As I mentioned in my WIP Wednesday post last week, it was my daughter’s birthday on Easter Sunday. The day itself passed by in a whirl of excitement as we went to visit family for a delicious Easter lunch after opening presents and cards in the morning. My little one had also requested a chocolate cake in the shape of a chicken. (I think she has more faith in my baking than I do-this post explains why!)
Once I had finished work last Thursday, my attention turned towards how on earth to produce this masterpiece of a cake. I kind of knew I wanted a dome shaped cake as the base, but the practicalities of baking such a thing (and the decorating!) seemed very demanding. I turned to the wonder that is Facebook for advice, knowing that a good many of my friends are superb bakers. From the replies I learned that I could bake it in a well greased Pyrex bowl, that baking parchment would help me to turn it out and that I needed to bake it for ages.
On Friday evening, once the children were in bed, my baking challenge commenced. Making the mix was easy enough, as was preparing the bowl. Baking the flipping thing was a different matter entirely. After it had been in the oven for an hour I had almost resigned myself to the fact that it was never, ever going to be cooked in the middle. Then I remembered that one of the school mums had posted a photo of a cake tin with a metal pipe in the middle to help it cook in the centre. I did not have anything so fancy, but I did have a lot of teaspoons (16 in fact, because they were on offer in B&M and I bought loads as they keep disappearing). I created some kind of elaborate teaspoon based cooking encouragement system, placing one handle down in the centre and four others pointing diagonally towards that one. It looked horrific-let’s just say it’s a good job I was planning on icing it. However, it did (eventually) cook through. I turned it out quickly onto a cooling rack and, feeling satisfied, covered it with a tea towel and went to bed.
In the morning I went to inspect my handiwork and came crashing down to earth with a bump-it was tiny, far too small to serve 11. My son had football training so I couldn’t solve the problem immediately, but whilst I was stood there in the pouring rain watching him get filthy I had an idea. Perhaps I could bake a round cake to sit underneath the bowl shaped one to make it taller. Thanks to some kind of miracle, I had a tin exactly the right size. When we got back home I quickly whipped up a cake mix and hoped it would look the same colour. (As luck would have it, it did!)
Decorating was up next, and I was lost. I had a vague idea involving moulded marshmallow and rice crispie mix to make a head and tail, then covering it all in chocolate buttercream. I wasn’t fully sold on that idea, so I was most relieved when a friend texted me a photo of a cake they had seen in a shop. It was a chick, and not a chicken, but it looked doable. I managed to persuade my soon to be four year old that a chick would be a really excellent cake, and proceeded to basically copy the photo. (If the shop bought cake had been chocolate, which was the type demanded by madam, I’d have just bought it as I was finding the whole thing a bit stressful by this point!) I also baked some cupcakes for those people who don’t like chocolate cake, which I topped with pink buttercream and mini eggs, a design feature suggested by my daughter.
I was really happy when I had finally finished, and both of my children were impressed when they saw it on the morning of her birthday. We transported it carefully in the car to my sister in law’s house using a cardboard box and some packing tape-I wasn’t taking any chances but it was too tall for my cake tin. Everyone who had some said they enjoyed it so it can’t have been too bad. (I was concerned it would be over baked after being in the oven for so long!) I don’t think I am patient enough for baking big cakes, but I guess there will only be so many years where my children put in their cake requests for their birthdays so I will keep trying.
I hope you all had a lovely Easter, however you celebrated. I’m quite glad my daughter’s birthday isn’t at Easter next year as it felt most bizarre-no one was sure if we were celebrating Easter or her birthday, but we all had a lovely day anyway.