Introduction: Off With Their Heads (Cheshire)!!! Cake
Hi everyone!! I'm Vicky!! A few days ago my sister showed me the Deceptive Desserts contest, and since I love baking and I had some new tools to try out, it gave me the perfect excuse and timing to start baking again!!
I've always loved tales, but Alice's adventures in Wonderland has always had a special place on my heart since the day I discovered it. I don't know if it's because everything seems possible there, with talking and disappearing cats, an everlasting tea time, or the Hookah-Smoking Caterpillar, it just seemed like my dreamed fantasyland.
So this cake may seem a regular cake....but it's not! As a tale, it tells a story... The queen of hearts has gone mad, and has started to cut everyone's head!! Off with their heads!!! Not even The Cheshire cat has escaped his madness, she killed everyone, and turned him into a cake! An insanely sweet and delicious cake, that bleeds to the axe's touch. So, if you like the cake and its creepy story, this is how I made it!!
Step 1: Step 1: the Cheshire Cake
So, first things first; if we want the Cheshire cat cake, we should start making the batter!! It's a super sweet recipe, so if you are not a "sugar fan" you may wish to adjust the sugar amount this recipe has.
- 300g all purpose flour
- 6 egg whites (pasteurized or powder, but if you use powder you have tho restitute them first)
- Vinegar or a pinch of cream of tartar
- 400g white sugar or icing sugar, the one that you prefer.
- 15 g (1 pack) of baking powder
- Red/ pink food colouring
- Blue/ Purple food colouring
-OPTIONAL: flavouring of choice
*you will also need a whisk, a couple medium sized bowls and a circular cake mold.
For the preparation procedure:
1. Preheat the oven at 180ºC (Aprox. 360F) with fan.
2. Start placing the egg whites and a little bit of vinegar/cream of tartar in a bowl, and with an an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, and whisk on a low speed for 1 minute, then increase the speed to medium and whisk until the egg whites form stiff peaks; the vinegar and cream of tartar help stabilizing the egg whites so if you don't want to add these to the recipe it's okay, but if you do, they will help a lot.
3. When the mixture looks fluffy, start adding the sugar gradually, a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture gets stiff and glossy, like a mixture between the meringue consistency and royal icing consistency. If you have some flavouring, you will add it to the mixture now.
4. In another bowl mix the flour with the baking powder, and once it's well blended, add a tablespoon at a time to the egg whites mixture, making sure there is still some remaining volume in the batter. Combine everything until the mixture is homogeneous.
5. Divide the batter in half, and pour one half in the other bowl, because now it's time to add the colour. If you have pink and purple, just dye each bowl with one colour, and if you have red and blue, use a tiny bit of red for the "pink batter", and a mixture on red and blue to create the "purple batter".
6. Prepare a circular cake mold, of about 25 cm diameter, with butter to make it "non-adherent". Now the fun part starts. Using a big spoon, start placing 1 spoon of the purple batter in the center of the mold; then, take one spoon of the pink batter and pour it OVER the purple one, also in the center of the cake mold, so the two colours look like 2 concentric circles. Repeat this procedure, spoon by spoon, until you finish with both bowls of cake batter. This will get you a zebra effect cake, which is supercool because it will simulate the stripes that the Cheshire cat has on its fur.
7. Now it's time to put our cake into the oven!!! bake it at least for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, if it does not come out clean, add 10 minutes more until the cake is baked. I know that some ovens might be tricky with the baking time, so check it with the toothpick until it's perfectly cooked.
8. Once the cake is out the oven, place it in a wire rack for 5 minutes; then run a knife around the edge of the pan and turn the cake out onto the racks to cool completely. Is very important that you let it cool completely.
9. Once it's completely cold you can shape it; I decided to go with a flat domed cake, which is great for the final design, but you can totally trim any excess of cake until you get your desired shape.
Step 2: Step 2: Filling and Icing the Cake
Once the cake has cooled completely, we will fill it and cover it with buttercream. Since the cake is very colorful itself, I decided to make the buttercream pretty simple in terms of colour.
-300g Butter at room temperature
-200-300g icing sugar
-Food colouring: blue
-OPTIONAL: flavouring of choice
For the preparation procedure:
1. In large or medium bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer until it gets light and fluffy.
2.Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until it reaches your desired hardness and it's fully incorporated . If you have a flavouring, you can add it now (better if it's in "paste form").
3. If the buttercream is too thick now to cover the cake, you can thin it adding 1 tablespoon of milk at a time into the mixture and combine until you get the desired consistency.
4.Once you get there, split the buttercream in half and dye one half with blue (until a teal blue is achieved), and let the other half with its natural colour. Put your buttercream into 2 disposable piping bags. Now we will start the filling and covering process.
