how?

Of course, I consulted Pinterest and there are a lot of beautiful cakes, but none that jumped out at me.

There were a few reasons for this: I wanted to make Princess Poppy but my skills don’t extend to full-on sculpture with fondant, I wanted it to be quick and easy to serve at her birthday party, I wanted to use a mix of frosting and fondant.

After some brainstorming and sketching, this idea was born. A princess poppy cake with pull-apart cupcake hair… Then, I just had to make it! And now you can too, with step by step instructions…

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How to make a Princess Poppy cake with pull-apart cupcake hair: step by step tutorial to make a Trolls Princess Poppy Cake

To make this Princess Poppy cake you will need:

  • One 8 or 9 inch round cake, single layer [I use these Wilton tins and have them in a variety of sizes!]
  • 29 cupcakes (27 for the hair and 2 for her ears) [you can always use a smaller round cake, perhaps a 6 inch, and alter the number of cupcakes, based on the number of your guests. It’s handy to have two cupcake/muffin tins to make baking the cupcakes easier and faster!]
  • Fondant: pale pink, bright pink, black, white, blue and green [I used approximately 8oz of pale pink icing to cover the face and ears, then small amounts of each of the other colors for features/accessories. If you can’t find all the colors you need then you can use white fondant as a base, using food dye to color.]
  • Frosting [I used plain vanilla frosting to dirty-ice under the fondant and two tubs (32oz total) of ready-made bright pink frosting for her hair]
  • Large stiff cake board [I used an off-cut of wood, but a couple of layers of stiff cardboard would work]
  • A picture of Princess Poppy (google images is your friend), printed out to be the same size as your round cake, to use as a template for her features [OR, use my printable template included at the bottom of this post!]

I also used fondant adhesive and a fondant roller, both of which are handy, but not essential. I also have special fondant-cutting/decorating tools (scalpel etc.) which are handy for the detailed areas, but a small sharp knife will do the job too.

Method

1. Once you have baked your cake and cupcakes, leave them to cool and then lay them out to finalize the number of cupcakes that you want to use.

How to make a Princess Poppy cake with pull-apart cupcake hair: step by step tutorial to make a Trolls Princess Poppy Cake
How to make a Princess Poppy cake with pull-apart cupcake hair: step by step tutorial to make a Trolls Princess Poppy Cake

The Face

Once the cakes are completely cool, you’re ready to start the decoration.

How to make a Princess Poppy cake with pull-apart cupcake hair: step by step tutorial to make a Trolls Princess Poppy Cake
How to make a Princess Poppy cake with pull-apart cupcake hair: step by step tutorial to make a Trolls Princess Poppy Cake

1. Roll out the pale pink fondant until it is large enough to more than cover the cake.
2. Dirty ice the cake, I used vanilla frosting.
3. Lay the sheet of pink fondant over the cake, smooth it out and then start trimming. Cut it slightly larger than you think you need and then ‘tuck’ it in neatly under the cake. Work your way around the cake until it is completely covered.
4. Using a round cookie cutter (or similar) cut out two rounds big enough to cover two of the cupcakes to make the ears, dirty ice two cupcakes and top with fondant.

How to make a Princess Poppy cake with pull-apart cupcake hair: step by step tutorial to make a Trolls Princess Poppy Cake

5. Take your picture of Princess Poppy and carefully cut out her eyes. Keep the rest of her face intact as you will use this to ‘mark’ where her eyes should go on the cake before placing them.
6. Using the cut-out eyes as a template, cut out the black shape of eyes/eyelashes.
7. Next, cut out the white circle and use it as a template to cut out the required fondant.
8. Repeat with the pink and blacks circles, and then lastly roll two small balls of white fondant for the highlights.
9. Using a little fondant adhesive, layer the elements of the eyes until you have two complete eyes.

How to make a Princess Poppy cake with pull-apart cupcake hair: step by step tutorial to make a Trolls Princess Poppy Cake
How to make a Princess Poppy cake with pull-apart cupcake hair: step by step tutorial to make a Trolls Princess Poppy Cake

10. Using the print out of Poppy’s face (which will now have two holes in it where the eyes used to be!) mark the locations for the eyes lightly on the cake, then stick the completed eyes in place with a little fondant adhesive.
11. Using the same process, cut out her nose and her eyebrows from the print-out and then from fondant, again using the holes in the print-out to mark their locations on the cake.
12. For her mouth, I just made a thin roll of fondant and gave her a little smile!

