For each pint of liquid that the cake tin will contain, include:
Or, for cake tins I've got:
|2x 10" diameter, 1.25" deep round sandwich tins||12oz mix (6 eggs)|
|10"x10", 3" deep square tin||14oz mix (7 eggs)|
In order to make a chocolate sponge cake (which, of course, is the best kind :) replace some of the flour with sieved cocoa powder - I usually use about an ounce (25g) of cocoa.
Baking times will vary, depending on how big the cake is. Do not open the oven in the first half hour of baking! An 8" cake will take around 45 minutes, and cakes made in my 10" square cake tin take about 1 hour 15 minutes. The cake is ready when a skewer slid into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Once out of the oven, leave the cake in its tin for about five minutes to cool - during this time is will contract from the sides of the tin a little, making it easier to run a knife round the edges and remove from the tin onto a wire rack to cool properly.
I seem to be accumulating a backlog of "How to make" novelty cake postings, given that I've made four cakes in the past year and have yet to write any of them up. I'm hoping to at least start to clear the backlog in the next couple of days.
Before I do that though, it's high time I consolidated all of my cake-related web publishing onto one (i.e. this) site, rather than having some of the old stuff stashed away on my old homepage.
So just an advance warning for the impending cake flavour (sorry ;-) of this blog for a bit. I'm sure I'll be back to not posting anything soon...
I obviously need more time to work on my cakes so I can produce masterpieces like this dismembered body cake.
I particularly liked the idea of filling the cake with sauce which oozes out when the cake is cut, and the white chocolate ribs are inspired too.
This cake is a prime example of the lateral thinking sometimes needed when deciding what to make for someone. My mate Neil is into mountain-biking, walking, dancing to Ricky Martin ;-) and has been quite the market-gardener this year, but none of that lent itself to expression in cake. Neil also has a talent for falling asleep at the end of parties, with his beer still in hand, yet never spills a drop - thankfully Lynne realised that this was a suitably cake-worthy subject, and so I could get on with the task of expressing the idea in sponge.
First off, you need to bake the cake. Had I been able to find my loaf-tin, I think it would've made a better basis for the chair, but I couldn't, and so settled on my 10" square cake tin. See here for the basic sponge recipe. Once baked you should have something similar to this.
Next you must cut the cake. There are four pieces to make up the chair: base, back, and two arms. In the picture, I haven't yet separated the arms, but they will come from the long thin piece. The larger of the other two pieces will form the back.
Now you can mix a load of buttercream (I haven't got a recipe for that I'm afraid, I just throw butter, a little milk, and lots of icing sugar into a mixer until I get something of the right consistency. Usually I end up with far too much because I get the consistency wrong to begin with!) and use that to cement the pieces of cake together, and upholster the chair.
Finally, you need to create the marzipan "Neil" to sit on the chair. Break the marzipan into rough proportions ready for colouring: a small amount for the beer can, a bit more for his shoes, more again for his head and hands, and the remainder roughly into two halves, one for his legs and the other for his torso and arms. Once the marzipan is coloured, it's then a case of moulding it to the relevant shapes, and assembling into a person shape. Easier said than done, I know, maybe next time I make a figure I'll take pictures and describe it better. Fine details, like facial features, hair, lettering on the beer can, etc. are best applied in food colouring with a fine paintbrush.
All that remains is to present, and assist in the consumption of, the finished cake.
Anyone who has known me for any length of time will more than likely have sampled one of my cakes, and if they're lucky, they'll have been the recipient of one such confection. So, in the spirit of the great masters, and with a passing nod to londonmark, I present the Art of Novelty Cakes. Although this series will be a little less academic than Mark's, more vocational. My polytechnic to his "proper" university.
Cake is a wonderful medium in which to express oneself. It brings a whole new dimension of enjoyment to the consumer of the piece, for they literally get to do just that. In addition to the aesthetics of the cake, a good novelty cake will taste divine, and smell wonderful, and the true artist will bring this interplay of looks, tastes and textures together into the final work.
However, this brings us to the most important rule, and possibly the only immutable law in the art of novelty cakes: the cake must be eaten.
There will come a time when one recipient of a cake will proclaim "it is too nice to eat", and will want to keep it. For me, this happened with Julie's Pingu cake. It was kept in its box for the ten weeks of that summer term at university, untouched, and then transplanted, along with its marzipan penguins, to tin foil, so that she could return the cake box to me, and take the cake home. Maybe it still lies, mouldy, on a shelf at her parents'. Cake does not age well, like a fine wine, or a good Cohiba; any attempts to preserve it are destined to fail, and just deny the gustatory half of the experience.
The hardest part of any novelty cake project is the initial idea. This needs to be something which is relevant to the recipient of the finished cake, whilst also being achievable using the basic building blocks: cake, buttercream, and icing. For some cakes this will be obvious; the pool table for the avid player, the VW Golf GTI for the obsessed VW-fan (beware of combining roll-out icing with overly warm weather though...). Other cakes require more creative thinking; the bacon & egg buttie for the person who'll often rustle one up when you call round to see them, or the computer for the engagement of a work colleague. It helps if you have some knowledge of the interests and hobbies of the person for whom the cake is being made, but often restraint must be exercised, otherwise one could be tempted into designs which are too complicated or intricate to implement. Once the idea has been settled upon, then there is the minor task of bringing it into being.
There are four levels of competence on the path to the artist of novelty cakes.
What follows is not a foolproof method to recreate the cakes that I have made, merely some notes on how I made some cakes, at some point in time. To quote Nigel Slater in his excellent book "Appetite":
"I am convinced that a recipe should not be a set of rules to be followed to the letter for a mind-numbingly uniform result... Is that all there is to it? A recipe must work? Surely there is more to it than that[?]"