Monday, 25 May 2009

How to Make a "2" Shaped Cake, OR, My Very Own Cake Wreck

Soooo, I think I might have created a cake wreck.

My friend Anna turned 21, and went home for a big family party. At the big family party, a cake in the shape of a 2 and a 1 was produced. However, the family party was not very cake orientated, so only the 2 got eaten. Since the cake had been professionally made, it was encased in a thick layer of royal icing, so Anna brought the 1 back to Edinburgh for a second birthday party.

I had offered to bake her a fairy castle cake, like this one, but now as we had a 1 already, it seemed more sensible to bake another 2. (While on the phone to my mother, she told me that she had once attempted a fairy castle cake for my 5th birthday. Apparently it was less than successful and instead resembled the Hagia Sophia.)

I haven't really done much with fondant, and wasn't in the mood to try royal icing either. As the cakes weren't going to even vaguely match, I came up with the idea of combining the 21 with the fairy castle. It was very late at night and I wasn't in my right mind. The idea was that the 2 would form a path to the castle, which would be formed from the 1 cake.

I didn't have a two shaped pan, so we had to improvise. There wasn't a big enough mixing bowl, so we used a punch bowl instead. We made a basic chocolate sponge, involving 450g butter, 450g sugar, 8 eggs, 400g of flour, 50g cocoa, some baking powder and salt. From this, we made a circular cake, a loaf cake and a square cake. It took the best part of 5 hours as the oven in Anna's flat was tiny and could only fit one tin at a time.

After the cakes cooled, and we'd covered some chopping boards in tin foil (classy), we set about building and decorating out 2. The loaf cakes was sliced horizontally to be the same height as the circle and square cake. We cut these two in half vertically so that we had a semi-circle, a short rectangle, and a long rectangle.

The semi-circle formed the top of the 2, and the long loaf rectangle the main cross of the 2. Finally the rectangle made from the square cake made the bottom of the 2. We cut of the corners of the loaf cake and trimmed the semi-circle to make it all fit together better. The layers were sandwiched together with chocolate buttercream, and also given a thin crumb coating to make the spreading of the rest of the buttercream easier.

All was well so far. However, I'd forgotten to bring gel food colouring, so we had to use some liquid stuff procured from a nearby Tesco Metro. We forgot to get any more icing sugar to make up for it, so the buttercream was ridiculously soft, and we couldn't get it as dark as I wanted. I should have chilled it for a bit, but the bowl wouldn't fit in the fridge! Instead of looking like lush grass, it looked like the weird pastel green you get in hospitals. I also tried to spike the icing up so it looked grassy rather than smooth, but again it was too soft to work with properly.

Next I decided to ice the path to the castle in pink, like the icing on the other cake. Again it was hard to get the consistency right, and the colour was too weak. Plus as it was so soft it was impossible to pipe neatly.

Next we made a cobblestone path out of chocolate raisins. Again, the image I had in my head was far far above what actually occurred on the cake.

Finally, we topped it off with a cardboard cut out of a knight on horseback and a turret for the castle.

Behold the wreckage...!

Structurally sound, tasty inside, wrecky design

At the party, everyone thought it tasted great. I even overheard someone saying "The green cake tastes far better than it looks!" which I think is a sort of compliment. I thought it was a bit dry and dense compared to my normal baking style, but passable. I'm scheduled in for another "official" cake next week so we shall see how that one goes. I might attempt a buttercream plaque/transfer.


MsMarmitelover said...

Your cake exploits sound like my own. My cakes for my daughter's birthday parties became a family joke.

Anonymous said...

I very much like the way the turret looks like the Tardis. Good cake.

Anonymous said...

A friend pointed me in the direction of your blog... I'm glad you like my castle cake! I have other designs on my website, too.


Jenny said...

Hi Suzanne!

Lots of inspirational cakes on your site, if only I was better with fondant or lived closer to London!