How to make a Princess Poppy cake with pull-apart cupcake hair: step by step tutorial to make a Trolls Princess Poppy Cake

13. Use the same process to make her headband. Roll and cut a strip of green fondant long enough to lay over her hair, and then cut out small green leaves and blue flowers. Layer the leaves and flowers as shown above, stick and leave to dry. Then, lay this to one side to use once later.

The Hair

You are now ready to frost her ‘hair’. Lay the cupcakes out into their final positions. You want them pushed as tightly as possible against each other to make frosting the gaps easier.

How to make a Princess Poppy cake with pull-apart cupcake hair: step by step tutorial to make a Trolls Princess Poppy Cake
How to make a Princess Poppy cake with pull-apart cupcake hair: step by step tutorial to make a Trolls Princess Poppy Cake

14. Firstly, add her fringe/bangs to her face. I used a palette knife and marked out where I wanted her fringe/bangs to go and then filled in with the frosting. Use the spreading action to create continuous lines in the direction her hair would fall.

How to make a Princess Poppy cake with pull-apart cupcake hair: step by step tutorial to make a Trolls Princess Poppy Cake

15. Then start icing the cupcakes! Start at the head and work your way to the end of her hair. The cupcakes will want to move, popping a blob of frosting on the bottom of each one should help keep them in place, but use one hand to keep them in place if need be as you frost each line of cupcakes. Again use the palette knife to create sweeps of hair as you go. Work your way all the way up to the top and you will soon have Poppy’s trademark hairstyle. Lay on her headband and your work is done!

How to make a Princess Poppy cake with pull-apart cupcake hair: step by step tutorial to make a Trolls Princess Poppy Cake
 How to make a Princess Poppy cake with pull-apart cupcake hair: step by step tutorial to make a Trolls Princess Poppy Cake

My daughter loved her cake, and it was a big hit at her birthday party. We served the cupcakes to the kids, and it was perfect. It was so quick and easy to serve too, which at a party with 20 kids, all clamoring for cake, is a very good thing!

And Princess Poppy’s ear was a perfect spot for a candle :)

How to make a Princess Poppy cake with pull-apart cupcake hair: step by step tutorial to make a Trolls Princess Poppy Cake

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments, I’m happy to help, and let me know if you try making it!

Feel free to download this printable template which will (hopefully!) help with Poppy’s face… printed out at standard US letter size (or A4), the features will fit an 8 or 9 inch round cake.

How to make a Princess Poppy Cake with pull-apart cupcake hair – PRINTABLE TEMPLATE FOR FACE

111 thoughts on “How to make a Princess Poppy cake with pull-apart cupcake hair”

      1. How did u make the cake and cupcakes stay on the board? And where did you purchase a board that big? I couldnt find one.

        1. Sara | mumturnedmom

          Hi Madelyn, apologies for the slow response! Summer vacation! The cakes actually stayed on, no problem, but if you’re worried you can put a small blob of frosting under each cake to ‘stick’ them to the board to keep them from sliding. For the board, I happened to have an off cut of wood just the right size, but in the past I have made a board from the sides of an old cardboard box, cut to size, using two/three layers to make it stiff enough. I then covered it with aluminium foil. Hope that helps!

          1. Love this cake! My friend is going to make it for my daughter’s birthday this weekend. Could you tell me the dimensions of the cake board? I’ve got a hunk of wood I think will work, but not sure it’s quite long enough.

          2. Sara | mumturnedmom

            Hi Amy! Thank you :) The cake board (piece of wood!) that I used was 15″ x 30″…

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  2. Oh my gosh, that is amazing! Thank you for your detailed step by step instructions, makes it easy to follow. I think I will try this for my daughter’s bday in August!!

    1. Sara | mumturnedmom

      Hi Rebecca, I really must create a printable to go with this, it’s on my to-do list! I used Google images, and it was actually quite tricky to find a picture where Poppy was looking straight at you, rather than to the side. In the end I used an image for a ‘Princess Poppy Hair Set’ where she has her chin resting on her hands. If you search for Princess Poppy in Google Images you’ll find it. But, I’ll also let you know when I make that printable and get it uploaded!

      1. Hi do you know what cupcake size cases you used are they just standard size cupcakes .
        Thank you going to attempt at making this in January for my daughters 5th birthday. X

    1. Sara | mumturnedmom

      Hi Aubrey! I used Pillsbury Hot Pink Vanilla frosting (it’s a Funfetti one, I just didn’t use the sprinkles in the lid!). I bought the fondant at Michaels – this time I used the Sweetshop brand, but I often use Wilton fondant too. Hope that helps :)

      1. Hi can I ask how much of the frosting did you use for the hair?
        I love this cake and I’m going to attempt it in October for my Granddaughter’s 5th birthday, I’ve downloaded the face and pre made that.