5. Cut the cake by half horizontally, so you will get the 2 layers of your cake. You can paint the inside of the cake with a little bit of jam (I did this just in the center of the cake)
6. With the natural non-coloured buttercream, we will fill the cake, spreading the buttercream with a spatula until reaching our desired filling thickness, and then we will place the other layer of the cake on top.
7. With this same buttercream, we will cover the cake completely, making sure all its surface has a layer or 2 of buttercream, to smooth all the edges. We will put it into the fridge for 15 minutes.
8. Once the natural coloured buttercream is set, apply the blue tinted buttercream just on the sides of the cake. Put it back in the fridge for 10 minutes, and then apply a second layer on the sides and on the "domed surface", letting the flat top with the natural coloured buttercream (see photos).
9. Place it in the fridge for 30 minutes
Step 3: Step 3: Making the Flowers
While the cake is in the fridge chilling, we will start making the flowers. If you have some leftover natural coloured buttercream from the previous step, you can use it now (take it out the piping bag first). If not, just use the previous recipe (step 2) and make some more; this buttercream will be more hard than the previous one, so keep that in mind.
I used the following food dyes to get the colour:
- Green (darkg and light greeb buttercream)
This procedure is very simple: Place a nozzle and fill 4 piping bags with the buttercream following this directions:
- For the purple and blue flowers: "paint" the inside walls of the piping bag with purple buttercream; fill the rest of the piping bag with the blue buttercream; this will make more realistic flowers because they will be 2 toned.
- For the purple and pink flowers: "paint" the inside walls of the piping bag with purple buttercream; fill the rest of the piping bag with the pink buttercream.
- For the yellow and orange flowers: "paint" the inside walls of the piping bag with orange buttercream; fill the rest of the piping bag with the yellow buttercream.
- For the green leafs: "paint" the inside walls of the piping bag with a dark green buttercream; fill the rest of the piping bag with the lightest green buttercream. We will keep this aside, since we will use it when we start assembling the cake.
To make this flowers I used a set of Russian Nozzles (PHOTO) that I bought a while ago, you can get them online easily. They make the procedure of making flowers super easy and quick: just put the nozzle in your bag as usually, fill it and squeeze like you would do with any other nozzle; because of the shape of this Russian nozzles, flowers are automatically made!!!
1. Place a parchment paper on a flat surface and star piping the flowers; i find is better to make them separately and then place them on the cake one by one, it's cleaner and easier this way.
2. Put them in the fridge to harden, at least 30 minutes. We will use this time to make our sculpting work.
Step 4: Step 4: the Hookah-Smoking Caterpillar, the Heart Shaped Axe, Toadstools and the Cat's Tail
We will now create our characters for the cake. For this we will use the following materials:
- Cat tail: Pink and purple fondant
- Toadstools: Red and white fondant
- The Hookah-Smoking Caterpillar: Blue fondant (light and dark blue), white, black and pink fondant. For the Hookah we will need brown fondant, bronze and gold edible pigment.
- Heart shaped axe: Grey and brown fondant, and silver edible pigment.
To assemble everything I used toothpicks but you can also use raw spaghetti or something similar. I also used some CMC in order to get the fondant hard faster.
The Hookah-Smoking Caterpillar
1. First of all, you should get a picture of the caterpillar that you will use as a guide. Once you have that, start making a cylinder with the dark blue fondant and another with the light blue fondant. Cut a section of 2,5 cm (about 1 inch) that we will use for the head. Start shaping the body, simulating the caterpillar body sections (making the edges rounded).
2. With the pink fondant, make tiny fondant conic shapes that we will use to make it's legs (make 1 pair per section of the caterpillar body as shown in the photo). Attach them to the caterpillar body.
3. Bend the caterpillar body, and hold that shape until the fondant hardens and dries. Now you have the body completed.
4. With the 2,5cm section we cut before we will start shaping the head. For this we will start adding small pieces of dark blue fondant for the "toupee" and a small pice of light blue fondant for his cheeks and nose. With a sculpting tool we should shape them according to the guide picture, as well as it's mouth (see the pictures, I made my sister hold the head while I was taking the photo in order for you to see the final result).
5. With the white and black fondant shape the eyes and glue them (with water) to the caterpillar head. Repeat the process with his brows (2 pointy black fondant cylinders). Once the head is done we will let it harden with the body.
6. For its Hookah, roll 3 balls of brown fondant. Flatten 2 of them and shape the other one as a cone, and then glue them together. Roll a small piece of brown fondant as a small pointy cylinder, and shape like an "S"; attach it to the Hookah body, and paint it with the bronze edible pigment. Paint the top and the base of the Hookah with the gold pigment, and let it dry and harden.
The Cheshire cat tail
1. Roll 2 cylinders of purple and pink fondant. Cut them into tiny sections, and glue them alternatively: 1 pink, 1 purple, 1 pink ,1 purple, saving the "bigger sections for the end of the tail. Roll the assemblage into an homogeneous cylinder and let it dry a bit.
