Sunday, 7 September 2008

Birthday cake for The Boy Wonder

It’s The Boy Wonder’s (AKA my nephew) 11th birthday so what could be better than a lovely sponge cake with buttercream? Answer – nothing!

This cake turned out a little surreal even by my standards and that’s its charm. Where else will you see pirate seals with a ship’s figurehead of a seal Amy Winehouse? (“In a psychiatric institute” is not an acceptable answer).

I feel I should explain the thought process behind the cake...even though it may frighten you to have an insight into the workings of my mind. Like most 11 year old boys, my nephew is fascinated by pirates. One of his favourite toys is Gottron, a rather lovely seal, who has ambitions to be a singer (he does have a beautiful singing voice so it isn’t a hopeless dream). Here is Gottron:

Keeping up so far? Good. Now, some while back I ordered marzipan seals and they’ve been unused and sitting in my cupboard ever since. Then I found a superb pirate ship cake tin...can you see where this is going?

Complicated tins cry out for cake release rather than just butter as you keep more of the fine detail; you can even see the little staircases between decks:

Of course, no pirate ship would set sail without a carved figurehead and I’m therefore hoping you’ll see the logic in a boatful of singing seals picking Amy Winehouse as theirs. All makes sense now doesn’t it? Please tell me it makes sense!

They tried to make her go to rehab, but she said “No, no, no”:

The cake is made from my trusty Genoese sponge recipe. My nephew is a sponge hoover and I know that if I made anything else he’d be disappointed. The recipe can be found here and I used 1.5x the quantity as the tin was so big. For your convenience I have set out the increased amounts below, but the basic mix will be enough for most average tins.

It is a myth that pirates made people walk the plank. If the Nassau Pirate Museum (ooh – get me!) taught me anything, it was that there is only one recorded incident of a person walking the plank. As for seals however, they had no stats...

All pirate ships have names and this one is no exception:

The crew had to serve a purpose in order to earn their keep. These two are on cannon duty. If you think the cannons look like Twix bars it’s because you have no imagination:

I freely admit I am no cake decorator but I am rather proud of this. What it lacks in skill it makes up for in oddness:

Gottron, meet Amy:

Genoese sponge never disappoints; it’s soft and crumbly and tasty and delicious:

Abandon ship! Abandon ship! She’s lost half her hull and is sinking!

As it was a birthday tea, I also made my Nutella cupcakes. The recipe for these can be found here and I urge you to try it as they are the best cupcakes I’ve ever tasted! Modest as always!

Ingredients (for the genoese birthday cake):
For the sponge:
338g Unsalted butter
338g Caster sugar
338g Self raising flour
6 large eggs, beaten

For the buttercream:
250g Unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
400g icing sugar
Blue food colouring – to be used in half the buttercream

How to make:
- Preheat oven to 160°C/fan oven 140°C/325°F/Gas mark 3
- Grease (or brush with cake release) your chosen tin.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Don’t skimp on this stage as it’s the key to creating an airy sponge. I like to beat the butter on its own and then add the sugar as it seems to give a paler, lighter result.
- Add the flour and eggs a little at a time. Because you’re adding them alternately in small amounts the mix will not curdle.
- Add the vanilla and beat the mix until it’s fluffy, pale and glossy. Taste a tiny bit to ensure it tastes smooth – if you can taste any grittiness it isn’t properly mixed.
- Spoon into your tin.
- Bake. The larger your cake the more cooking time it will need. Larger cakes can take anything from 40 minutes to over an hour. The key, as always, is the look and whether a skewer comes out clean. Ensure that you skewer the cake in different places as I often find the edges may be cooked but the centre still very raw. Be patient – it’s worth the wait!
- Let cool in tin before turning out.
- Now make the buttercream. Beat the butter and vanilla together until smooth and pale then stir in the icing sugar before beating to a smooth buttercream. At this point, I split the buttercream into two bowls as I wanted to leave half of it naturally coloured, and then colour the other half blue for the sea.
- Assemble your cake as required.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful things you have made.
- Eat.


Beth said...

This looks fantastic

trashalou said...

'Amy Winehouse' seal as the figurehead of a pirate seal ship? Strangely it made perfect sense to me even before the explanation!

glamah16 said...

You are the best aunt and that cake takes the cake. Outstanding. I love how your mind works. Cake release is awesome but I saw a demo yesterday with a mixture of flour to butter. 2 parts butter to one part flour approx. Using a brush, just brush it in all the knooks and crannies. Way cheaper. I need to add to my collection. BTW ,I will be coming to London in a few weeks, but only staying in the city for a day and half before I move on to the Buckinghamshire for a wedding.

J.Danger said...

"I tried to make her go to rehab but she said no no no"


I don't think I could ever make something like that!

April said...

Brilliant cake, I've been tempted by the pirate ship tin myself...

April xx

Gloria (Canela) said...

Look wonderful and love always your cupcakes are soooo beauty!! xxGloria

SweetBites said...

Hi, just visited ur wonderful blog. A beautiful cake made with so much love.

Patty O. said...

What a great cake. I bet your nephew loved it. I make my kids' cakes and they often turn out somewhat surreal, but it sure is fun putting them together.

Margaret said...

What an amazing cake - well done to you.
Please stop teasing us with those Nutella Cupcakes!!

Katie said...

The pirate cake is fatastic - i'm sure it was a huge hit. Love the little seal pirates.
Those cupcakes look so yummy piled high with frosting

Emiline said...

Ha ha, I love it! That seal looks exactly like Amy.

daphne said...

Gosh-how many hours did u spend on the cake? That looks amazing!!!

RecipeGirl said...

Darling... just darling! Lucky nephew!

Maria said...

what a fun cake. I can't wait to try your nutella cupcakes!

Anamika:The Sugarcrafter said...

Wow, is the word, that came from my heart..such wonderful visual have done it beautifully and being the mother of 11 year old son myself, i know their world of harry potter and the pirates et al. very well done caked crusader !

A_and_N said...

My goodness! Thats the most intricate cake I have ever seen! how many hands do you have, again ;) ?

Ling's Passion said...

Great looking birthday cake. Can I have one for my birthday, please?

Dee said...

I can't believe you made this! Fabulous!

You're a better aunt than I am a mother - this year I bought his cake *hangs head in shame* Then I saw a silicon castle pan when I was in Singapore and bought the rose pan instead. Bad mum!

Uhm, Eli's birthday's in April. HINT!

I'm ignoring the fact that you also made BW nutella cupcakes.

Divya said...

You are one talented gal! Look at that cake, it is so beautifully done!
Got to have a lot of patience and talent I guess. Great work.
Do you go to pastry school?

Mike of Mike's Table said...

First off, that cake looks fantastic. You've really outdone yourself. Cake decoration is an area I fall very flat in. Secondly, the story behind this cake is hilarious!

Cyncalla said...

This cake, and everything about it (especially the Amy Winehouse seal) completely and utterly made my day.