  3. I am in love with this, just simply adorable and cannot wait to make this for my granddaughters 5th Birthday!!! YOU ARE AMAZINGLY TALENTED

    1. Sara | mumturnedmom

      Thank you so much Tina, that’s very kind of you, I really appreciate you taking the time to comment. Good luck making the cake, and do let me know how you get on!

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  5. How much did it cost to do all of it? My daughter loves Poppy I wanted to try to do it for her birthday.

    1. Sara | mumturnedmom

      Hi Alisha, I guess that depends on how much you make from scratch versus buying ready-made. For a ready-made solution, it would be two cake mixes, 1 tub of white frosting, two tubs of bright pink frosting and the fondant. The pale pink fondant was about $8, I had scraps of the other colors left over from previous cakes so didn’t need to buy extra, but the small tubs of Sweetshop fondant are around $4.00 each. I would expect around $3.50/$4.00 for the two cake mixes (making your own would be less). Then about $5.00/6.00 for the frosting… Again, making your own buttercream would reduce this. So that would be a total of around $20, depending on how much frosting and fondant you need to buy. The biggest outlay is probably the fondant, as you can easily make the rest from scratch cost effectively.

      Having said that, a professionally made cake could set you back anywhere from $50-100, so it’s still quite cost effective! Let me know if you have any other questions.

  6. Hi I live in the UK. Can I use coloured buttercream for the hair instead of frosting. To make the princess Poppy cake. Thanks Kathy

    1. Sara | mumturnedmom

      Hi Kathy! Absolutely! In fact, my preference would be to make my own buttercream ordinarily (I find US frosting sooo sweet!) but time was not on my side and the pre-coloured frosting was a real timesaver!

      1. Hi Thanks for getting back. I have to make it for my granddaughter 4th birthday so will use the pink buttercream. Thanks. Kathy Kelly.

      2. What about the face? Would you recommend a icing like royal icing for the face instead of fondant? Never woeked with fondant and not really a lover of it either

    1. Sara | mumturnedmom

      Hi Cat! I’m so glad it was a success. Thank you so much for letting me know, that’s put a big smile on my face :)

  7. I am attending to make this right now.. having a hard time finding a good picture on Google for her face

    1. Sara | mumturnedmom

      Hi Jessica, it’s not easy to find a picture of Poppy where she isn’t looking to the side is it! The image I used was for a Princess Poppy Hair Set (if you use that as the search term, you’ll find it right at the top on Google Images). When I blew the image up to be the right size for the cake, it was quite blurry/pixelated, but it was sufficiently clear to use for her eyes/nose etc. I REALLY must get around to making a printable for this post!!

  8. Michelle Skwirz

    Hello, let me start by saying what an amazing cake! I am having a hard time finding the eyes on Google images. Do you think that you would be able to Add a printable template for the eyes? Thank you in advance. Michelle

    1. Sara | mumturnedmom

      Michelle, it’s on my list for this weekend! I’ll let you know as soon as I’ve uploaded the image :)

        1. Sara | mumturnedmom

          I’ve just uploaded it… this is a first for me, so do let me know if you have any problems with it!!

  9. Hi Sara, I am going to (attempt to!) make this cake today, for my daughters 5th birthday party tomorrow morning. Do you think the frosting needs to be put on before the party or is that something I could do today when I do the fondant / face etc… want to leave as little as possible to the last minute! Thanks

    1. Sara | mumturnedmom

      Hi Alex, so sorry I just saw this! I frosted the cupcakes in advance of the party and it was fine, I covered the cake with a large box until the party. Hope your daughter has a wonderful birthday!

  10. Plan on making this for my daughter’s 6th birthday the 23rd. My only concern is I’ve never worked with fondant before and we always have her party at the lake and camp which is only like 10 mins from home. I’m guessing my question is what’s the time limit of allowing it to be out in 100 degree weather without it melting because from what I’ve googled fondant doesn’t do well with heat. I’m also assuming I’m probably going to have to make a trip from the lake to home just to get the cake but if you happen to have any other ideas please let me know. Thank you

    1. Sara | mumturnedmom

      Hi Daryl, I have been lucky in that I haven’t had to deal with it being too, too hot when I’ve made a cake using fondant, although I have served them over the summer before. I would suggest that you want to limit time in direct sunlight, but as long as you can keep the cake in the shade it should survive long enough to serve! I tend to ice cakes as close to the party as I can, and then keep them as cool as possible, and covered, until I serve them. I’ve never had fondant ‘melt’ but it does get more difficult (stickier) to cut and serve when the weather is hot. Keep the cake covered/shaded for as long as you can, and just be aware that the fondant may stick/drag on the knife when cutting. Hope it all goes well!!

