Thursday, 3 August 2017

3D Teddy Bear Cake! Part I: Designing, and Baking the Cakes

For the first time since 2013, I had made a novelty 3D shaped cake! It's been a whole four years, but I present to you Novelty Cake № 2: Panda Bear!

Being a bitter cynic, I generally don't like novelty cakes: I feel like they're cheap tricks in comparison to a perfectly crafted, technically challenging traditional gâteau. However, that doesn't mean that others don't like them, or appreciate them, or enjoy receiving them as gifts.

For the past few years, I've been making the same kinds of cakes for my sister and this year I was motivated to do something completely different for her, and also to do another novelty cake for all my lovely readers! (Seeing as the Dinnersaurus is the most read post on my blog.)

This one was a serious challenge, and took pretty much two days to make it from scratch from cake mixture to finished cake model. And in this two part post, I'll explain the process from start to finish how I did it!

Once I decided to do the 3D cake, I researched how people had already made it. So, I looked at many videos online, from this sped up version using multiple 6 inch (16 centimetre) cakes which are then trimmed and shaped, Ann Reardon's version using different shapes of cake on How To Cook That, and I even watched a German video from Nicoles Zuckerwerk

Most 3D teddy recipes use cake truffles to make the arms, legs, ears, and tail, but I didn't want to do that because I thought it would be too sickly. I decided that I would make as many aspects of the bear out of cake, and only resort to fondant if absolutely necessary.

I also researched what teddy bears look like when sitting down by turning to my very helpful model: Val. He was bought for me by my companion for Valentine's Day, and he's a lovely. My companion helped me visualise some aspects of the bear model, but mostly it's pretty straightforward.

Tin Shapes and Sizes
Instead of making a load of layers of round cake and cutting to size, thus wasting a lot of cake, I thought about how I could make cakes that are as close to the actual bear component shapes as possible. I originally contemplated getting a terracotta pot that would make a conical cake, but thought against it once I realised how much preparation a terracotta pot needs to be used for baking.

I decided to use traditional round cakes, and cakes cooked in a small Pyrex baking dish. I used one tall 4 inch (10 centimetre)  round tin, a 7x2 inch (16x5 centimetre) Pyrex pudding dish, and an 8 inch (20 centimetre) round sandwich tin.

Baking the Cakes
The issue with novelty cakes is that they need a good, firm, dry cake that's easily cut and moulded. This means the cake keeps its shape, but it's not—in my opinion—the nicest cake to eat. If you like, throughout assembly you can sprinkle the cakes with a nice simple syrup to keep them moist.

Round 1
In round one, I made a cake mixture by creaming together 4 ounces (115 grammes) soft butter and 3 ounces (85 grammes) caster sugar, until light and fluffy. In a small cup, I beat 4 egg yolks with 2 fluid ounces (60 millilitres) room temperature milk, and gradually beat it into the butter mixture in 4 increments, beating very well after each addition. Onto a sheet of baking paper, I sifted 7½ (210 grammes) ounces of white spelt flour, ½ ounce (15 grammes) of cocoa powder, and 2 teaspoons (10 millilitres) of baking powder. In a separate bowl, I whipped the 4 egg whites with another 3 ounces (85 grammes) of caster sugar until it reached stiff peaks. I added half of this to the butter mixture, along with half of the dry ingredients. I mixed this through halfway, then added the remaining half of the whites and dry ingredients. I then finally folded it through carefully but thoroughly until there were no streaks of egg white or flour left.

I divided this mixture between the 4 inch (10 centimetre) tin, and the 7 inch (16 centimetre) dish, making sure to fill each one no more than three-quarters full; the tin will need less mixture than the dish. I baked them in an oven preheated to 180°C (350°F, Gas Mk.3) for 25 to 30 minutes-ish, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of each cake came out clean. I took the smaller cake out about 2 or 3 minutes earlier than the larger one.

Round 2
Once the cakes were cooked, I made the same amount of mixture again, but with half the amount of baking powder. I needed the first lot to have big domes, because they come in handy later. I divided the mixture once again, but this time equally between the Pyrex dish and the sandwich tin.

I then allowed all the cakes to cool completely before assembly.

Making the Icing
Similarly with the icing, you need a good thick, rich icing that sets firm. This helps you with any trimming you might need to do, and helps keep the overall shape in place.

To make the icing, I melted 1 pound (445 grammes) of plain chocolate, half a pound (225 grammes) of unsalted butter, and 4 fluid ounces (120 millilitres) of whole milk together. I allowed them to set to room temperature (about an hour), then beat in 1 pound (445 grammes) of icing sugar to make a rich, thick, decadent chocolate icing. If you find the icing begins to set in the bowl while you're working on the cake, just give it the odd whisk every now and again.

Now we've made the cakes and the icing, it's time to assemble! Click here to see Part II of this tutorial, which includes fully colour coordinated diagrams!

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