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'Firm' (but rising!) birthday cake recipe for making Princess dress part of!!!

(77 Posts)
Fillybuster Mon 09-Jan-12 11:28:09


DD1 has requested a 'Princess Fairy' cake for her birthday party next month. My plan was to bake the 'dress' in a 9" pyrex bowl (to be inverted and covered with icing), with a 9" round sandwich tin cake to go underneath for extra height. Then I just cut some holes, plunge my naked doll in, and ice the lot. Easy, right?

Except I had a trial run with Nigella's 'birthday cake' (from Dom Goddess) recipe last week, which she specifically recommends for this sort of cake. The bowl cake rose too much in the middle, but stayed low around the sides, and is quite a dense cake, so it sank down and lost even more of its height when cooling.

Delicious, but no use at all.

Before I give up and move onto Plan B (a patterned ring mold on top of a 11" springform, which will look much less 'dress like'), can anyone please recommend a reliable recipe for the pyrex bowl approach?

I'm moving house in 2 weeks so really need to get the baking done, and into my mums freezer, to be ready ahead of time.....

Thank you!!!!

stealthsquiggle Mon 09-Jan-12 11:37:22

ah - I was about to recommend Nigella's buttermilk cake (except that I always use the yoghurt and milk mix instead of spending a fortune on buttermilk) - I have used it for a barbie-style princess (except that Barbie's legs were too long (I couldn't bring myself to amputate) so it did need at least one circular cake underneath for added height, and a bit of carving (post-freezing) - this was the result.

If it is rising too much / unevenly maybe oven is a bit hot? I seem to remember I generally lower the temperature a bit vs. recipe.

stealthsquiggle Mon 09-Jan-12 11:47:15

meant to say - if you don't have the time/energy to try again with buttermilk cake, then go for a madeira cake recipe - it won't be quite as moist and yummy, but it is firm enough to be carved and to support it's own weight and that of the icing.

tigerandtabs Mon 09-Jan-12 11:53:47

Madeira definitely - if you're worried about moistness (cake-wise, nowhere else....) then can slice horizontally, once or twice, through it when cooked and sandwich together with jam/buttercream. To work out quantities, find a madeira recipe and see what sort of tin it suggests you use. Fill this tin with water and then pour water from that into the tin/bowl you intend using. Keep refilling recipe tin and pouring into your tin/bowl, counting how many times you have to do it to fill the tin/bowl you are using (when I say fill, obviously don't fill right up to the top, 2/3 up about right to allow for rising). Then multiply the recipe by the number of times you had to fill the recipe tin with water. If the pyrex bowl is v large and deep, may be worth knocking 10 or 20 degrees off over temp and cooking for a bit longer so it is cooked in middle but not burnt on outside. Hope that helps.

tigerandtabs Mon 09-Jan-12 11:55:13

Sorry, meant to add that is worth doing a second 9 inch round cake in case not enough height from bowl and 1 round cake - can always freeze if you don't need it (always room in my house for "spare" cake....)

BeattieBow Mon 09-Jan-12 12:10:26

I was going to say make a madeira cake, but I was beaten to it! definitely easier to cut into shape.

Fillybuster Mon 09-Jan-12 12:21:57

Once again, MN to the rescue!

Stealth shockshockshock That's amazing....maybe you want to come and make mine??

Tigerandtabs yy, I spent 30 minutes pouring water from one tin into another (to the amusement of all dcs) in an effort to get quantities right.

Thing is, there's something about baking in a deep-ish bowl rather than a flat tin, that makes the cake come out funny. It was thoroughly cooked around the sides but needed about an extra 50% time to get the middle cooked through.

Anyone have any experience with this? I was wondering whether a 'heat conductor' type thing in the middle would help, but wasnt sure how/what or how I could make it stand up....Am I just overthinking the whole thing??

Funnily enough, I had planned to make a madeira cake (the 'obvious' option), right up until I spotted the bit in Nigella's butermilk cake text about using it for barbie-doll style ones....right, will get going with round 2 tonight....

tigerandtabs Mon 09-Jan-12 12:32:57

Have never had problems with madeira in a bowl not rising properly, it just always seems to do so. If you do the 2 round cakes for the height, that would allow you to do a more shallow bowl, which would help with the cooking in the middle problem. Also, if you feel that's not skirt-y enough, you can use a "frill" of rolled out fondant icing round the bottom.

