Courtesy Disney. Inset:Ilya S. Savenok/Getty
Who baked it better?
That’s the question of the day in Disney’s new animated short, Pixie Hollow Bake Off, starring Giada De Laurentiis as the head of a group of dessert-loving fairies challenged by Tinkerbell and her gang to a cake-baking competition. And the stakes are high, at least in fairy terms: The winning cake will be featured at the arrival day party for Queen Clarion, the highest royalty in Pixie Hollow.
PEOPLE talked to De Laurentiis, who just opened her first restaurant, Giada, in Las Vegas, about her role, her daughter and her best baking tips:
How did you get involved with Disney?
Honestly, my daughter and I love to bake, and I really did the movie for her. She’s six years old, and she likes that I cook, but it’s not that interesting since she’s grown up with it. But she gets really excited about all these animated movies. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve watched Frozen! Now all she wants to do is watch Maleficent. I think it’s fun — sort of similar to what Angeline Jolie did with Maleficent — to do projects and shows that she will enjoy and that also promote family. Plus, this was a huge step out of my comfort zone!
Tell us about Gelata, the fairy you play in the short.
Gelata is part of the Baking Fairies, who are entering a high-stakes, head-to-head, Iron Chef-style bake-off to get the chance to bake a cake for the royalty of Pixie Hollow. I loved that the short teaches kids both about healthy competition and working together as a team
Okay, what’s your number one, most important baking tip?
When it comes to baking cakes, it’s essential to be really precise when measuring all of your ingredients, which is what the fairies learn in the short. It’s funny because I still deal with that issue today. I just opened a restaurant a few weeks ago in Vegas and one of the things I’ve had to alter is the desserts because it’s so dry there. I tinkered with the flour and the moisture. To get it right you have to practice a lot, but once you get the recipe and measurements figured out you have to stick to it.
You also have a series of kids books about food in different cities, right? Are there more books on the way?
Yes, the books are all in the Recipe for Adventure series, and follow two kids around the world exploring regional foods. The New Orleans edition just came out last week, and both Rio de Janiero and Maui are coming soon. Both the Disney short and the books encourage kids to have fun in the kitchen. All kids love to bake, and I really believe in promoting having fun cooking and being in the kitchen.
Preview an exclusive clip below, then watch the full short when it premieres July 1 on Disney Movies Anywhere.