Time for a bit of fun! I just could not resist this for my Whovian husband's (WH) birthday - when friends got a Dalek cake mould and said I could borrow it, it had to be done. I did a bit of Googling to see what I was up against, found a couple of blog posts, and Operation Secret Dalek Cake was on (hat tip to the second of those for the blog post title...)
Now, I'm the first to admit that a detailed silicone cake mould is not exactly the stuff of Great British Bake Off dreams, but with a 9 month old in tow, practicality wins every time. For the same reason, I was not planning to go all-out on decoration either! I'd seen my friends' results and hoped that the cake mould would give me a recognisable chunk of sponge that was also edible, and anything else would be a bonus.
Right. WH went to work, Small went down for a nap, and with the possibility of only 40 minutes to get the beast into the oven, I rolled into cake baking action and turned on the oven at 180°C then greased the cake mould liberally with butter using a pastry brush. The back of the cake mould box said to use an 8-egg sponge mix so I turned to my much-used Hannah Miles book and chose a 4-egg mix to double. The quantities were: 2 x (4 eggs + 225g each of butter, sugar, self raising flour) - a pretty consistent ratio in her book.
Rather than struggle with a massive bowl of mixture, I decided to make two separate mixtures (mint and chocolate) and create a marbled Dalek, so prepped two mixing bowls with butter and sugar, cracked and beat two lots of eggs, and weighed out and sieved two amounts of flour. I then replaced 2 tbsp of one lot of flour with about 4 tbsp of cocoa, or maybe more - there was only a smidge left in the tub after that so I chucked it all in :)
The method was the usual creaming method - beat the butter and sugar to pale creamy fluffiness, add eggs gradually, then fold in flour. For the mint sponge I added green colouring and mint flavour to the butter/sugar mix with the eggs, so I could blend them in evenly before carefully folding in the flour.
I then had a brainwave and decided to use an icing bag to pipe some of the mint sponge into the details on the cake mould. This is where I fail any kind of Whoviometer test, and say the mint batter went into the blobs, the ears, and the grille bits on the head. Geeks, please correct me in the comments. (I do know the flashing things are not ears, but you knew what I meant :) It went in fairly well, and stayed, but I then found I had to spread chocolate sponge mix up the sides of the mold behind the details, which was trickier. Of course, the mixture doesn't fill the mould before baking, but rises up in the oven, so if you decide to try this method then focus on the details that are lowest in the mould and let the top ones take care of themselves - they'll be at the back/bottom of the finished cake, depending whether you let it stand or lie. I finished off by scooping the rest of the mint sponge into the centre of the mould, and tried to make an indentation with the spoon to allow for more rising at the centre of the cake.
The big unknown was the baking time. After much skewer testing, it seemed to be done, taking 40 mins at 180°C plus another 40-50 turned down to 150°C (fan oven) when I was worried about it burning on the outside before the inside was baked. Although I'd made an indentation over the fattest bit it still rose too much there at the expense of elsewhere. So my Dalek had a fat arse and I was forced to cut that bit off and eat it for quality control. Shame... I heeded the various warnings and let the cake cool completely before trying to turn it out, and it came out like a dream. A slightly greasy, crispy-at-the-corners dream, but hey.
The idea of piping the second cake mix into the blobs and other bits kind of worked - the head bits were good and the blobs less so, as it looks like it oozed down before it baked. I'm 50/50 as to whether it was worth it, especially as the cake baked so long they are just slightly different shades of brown! However, the green came out well when cut.
With the cake cool, it was time to decorate during afternoon nap time. No time for fancy fondant and complicated marzipan here! I brushed on blue lustre powder to highlight the low-contrast minty details. Lurking in the cupboard I also had chocolate icing in a tube, so added some freestyle detailing with that. The 'ears' had shrunk to tiny crispy blobs, during baking, so I augmented those with icing. The weapony bits (sorry...) are all made from tinfoil and toothpicks, augmented with a sharpie pen, black writing icing (since I already had some of that too), and a solitary blue mini Smartie. I had to buy a Smartie-filled chocolate Hallowe'en pumpkin to get the one blue one, and was then stuck with chocolate I didn't need for the cake. Another shame...
With only about half an hour to go before WH was due home, I took the cake upstairs and hid it in a big box with a 'keep out' sign on it. It worked :) The big reveal was done at work after I took the cake in as a surprise tea-break delivery, and the cake seemed to go down very well with the assembled company of geeks. It was even done in the middle. Hurrah!
All in all, a fun and interesting adventure in cake making, although it would be more fun without the time pressure and surprise element! Hopefully the above may be useful to someone else as well as jogging my memory if there is a next time. If you find any of the info helpful, please leave a comment!