Fillybuster Mon 09-Jan-12 12:46:13

OK, I shall find an evening when dh is working late this week, as birthday cake baking (and my attendant stress) has come close to being grounds for divorce in our house, then make up a double batch of Nigella's madeira cake and give it a go.

Unless anyone has a better recipe? The Nigella one is lovely, but does always develop a long crack in the middle (exactly as per her picture in the book).

Thanks for all the tips...I will try slightly lowering the oven temp, and may have a play with different tins and things to acheive the same effect with shallower bowl. Actually, 2 sandwich tins, and then the same bowl (but only half full) might work with some clever trimming....

stealthsquiggle Mon 09-Jan-12 15:18:52

I have never tried the Nigella madiera recipe, TBH. I have always used one from one of many cake books I have - which can be quite dry, but doesn't noticeably crack. For both madeira and buttermilk cake, I make a "dip" in the centre of the mix which possibly helps a bit of offset dome-shape cakes (TBH, I am struggling to remember how domed or otherwise they come out, as my DC think cake trimmings are the best bit of me making cakes hmm)

if sandwich tins are a lot easier, then there is no reason why you couldn't just make a cylindrical stack of cakes, freeze them, and then carve the shape out later.

Fillybuster Mon 09-Jan-12 16:10:48

Would you be interested in sharing your reliable recipe Stealth? If you can be arsed to type it up on here....which I appreciate is a major faff....

I don't mind a bit of trimming per se (dh is similarly inclined, so much so that there are never any trimmings left by the time the dcs wake up) but I'd like to avoid actual shaping if possible, as I will be constructing the finished product whilst staying at my mums....and whilst that may not send shivers down your spine, it certainly terrifies me. She is a not someone who shares her kitchen space I will need to get the construction and decoration done super fast on the night before the party....

stealthsquiggle Mon 09-Jan-12 16:14:35

The thought of trying to do cake construction in my DM's kitchen fills me with dread, Filly, believe me!

I will find the recipe tonight. There is also a good "strong chocolate cake" recipe in one book which has become my DC's preferred choice - would you like that one too? If you know what size your pyrex bowl is I can probably give you the right quantity for it, as there are tables for all the permutations used in the book, including plenty of pyrex bowls.

Fillybuster Mon 09-Jan-12 16:53:22

Actually, constructing and decorating the cake in my DMs kitchen is the least of my concerns. Living with her for 2-3 weeks in between selling our house (& moving out on dd1's birthday, poor kid) and completing on the house we're buying (as we couldn't get the 2 dates lined up) is what really fills me with total dread.....

Anyway <deep breath>...

Stealth, I think I might be a little bit in love with you. Yes please to both the recipes....I like to do stripes when I do multiple bakes and a nice firm chocolate cake would be perfect for this - I normally use the Nigella old-fashioned chocolate cake for 2 large traybakes, then freeze and construct, but I don't think it will work in a bowl, and your conversion advice. I will measure the size and volume of my pyrex bowl as soon as I get home from work and escape the dcs for 2 mines. Thank you thank you thank you....

stealthsquiggle Mon 09-Jan-12 17:00:40

OK - method on the chocolate cake is a bit of a faff (involves separating eggs and then folding the beaten whites into the rest of the mixture at the end), but if I don't have time to precis it I will scan the book and them PM you!

Fillybuster Mon 09-Jan-12 20:19:40

Once again, I need to declare deep, undying and massive appreciation of MN in general, and Stealth in particular....

Right. I have measured the bowls and think I have spotted the source of my problems....

Bowl 1 (the one I used last time) has perfect depth and a nice 9" diameter (so sits beeeeoootifully on top of my sandwich tin cakes) but holds a scarily large 2 litres.

Bowl 2 (which has an 8" diameter, but I could def do some trimming or building up with icing) holds 1 litre.

Stealth - happy to go with the madeira cake (I can always chuck some cocoa powder in to make the kids think its chocolate!) if that's easier to type up.

Going to do some baking tomorrow night, methinks smile

stealthsquiggle Mon 09-Jan-12 21:27:10

OK, so definitive quantities for a 2l bowl madiera cake are as follows (quantities in oz because I find them much easier to scale up/down with number of eggs that way):

5 eggs
10oz Self Raising Flour
5oz Plain Flour
10 oz soft butter
10oz caster sugar

sift flours together. cream butter & sugar. Add eggs one at a time, each with a spoonful of flour, beating well. Fold in rest of flour. Spoon into greased bowl, make a dip in the centre. Bake for 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 hours at 160 deg C.

