Cakes

Cakes

The title says it all. We’ve been baking!

It has been a busy week with not one, but three cakes made. A Sicilian cassata, a pathology-themed teratoma cake, and an experimental mirror glazed Victoria sponge. I have been enjoying getting back into baking now that I have more time in the evenings and that has allowed me to trial a number of recipes and ideas that I had previously shelved.

Cassata the Second

The first of the trio was my second attempt at making cassata, the Sicilian sponge cake sandwiched with layers of sweet ricotta cream and dark chocolate chips. The decadent dessert is wrapped in marzipan, then topped with lemon icing and candied fruit. The original recipe is here on the Guardian.

This was a birthday cassata!

We stuck largely to the recipe the first time round, but found some useful modifications. When I have more time I’ll post a detailed version, but the changes boiled down to the following:

  • Used two 23cm tins for that amount of cake mixture instead of one
  • Sliced the sponge cakes horizontally to create traditional sandwich layers instead of creating 1cm strips and cobbling it together
  • Drizzled limoncello over the sponge instead of marsala/orange water
  • Ready made marzipan for convenience
  • Used two 250g tubs of ricotta (total 500g as it was better than having the excess left over) and scaled the sugar to 190g
  • The juice of half a lemon, rather than 2 tsp (2 tsp liquid to 200g icing sugar?!)
The all important cross section

This ultimately made for a taller and more impressive cake, and one which was more practical to assemble. I’m quite happy with the recipe as it now stands – it’s easy to execute, although most of the time is spent in assembly. It’s also handy to have an excellent decorator at hand. I build the structure and she makes it look nice. Dream team.

The Abomination (The Teratoma Cake)

It may look nasty, but I’m assured that it tastes great, having taken the award for “Tastiest Bake”. Not winning the best pathology themed cake was a little disappointing, but it was a fun mid-week project and something entirely out of the dark recesses of my cerebrum.

The concept was based on a type of (mostly) benign ovarian tumour called a teratoma. Teratoma’s are germ cell tumours which can have smorgasbord of tissue types. Hair, fat, skin, brain. You name it, it can be found in a teratoma. Even fully formed teeth. The gross out factor made it perfect for getting noticed. The underlying cake was a basic Victoria sponge with vanilla buttercream and apricot jam, but the real fun was in the cyst contents.

The Teratoma Cake

It’s common to find cream cheese-like material inside these cysts, which is represented by buttercream. Apricot jam signified fat, the cola laces were the hair and the teeth…well, that one is pretty self explanatory. Plug “ovarian teratoma” into your search engine and you’ll see what I’m talking about. It wasn’t the most outstanding cake we’ve ever made, but it was fun to do and won us a £15 Amazon voucher and a tiny bottle of prosecco.

Look at it shine…

I knew next to nothing about the methods in the last project, but after seeing the end results, I couldn’t resist giving it a go. The mirror glaze technique has been knocking around for a long time but has had a surge in popularity online over the last five years. It was time for us to have a go.

First thing’s first. You need to have a perfect base to begin with. This isn’t something I’m particularly good at and consequently my cakes look fairly rough. Getting everything nice takes far more buttercream than I would usually use, so this isn’t going to be a go to for a standard birthday cake.

After the cake is iced, it goes into the freezer to set completely. It needs to be properly cold for the glaze to set. The glaze is composed of white chocolate, sugar, gelatine and condensed milk. The mixture is split, dyed and then combined into a funky layered pattern in another bowl. (This process generates many, many dishes)

Once that concoction is assembled, it’s time for the fun part. The glaze is poured over the cake and the excess allowed to run off into a tray. This was our first attempt and either the difference in gelatine from the recipe (we used leaf, and the recipe gave powdered gelatine) or the temperature of the cake might have influenced the ability of the glaze to set. It seemed like the majority ended up back in the tray. The effect was still really cool though.

We opted for black, pink, purple and blue to create a galaxy effect. I can see why people go to the effort for what is a stunning end result, but I have also experienced the faff involved. It’s something I will continue to experiment with, but not every day. The amount of sugar in this cake is eye-watering.

Elden Ring Update

Margit the Fell Omen is felled. I defeated the first major boss by a narrow margin, and I am slowly progressing through Stormveil Castle. Elden Ring can be remarkably frustrating yet simultaneously rewarding. If you’re yet to pick it up, and have a few spare days laying around, I’d definitely recommend it. Just don’t expect to be good straight away, or even after many hours. It’s brutally hard at times but worth it.

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