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.

ur-excavations-volume-ii-the-royal-cemetery-a-report-on-the-predynastic-and-sa-59804-16114-p[ekm]305x243[ekm]

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

Cuneiform tablet coffee cake

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I’ve been thinking for a while now that a cuneiform tablet cake would be fairly easy to make (typing that sentence makes me wonder if I shouldn’t find better things to think about). Now, when I was making the cakes I realised at the last moment that my stylus (chopstick…) was the wrong shape to make the cuneiform wedges. The cakes are therefore modelled on earlier, Uruk IV period tablets. Specifically, the two below.

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The cakes are far from perfect. I clearly went too far with the modelling, so the larger tablet is a bit misshapen. I’ll certainly be coming back to this to try and make one that has a better shape, and actual cuneiform on it.

If you have nothing better to do, here follows the recipe:

First, make the coffee cake:

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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

While the cake is baking and cooling, make a coffee buttercream by creaming together 50g of butter with 100g of icing sugar, a splash of milk and a splash of espresso. Make a template in the shape of the tablet you want to create, and once the cake is cooled, use the template to cut out two identical pieces of cake. Sandwich them together and crumb coat with the buttercream (it’s generally a good idea to put it on the cake board before the crumb coat). Put the cake in the fridge for at least an hour.

Remove from the fridge and use a serrated knife to model the cake into the 3D shape of the tablet. Give it a second crumb coat for good measure, and put it back in the fridge.

Next, make the fondant. The recipe I always use for my fondant is this one:

http://www.lindyscakes.co.uk/2009/04/18/how-do-i-make-sugarpaste/

You’ll only need half quantities, and, to make it a coffee fondant (in order to give it the appetising brown colour of clay), substitute the water with cold espresso. Roll out the fondant on a surface that you’ve heavily dusted with icing sugar, and cover the cake. Once it’s covered, use a stylus to write the signs in the fondant (I found the end of a paintbrush worked well enough, but all you really need is for it to be rounded).

Then, realise you have wasted a good few hours on this utterly pointless task, and retreat from the kitchen with a bowl of cake offcuts mixed with leftover icing, wondering if anyone will accept ‘making a cuneiform tablet cake’ as an excuse for not doing any actual work.

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Up next – Max Marsh-mallowan’s eye idols (I wish I was joking).