Less definitive, but best guess for 2 * 9" round cakes for choc cake recipe (sorry, can't be the other way round as I can't find quantities for a 2l bowk chocolate cake):

15oz plain choc (I use the Sainsburys basic, but guidance in 60% + cocoa)
10 oz soft butter
6oz caster sugar
10 eggs
2.5oz icing sugar
10oz S R Flour

melt chocolate. cream butter and sugar. separate eggs. add egg yolks and then chocolate to butter & sugar (beat in between!). Whisk whites with icing sugar to stiff peak. Fold alternate lots of flour and egg whites into chocolate mixture. Bake for 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 hours at 180 deg C.

For both cakes, allow to cool completely in tin and then wrap well and leave for at least 12 hours before cutting.

Hope that helps - let me know if I have precis-ed too much.

MaureenMLove Mon 09-Jan-12 21:35:31

I'd forgotten how lovely your cakes are Stealth! Just had another little nose. (And shuddered at R2D2!wink)

He may be making a come back next month. It's either that or a scuba diving cake. I have yet to make my choice! Can't help thinking R2D2 would be easier second time around, but also I like the challenge of something different! grin

Sorry - hijacked a bit there! YY to everything Stealth and others say! grin

stealthsquiggle Mon 09-Jan-12 21:40:43

lots of fun scuba cakes around, Mo - I like this one and this one.

Excuse us, Filly - Mo and I have shared cake history grin

MaureenMLove Mon 09-Jan-12 21:52:11

Yeah and R2D2 was almost history a number of times!! grin

I think I'm going to do this one as the top tier and build a sea scape around two more tiers.

stealthsquiggle Mon 09-Jan-12 22:03:08

let me know how it goes - I think I now know what DH's birthday cake will be this year grin

Fillybuster Mon 09-Jan-12 22:52:31

Stealth, that looks great...the precis'd instructions look exactly like the ones I normally scribble for myself grin

Loving the scuba cakes....any chance of getting a look at R2D2? Not that I'm planning ahead, or anything, but I can see what might be coming for ds' 7th this summer....grin I think a sugarcraft course might be in order at some point though - my icing skills are soooooo far away from these....

Btw, Stealth - I assume I can safely halve both recipes if I decide to go with the smaller 1 litre bowl instead?

And do you have an approximate number of eggs (I can work the rest back from there) for 2 standard 9" round sandwich tins for the madeira cake? (I appreciate that now I'm being just plain cheeky....)

I'm going to to the baking tomorrow evening, so will let you know how it goes smile

stealthsquiggle Mon 09-Jan-12 23:00:06

this is my R2D2 - not sure if Mo still has photos of hers online (all my cakes here).

Yes, 1l bowl is half the recipe - so I would go with 3 eggs for a single one and it would overflow.

Not sure about the 9" tins - I will check later.

Fillybuster Tue 10-Jan-12 09:10:27

omg....I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry or just give up now

Those are amazing, stealth shockshock I can't get over the level of detail you create, like the stone walls on the castle (and the pigs/gargoyles!), and the little lego blocks holding the r2d2 candles, and that monster......

I am clearly in the presence of baking greatness grin

Did you do a course, or just work out how do to this all by yourself?

Not sure I'm going to be able to share the end results of my fairy cake...I'm soooooo far out of your league!

homeaway Tue 10-Jan-12 09:25:49

Can I ask a question pretty please. I have to bake a birthday cake for ds who will be 21. We live abroad and will be travelling to a guest house for the weekend. We will arrive on Thursday and need the cake for Saturday , my guess is that a victoria sponge will be horrible if cooked on Thursday ? The request i have from ds is for bright coloured butter cream. Does a madiera cake have more butter in it and would that keep better or should I just bake the cake at the guest house ( there is an oven there) but can forsee dh getting mad with me. He has said that he does not mind one from M and S but .....

Fillybuster Tue 10-Jan-12 10:25:40

Could you bake it in advance, wrap it well and freeze it thoroughly, then travel with it frozen and chuck it into the freezer at the guesthouse when you arrive? Or even let it defrost slowly at that point. You could make up the buttercream icing in advance, freeze that as well, then refridgerate that on arrival and do the decoration on friday evening/sat morning.

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