      1. I made this for my granddaughter last weekend and she loved it. All the girls loved her cake.
        I did it all in buttercream frosting, I don’t use fondant and everyone liked the way it turned out. Sara’s derections were great to follow.
        Thank you for sharing.

        1. Hello Carol, I was wondering if you have a picture of what the cake looks like with out using fondant? I will be making this for my daughter’s birthday in September and never used fondant but wanted to see if frosting looks as good.

        2. How did you figure out how to do the eyes? The size to proportions? Do you have a picture of the cake with buttercream frosting?

  11. I’ve never made fondant. If I buy from the store can I color it myself. If so what are your recommendations to get light pink? I love it I can’t wait to make it.

    1. Sara | mumturnedmom

      I was actually able to buy ready-made pale pink fondant (I used Sweetshop brand on this cake, but I often use Wilton fondant too). If you can only get white, it’s quite easy to color BUT add the food dye really slowly, using a TINY drop each time to get the color you want. And expect to end up with slightly pink fingers :)

  12. I am pretty excited to have found this page. A friend originally just shared just the finished creation, my friend with a trolls party soon loved it, so I was going to give this thing a shot, (based off the finished picture) and guesses lol… But now I have more to follow. This cake will be so fun! Thank you for sharing!

  13. Sandra Winchester

    I am making this for my granddaughters birthday party this weekend. Thank you for making this so much easier with your instructions.

  14. Just finished making this for a friends granddaughters 3rd birthday. Thank you so much for the awesome tutorial!

  15. I don’t use fondant. Any ideas on other things i could use instead? Looking for really simple ideas. Making for my soon to be 6 yr old who loves Poppy! Thanks.

    1. Sara | mumturnedmom

      Hi Tara, that’s a good question! You could easily use smoothed frosting for the main part of the face. Would you consider fondant just for the eyes/nose? Otherwise, you could perhaps use ready-made ‘writing’ icing (Wilton/Cake Mate/Betty Crocker), or your own piped icing, to draw on the main parts of her face (eyebrows, eyelashes and a simple eye shape)? Good luck! Let me know how you get on x

      1. Ok-I got my answer from here. I could use the icing . great. and I would use the fondant for the eyes, etc. however, I was thinking if using Marshmallows that you cut and dip into colored sugar for the flowers and improvising the rest. But I still love your invention, it’s really adorable. Thanks for the tips and showing me how it’s done !!

        1. Sara | mumturnedmom

          Hi Margie! First, apologies, we’re on vacation so I’ve only just picked up your comments. Glad you found the answer, I would have suggested this solution to you too, after reading your first question. And, I love the idea of the cut/dipped marshmallows for the flowers :) Let me know how you get on!

  16. Thank you so much for this tutorial! I am making this for my Daughters 3rd bday tomorrow! I am excited for how it will turn out!

  17. Thank you so much for this design and the template. Worked a treat and my five year old daughter is delighted!

    1. I just want to add – we had the party on the beach this afternoon. The cupcake element was amazing. My daughter loved going round all her friends handing out cakes (and eating spare icing as she went!). Thanks again. Looked great, real wow factor, and pretty easy to achieve for a relative novice.

      1. Sara | mumturnedmom

        Hi Amy, you’re very welcome, and thank you so much for the feedback. So glad it was a success and that your daughter had a great party :)

  18. I’m going to make this for my goddaughter and niece’s joint birthday party they will be 6 and 2. Rebecca the 2 year old is gluten free. I’ve done gluten free cupcakes before so the sponge is fine. I know the buttercream is ok but do you know if the colourings and fondants are gluten free??

    1. Sara | mumturnedmom

      Hi Chris, I can’t confirm that the fondant or colouring that I used are gluten free as it doesn’t explicitly state so on the packaging. I used Sweetshop and Wilton fondant and Wilton gel food colourings. Doing a quick google search suggests that food colouring and fondant are likely to be gluten free, but the over-riding advice is to check the packaging or call the brand. Sorry I can’t be more help, I wouldn’t want to risk giving you the wrong information on something this important!

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  20. How much of the pale pink fondant do I need to buy? I see the others are just scraps. I also see you uploaded the template. Where do I find that?

    Thanks. My daughter us super excited for me to make this!

    1. Sara | mumturnedmom

      Hi Kim, I used approximately 8oz of the pale pink fondant to cover the face and ears. The template is a clickable text link right at the bottom of the post, you should be able to download it just by clicking the link (‘How to make a Princess Poppy cake with pull-apart cupcake hair – Printable Template for Face’). Let me know if you have problems and I can email you a copy!

