Jurassic cake

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So, I appreciate that this cake has nothing whatsoever to do with ancient artefacts. I also appreciate that there are undoubtedly gross inaccuracies in my rendering of the dinosaurs, not least the question of what a pterodactyl is doing in the forest (the nagging doubt in my mind as to whether a pterodactyl is actually a dinosaur has been confirmed by a quick google search, so make that ‘gross inaccuracies in my rendering of the dinosaurs and pterosaurs’. I’d go back and change it, but it just seems like cheating to act as if I knew that in the first place).

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The basic cake for this is a vanilla sponge, because, contrary to appearances, I am actually very busy at the moment, and trying to think of the cake design and the cake as well proved too much. I covered it with a nice, light green fondant, and then I spent several hours playing with my airbrush to make something that vaguely approximated a forest. The dinosaur (and indeed, pterosaur) silhouettes are cut, painted fondant. And the egg is an ostrich egg, filled with tickets for Jurassic World. Because this is a birthday cake. Happy birthday, mum. Life finds a way.

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Don’t worry, we also got her that Clint Eastwood film where he teams up with an orang-utan.

Ur Excakevations

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So, this is based on what I distantly remember Ur Excavations volume II looks like, and jewellery from the Royal Cemetery. Jewellery like this:

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And this:

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I went for a book cake because I was just given an airbrush for spraying edible paint: I was desperate to give it a try, but also knew that spraying evenly might well be harder than it looked. So the book is an old book, and any patchiness is caused by my desire to create a battered, used effect, and should certainly not be put down to the fact that I am so bad at airbrush spraying I held the airbrush the wrong way round and sprayed the cupboard behind me.

This cake is made from the commonest vanilla sponge (2 eggs, 100g of flour, butter and caster sugar, 1 tsp baking powder and a splash of vanilla). I crumb coated it, covered it in fondant (while wishing I’d picked a slightly smaller book), and then airbrushed in the colours. The beads are little fondant shapes, left to dry and then painted. Simple.

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Oh, and I found a picture of Ur Excavations vol. II online.

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I mean…they’re vaguely similar. At least I didn’t imagine the red spine.

Royal game of Ur cake

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Here’s what the royal game of Ur looks like when it’s not been made of cake:

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Now, making this took me a good three days, hours of icing with a toothpick, and far, far too much time tempering chocolate. My kitchen is so sticky, chocolatey and icing-y, I’m wondering how best to break the news to my boyfriend that we’re just going to close the door and never go back in. We can live on take-out. Take-out and royal game of Ur cake. If that all sounds like your idea of fun (and I can only imagine it does), here’s how to make it.

First, make the cake. I used a coffee cake base, mainly because it sliced and shaped so nicely when I made the cuneiform tablet:

Ingredients:

75g caster sugar
75g unsalted butter (softened)
2 small eggs
75g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons espresso
Method:

Preheat the oven to 160°C, and line a square brownie tin with greaseproof paper.
Cream together the butter and sugar, whisk the eggs in a separate bowl and add slowly to the butter and sugar mixture.
Sift in the flour and baking powder, and gently fold into the mixture.
Add the espresso, and pour into the brownie tin.
Bake for 30 minutes, and allow to cool.

Then, do it all over again. You’ll need two of these.

While the cakes are cooling, temper 400g of white chocolate. I always use this as a guide, because I can never remember the temperatures needed:

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/how-temper-chocolate

Lay out a sheet of greaseproof paper, weighing down the corners so it lies flat. Use a large palette knife to spread out a thin sheet of the chocolate, and leave it to set. Fill a piping bag with the remainder of the chocolate, and pipe circles for the counters. I discovered a tube of tiny, edible, silver stars when I was trying to find my piping bags, so I put them on my counters. It is possible this is because it was around midnight when I was doing this, and I was loosing my grip on reality. Or, alternatively, game counters just look better when covered in tiny silver stars.

Using a template, cut the cake into the shape of the board game. Give it a very, very thin coat of coffee buttercream, and put it in the fridge.

Once the sheet of chocolate has set, cut out the ‘inlay’ squares, and the edging. Paint the remainder of the white chocolate sheet blue with edible blue paint. Using a toothpick and black, red and blue icing, draw the patterns onto the ‘inlay’ squares and the edging.

Next, make black buttercream. This will involve putting far more food colouring in than feels healthy or right. But the packet assured me that it was ok. Coat the cake, making sure the corners are sharp. The underlying, thin coat of buttercream should act as a crumb coat, and mean you don’t have to put on too much of the food colouring heavy black icing.

Finally, place the inlay squares into the icing, and add the edging. Cut out pieces of the now-blue white chocolate sheet to act as the lapis lazuli fill.

And it’s finished. But the best part of this cake is that if you want the procrastination to continue, you can play it.

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Winner eats the cake. Loser has to clean the kitchen.