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It was also my mum’s birthday last week. Since she’s a big fan of the game Angry Birds I made her an Angry Birds themed cake. I was at a bit of a disadvantage never having played the game, but I thought it would be fun so I pursued the idea. During the research stages I’d seen a couple of brilliant cakes. First of all was Anya Richardson’s amazingly detailed cake. Everything was on it. All of the characters with their funny expressions and even some blocks to knock over. Then I saw the unbelievable playable Angry Birds cake. I loved the idea and was very thankful for the little guide to making the characters, but such a masterpiece was beyond my scope. In the end I decided to make a simpler version of Anya Richardson’s cake, focusing on just a few of the characters (and not at all on the scenery!).

The cake itself had two ‘tiers’. The bottom tier was made out of digestive biscuit sponge (recipe below), loosely based on this recipe. The top tier was a simple lemon cake. I used the Hummingbird Bakery recipe, but a similar one can be found at joyofbaking.com. For the icing (beneath the fondant covering) I made the key lime icing from Ming Makes Cupcakes. I was aiming to create a blend between a cheesecake and a key lime pie. If there hadn’t been quite so much fondant, I think the effect would have been more pronounced, but overall I was very pleased with the taste and texture.

The characters were great fun to make. I made a few sketches from pictures I found of the game on google to try and work out proportions and rough shapes. Translating 2D images into 3D fondant characters was the biggest challenge. Fortunately, they’re really simple shapes. The birds are egg shaped (or triangle shaped for the yellow bird), while the pigs are just round blobs. I used pre-coloured icing for the majority of the characters. I only recoloured the yellow bird’s beak orange using a bit of gel food colouring. The fine details, like the pigs’ raised eyebrows, I did using a black food colouring pen.

The final element I included was the blocks on the top tier behind the pigs. I got the idea to make them from chocolate covered cake bites, after a visit to Bakerella’s blog. I modified her recipe a bit, using the digestive cake as the base and the key lime icing (recipe below). Surprisingly, for a decorative feature designed for aesthetic looks, rather than taste they were eaten faster than the cake itself.

Overall, the cake was well received. I’d love to make another one with all of the characters and more depth to the landscape. Maybe next year…

Recipes

Digestive Biscuit Cake
Ingredients (makes enough for a 9in/23cm cake tin)
225g/8oz Caster sugar
225g/8oz Butter
225g/8oz Self-raising flour
100g Digestive biscuit crumbs (the quickest way to make these is to break them up a little bit and then blitz  them in a blender)
4 Eggs
200ml Milk
1tsp Vanilla

1) Pre-heat the oven to 190C (180C for fan ovens) and line a cake tin.
2) Cream the butter and the sugar.
3)  Gradually add the flour and the digestive biscuit crumbs and stir in with a wooden spoon until combined.
4) Add the eggs one at a time, beating in until well combined.
5) Slowly add the milk, followed by the vanilla.
6) Transfer the mixture to the cake tin and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Chocolate covered cake
150g Cake (crumbled)
Left-over key lime icing
50-75g  Plain chocolate

1) Mix a few dollops of key lime icing into the cake crumbs. Keep adding the icing until the mixture has the consistency of fairly dry cookie dough (more akin to shortbread dough, than American style cookies).
2) Form the mixture into the desired shape. The smaller you make the shapes, the easier (and cleaner!) they’ll be to cover in chocolate. If you want to make rectangular or log shapes wrap the mixture in clingfilm and press it into shape on a worktop or flat surface.
3) Place the shapes on a plate or baking tray and refrigerate for an hour or two until sufficiently chilled to keep their shape when being covered in chocolate.
4) Melt the chocolate over a bain marie. Dip each cake shape in the chocolate and carefully place it back on the plate/baking tray before transferring back to the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

I made a double quantity of the key lime icing just to ensure that I’d have enough to ice the cake. I ended up having far too much, so I used the left over mixture to make cupcakes…

Key Lime Icing Cupcakes
Ingredients
115g Cream cheese
60g  Butter
250g Icing sugar (you could also use 225g caster sugar)
2tbsps Lime juice
250g Self-raising flour
2 Eggs

1) Preheat the oven to 180C and line a 12 cup muffin pan with muffin cases.
2) Make the key lime mixture by creaming the butter and the sugar first. Add the cream cheese and mix well. Finally, add the lime juice and beat.
3) Gradually add the flour and mix well.
4) Add one egg at a time and beat in using an electric whisk.
5) You can add a bit of milk to make the batter thinner at this point. It depends on how you prefer your cupcakes – if you like them dense then do not add milk, but if you prefer moist, fluffy cupcakes add about 60ml of milk.
6) Spoon the mixture into the muffin case and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

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The cake went down a storm. It has been completely demolished by everyone who has visited the house, including a semi-professional cake decorator. Even the joke cake was quickly consumed. I’ve never been terribly fond of fondant, but my brother seems to love it. He must have eaten close to 600g of it.