  21. This coming weekend, our church activity is Pinewood Derby for the women (no help from men in building the cars) and cake decorating for the men (no help from women). My husband happen to see this on Facebook (someone was sharing it around) and asked me “What is fondant?” When I asked why, he told me about this cake and said this is the one he wants to make. Mind you, this is the man who bakes a cake in at 9 x 13 pan, frosts it in the pan and just to make it fancy puts chocolate sprinkles on top.

    Pray for me.

  22. Hi Hun great cake. My daughter looked on google images and found a trolls cake she wanted, I typed in how to make it and your step by step instructions came up to the exact cake she wants. WINNING!!!! Anyways I have a tiny fridge, did you just do it all the morning of the party and leave it out?? Obviously won’t fit in a fridge?? Xo

    1. Sara | mumturnedmom

      Hi Claire! Thank you :) No, it definitely won’t fit in a fridge! Cake can be stored at room temperature once it’s iced (assuming you’re not having a heatwave!), so I baked the day before the party and did all the fondant work on the face, covered it and left it out overnight. I boxed up the cupcakes, then laid them out and did all the frosting the morning of the party. Hope this helps x

  23. Hi! Thanks so much for this idea! You said we could scale down to fit guest size. What size pan do you recommend and how many cupcakes for a small party? 10 people probably. Thank you so much!

    1. Sara | mumturnedmom

      Hi Marie,

      I’m so sorry, I’ve been on vacation so hadn’t seen this question. Hmmm, when I made the big cake, I drew it all out to begin with to get the right number of cupcakes for the number of guests… If it was me, for ten guests, I would probably do at least 15 cupcakes, to allow people to have more than one if they wanted (or didn’t like fondant). This version of the cake used a 9in cake pan, but for a smaller cake I might try a 6 or 7in pan instead, and then play around with the layout of the cupcakes (or you could use the same number/layout that I did, but do mini cupcakes instead?). Having said that, if you don’t have a smaller cake tin, you could simply alter the shape of her hair to use fewer cupcakes, Poppy does have various different hair styles! I’m going to have to draw this now :)

  24. I made this cake for my twin girls’ 3rd birthday. It turned out amazing! I even made fondant for the first time. Great tutorial

    1. Sara | mumturnedmom

      Hi Heather, my preference is always for homemade buttercream, but if I run out of time (which I often do!) then I will use the can frosting/buttercream. Either is fine :)

  25. I am making it this weekend!! It’s the cutest poppy cake I have ever seen and my daughter is really excited!!! Love the step by step instructions and I’m looking forward to the final result!! Thank you

  26. Thank you for the instructions! I just finished mine (hate I can’t add a pic!) It luckily wasn’t a Pinterest fail thanks to you! My daughter is so excited for tomorrow.

  27. I dont like fondant. I used store bought frosting. I warmed up the frosting for the face so it would be smooth. I used icing for the face. I was surprised how easy this cake was to make.

  28. Julie humphries

    Hi I’m going to try and make this cake for my granddaughters 3rd birthday . What mixture did you use for the sponge going to make my own but wasn’t sure what quality to use

    1. Sara | mumturnedmom

      Hi Julie, I have to admit I cheated with a cake mix for this cake! I just used a standard white cake mix (Pillsbury on this occasion) :)

  29. Love this idea. Never worked with fondant before so had to improvise on the eyes a little but I think it worked. Thanks for the idea everyone loved it!!

    1. Sara | mumturnedmom

      Hi Kimberley! The cake/cupcakes took about an hour and a half all in, including baking time, there’s a lot of cupcakes! Plus cooling time on top of that, of course. Decorating the face took me about an hour and a half, and frosting the cupcakes/hair took about thirty minutes. Hope that helps!

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  32. Made your ‘Poppy’ cake today for Granddaughters 4th Birthday tomorrow … She will love it …Thank you so much – your instructions were easy to follow.

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  34. I made this for my daughter’s 3rd birthday this past weekend and it was a HUGE hit for both kids and adults!! My next project is the My Little Pony cake for my oldest daughter’s 6th birthday in December. Thanks so much!!

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  37. I’m so happy I came across this. I have made this for my daughters 4th birthday. 1st time I’ve attempted anything like this and your instructions were amazing I followed it step by step and came out with a great cake. So thank you!!!

    1. Sara | mumturnedmom

      Thank you so much for the lovely comment. I’m glad that the instructions worked well for you! Hope your daughter enjoyed her birthday :)

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