Friday, 7 November 2014

Tricky treat

Tasty, tasty Martians
By: Mrs Robot

When I first moved onto the publication I worked for, it was near Halloween, and I made a cake. Last year our holiday to Burma was quite late and I was ill when we got back, so there was no cake. This year, I decided, I'd do something special. Over the summer it had occurred to me to make a sea creature cake, but as the day drew close I kept the overall idea of tentacles but changed everything else. I was going to make Mars, complete with Martians poking out of craters (I know, I know, Mars has canals not craters!) and a three-legged walker.

The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one, eh?

My fallback cake is the Sunday Best Chocolate Fudge Cake from Mary Berry's Ultimate Cake Book. It always goes down an absolute storm. However, I didn't want to do that yet again. As a variation I made two cake mixtures, a chocolate one and an orange one, and marbled them together. They planned to sandwich them with chocolate fudge icing and the cover the whole thing in orange-flavoured buttercream, dyed a deeper colour to make the surface of the red planet.

The cake worked perfectly, and the fudge filling is always reliable. Before covering the cake roughly with the orange icing, I made two rings of orange fondant to support the craters. After that, I dotted it with extra red food colouring (applied with the dryish tips of a pastry brush) and sprinkled over metallic 'rocks'. I got those in a tub in Tesco.

How could you resist that little face?
Halloween is the only time I make decorated cakes, so although I'm pretty good with my hands, I'm not great at making edible decorations. I hadn't been sure whether to make the rest of the decorations with fondant or marzipan, but the fondant went really sloppy when I made the craters, so I went for marzipan for the rest of the decorations. The tentacles were easy: roll a sausage from green marzipan, make it thinner at one end, then make graduated balls of red marzipan and press them into shape on the tentacle with a cake decorator's ball tool.

The walker was a disaster. I'd planned to make three legs, supported internally with cocktail sticks, then put a saucer on top. All would be made of grey fondant sprayed with edible iridescence. It just didn't work. The pieces had too much texture to look like real metal but not enough detail to be interesting, and they didn't hold together well. On top of that, next to the tentacles it just looked inty and puny. In the end I made extra tentacles. Something was missing though... there was a gaping hole at the centre of the tentacles... Eyeballs! And, you know, once I'd made a couple of marzipan eyeballs and added those, it all looked fine.

That's foiled your plans for global domination!
The workmates seemed to enjoy the cake, though there was a little to bring home. I would say that was a shame, but it kept Mr Robot happy. And I really loved sharing it with everyone and seeing their reactions. I love Halloween!

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