So, would anyone else like a cake for their birthday?

Everybody love cake, right? I’ve been watching rather a lot of Ace of Cakes and Cake Boss recently and as a result, I’ve been desperate to have a go at making a properly decorated cake. Since it’s my brother’s birthday tomorrow I offered to make him a cake. He’s a big Chelsea fan, so the cake is in the shape of a shirt with his name and… his age. Yes, he is 18.

I also made him a joke cake, simply because I had so much sugarpaste icing (fondant) left over.

I’d like to think it was done in the style of cakewrecks.com.

It’s Freshers’ Fair again and the Food Appreciation Society hopes to attract even more members than last year’s impressive 550. Even though I no longer have any formal ties to this illustrious establishment, I enjoy baking the treats to attract freshers to our stall.

L and I had a very fun (if a tad stressful – mini cupcakes are devils in disguise) afternoon making chocolate covered cornflakes and mini red velvet cupcakes to give away tomorrow. L has recently discovered that he can actually cook and I’m very keen to encourage this. He did an excellent job of melting the chocolate and butter and then mixing the cornflakes in without grinding them to dust.

The red velvets were slightly trickier…

I call them ‘faux’ red velvets because the cake mix simply doesn’t have the traditional ingredients. Firstly, I find buttermilk to be a very awkward ingredient because you can use it for red velvet cake and muffins, but not much else, as far as I’m concerned. Furthermore, I never bother with the vinegar step. I’m sure it’s very important for the puritans and I have had its benefits explained to me, but I’m just not sold. My philosophy in baking has always been: if it tastes good, it is good. I came up with this recipe by thinking about what a red velvet cake is. Essentially, it’s a devil’s food cake coloured red. A devil’s food cake is a chocolate cake, therefore, if I made chocolate cupcakes and coloured them red, they would look like red velvets. Admittedly, it doesn’t have quite the same taste as a real red velvet, but it’s pretty close and would certainly fool anyone just looking at it.

A word of warning, before I impart the recipe – only make mini cupcakes if you have some or all of the following:
1) 3-4 cupcake trays with 12 cups
2) Baking beans
3) A lot of patience
I only had two cupcake trays suitable for the job and not a lot of patience. Hence, there were some frustrating moments when my mini cupcake cases were not behaving and several were wasted as cake batter had to be scraped off them.

Faux Red Velvet Mini Cupcakes:
Ingredients
100g self-raising flour
40g butter
2 tbsps cocoa powder
150g caster sugar
120ml milk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2.5 tbsps red food colouring

Makes about 12 normal sized cupcakes and 40-50 mini cupcakes.
Pre-heat oven to 170C.

1) Cream the butter and the sugar with a wooden spoon. Then add the cocoa powder and mix it in until it looks like the base of a chocolate fridge cake. Gradually add the flour and mix thoroughly. From this point on, aim to achieve a sandy texture, almost like a crumble topping.
2) In another bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, vanilla and red food colouring. The milk should feel quite thick thanks to the egg and the food colouring makes it turn a gorgeous bright red colour.
3) Add about half of the milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir it well until there aren’t any lumps. This bit is best done with an electric hand mixer on a low speed. When you feel the mixture is as combined as possible, slowly add the rest of the milk mixture and continue to stir it in. You should be left with a very smooth, rich red cake batter.
4) Line the cupcake tins with cases and carefully fill each case just over three-quarters full. Put the cakes in the oven for about 12-15 minutes for mini cupcakes, 15-20 minutes for normal sized cupcakes or 20-25 for muffin sized cakes.
5) Allow the cakes to cool before icing. I used a piping syringe and vanilla buttercream with edible glitter to decorate mine. Traditionally, red velvet is iced with cream cheese icing. Ultimately, it’s a matter of taste and what you think would work well. Experiment!

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