1. Roll a white fondant cylinder; it has to be wide and short, with the top and the bottom flattened. This will be the toadstool "foot". Make 1 for each toadstool you will use in the cake.
2. With red fondant roll a big ball and cut it in half to make the toadstool head. Smooth the edges of 1 half and let it start dry. Roll super tiny white fondant balls and glue them to the toadstool head. Repeat the process fore every toadstool you will want to make.
3. Roll some more white fondant and flatten it until a 2mm width. Cut a circular piece and with a sculpting tool (photo) make some lines. This will go under the toadstool head, so once it's done, glue it to the red fondant piece we made earlier.
4. Insert a toothpick into the toadstool"foot" and attach the head on the top, glue it with water for a better hold.
The heart shaped axe
Since the queen of hearts is the mad one, the axe had to be a heart shaped one as well.
1. With grey fondant, we will make a layer of 3mm of width, and then we will cut a piece with the shape of a heart.
2. With a rolling pin we will flatten the "sharp" edge of the axe, and we will paint this platened and thinned edge with silver edible pigment.
3. Roll a cylinder of brown fondant, and place some toothpicks inside him to make it more stable. Make a small cut on the top edge, and place the heart shaped blade in it. Glue it with water, and with some more toothpicks give it some more stability. Let it dry and harden.
Step 5: Step 5: Assembling the Cake!
This is the best part!! I had a lot of fun assembling this cake, it looked so colorful, like it just came out of wonderland!!
So the assembling steps are the following (I used toothpicks to attach everything to the cake):
1. Place the toadstools on the top-flat part of the cake. I made 2 of them, so, if you do this, put them together, since it represents that the Caterpillar head falls from the bigger toadstool to the smallest one.
2. Attach the Cheshire cat tail to the side of the cake with a toothpick, and then bend it until it rests on the flat-top of the cake (see the photos as reference)
3. Place the caterpillar body laying on its side on top of the tallest toadstool, and do the same with its head: place it laying on its side on the smallest toadstool.
4. Place the Caterpillar Hookah on the biggest toadstool, next to the caterpillar body, and attach it with a toothpick and water.
5. Now that we placed this figures, we will grab the blue buttercream we set aside before (the one that we used to cover the sides of the cake). We will decorate the sides of the cake with it and with a beautiful piping nozzle, making some filigrees or whatever comes to your mind.
6. Now it's time to transfer our beautiful flowers!!! So we will take them out of the fridge, and with the help of a flat spatula we will remove them, one by one, from the parchment paper and we will place them on the "domed/inclined" part of the cake (see photos).
7. With the green buttercream we set aside before, we will pipe some leaves (so we will use the correct piping nozzle). In order to get the best result, we will pie them between the flowers, at the bottom of the toadstools and around the cat tail. I attached a lot of photos so you can see how it looks reached this point.
Step 6: Step 6: Blood and Final Touches
Since the caterpillar's head has been cut, it should bleed, as well as the cake itself since we will stab it with our heart shaped axe. For this I used some melted sugar following this recipe:
- 200g White sugar
- 60ml water
1. Place the sugar and the water in a small saucepan and stir it until all the sugar is disolved
2. Wait until the heat makes the sugar and the water combine, and when it starts to get a golden colour, remove it from the heat.
3. Split this sugar mixture into 5; I tinted them of 5 diferent colours (see photos) in order to have some freedom to choose. You can just split it in half and tint 1 half blue, and 1 half purple-burgundy.
4. Let it cool completely. You will see that this sugar mixture doesn't hardens completely, and that it has some plasticity; that is perfect to make the blood pools, and to give the "blood" that gloopy texture that we want.
For the assembling:
5. With a sculpting tool (they are small enough) take some of the blue blood and paint the "neck" of the caterpillar, making sure to get everything a little messy. I also put some of the blood inside its mouth, to give a more dramatic effect. I like how it drips from the toadstool to the cake.
6. With another sculpting tool repeat the process with our purple-burgundy blood, and make a heart shaped blood pool on the center if the cake. Now we will stab the cake with our heart shaped axe, so place it in the middle of the cake, pushing a bit, until it doesn't move; I did not use any toothpicks for this but if you have some difficulties attaching it to the cake, feel free to use them.
7. Since the Cheshire cat is magical, its blood also is, so I sprinkled a little bit of edible glitter on the blood pool.
8. Cut the cake and enjoy!!! :D (I attached a pic of how it looks inside *_*
* I made 2 diferent axes, but I changed the first one for the one that you see in the final pictures; the first one was too big, so its all about trial and error!
And Now You are done!! Curioseur and curioseur, you have your cat cake made! I hope you liked this tutorial and feel free to ask if you have any doubts! I've had a lot of fun making this project and I will do more things in the future!!!