Friday, 18 January 2008

Mr Fish

I thought I’d document this cake too because I was quite pleased with how he turned out and will no doubt want to make it again in the future. This was a birthday cake for my friend, Amita, who loves fish! The innards of the fish is a caramel mudcake, and his outside is green meringue icing, licorice, sour straps and a chocolate eye.

The caramel mudcake recipe comes from Women's Weekly 'Cafe Cakes' (p. 46). I have tried several caramel mudcake recipes, but this one is the perfect density for a mudcake and isn’t overly sweet or sickly.

Whenever I’m making birthday cakes, I like to make them at least 2 days in advance and store it in an airtight container in the fridge. This means that if I bugger it up I have time to make another one, and more importantly it’s easier to cut and carve without it crumbling (a problem even with mudcakes!).

I prefer to make meringue icing because, again, it’s not as sweet as butter icing (despite what its name might suggest) and it also holds its shape better.

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 185 g butter, chopped
  • 150 g white chocolate, chopped coarsely
  • 200 g firmly brown sugar
  • 80 ml golden syrup
  • 250 ml whole milk
  • 25 g plain flour
  • 75 g self raising flour
  • 2 eggs

You’ll also need a 9” baking tin, lined with paper and a 2” collar and a good, sharp knife.

The icing:

  • 220 g castor sugar
  • 4 egg whites
  • 330 g butter at room temperature, chopped into about 12 pieces
  • Blue and green food dye

Making the cake

  • Preheat oven to 160C, fan forced (moderately slow oven, I usually need to set mine to 150C).
  • Line the base and sides of your 9” baking tin with baking paper, with a 2” collar.
  • Combine butter, chocolate, sugar, golden syrup and milk in a medium saucepan, stir over low heat without boiling, until it’s smooth. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and allow to cool for at least 15 mins. I usually leave it for about 30 mins because the mixture is still way hot after 15.
  • Whisk in sifted flours, then eggs, one at a time.Pour mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 1.5 hours. If still not cooked, keep checking every 10 minutes until done.
  • Allow to cool completely in the pan (this increases the density and keeps the moisture in the cake).
  • Turn onto cake rack.Wrapped in a layer of cling wrap, baking paper and foil, and place in the freezer. This cake can be kept in the fridge in an air tight container for up to three weeks.

I’ve never really had much problem with this particular mudcake say, rising in the centre, but if it has happened, just cut that bump off (it means you get to pre-sample the cake too!).
Turn the cake upside down, so the bottom of the cake – the flat side – is face up. This is a good, crumb free work surface to work with.

Cut the cake as below:

Transfer the cake to your mounting board and brush away any crumbs. Place a few strips of greaseproof paper underneath the cake. If you make a mess with your icing it means you can slide it out later without messing up your board.
Attach the other tail fin using a toothpick or shortened bamboo skewer.

Making the icing:

I should give you forewarning and say that this icing can be very strange. Sometimes it whips up in no time, and I think, depending on the weather, it takes ages to beat at other times. I’ll be standing there beating away, wondering whether I measured something wrong and debating whether to take action, and then a few minutes later it’ll suddenly fluff up. If it’s not fluffing up, don’t lose faith, just keep beating! It will eventually work!

  • Place the egg whites and castor sugar in a bowl and dissolve sugar into the whites on the stove over a saucepan of water, making sure the bowl does not touch the bottom of the pan and that the egg whites do not cook!
  • Beat the egg whites and sugar until they form stiff peaks (5-10 mins)
  • Gradually add the butter one piece at a time, beating after each addition. It will take until the last few pieces are added before the mixture will really start to fluff up. Add a few drops of blue and green food dye, or whatever colour you’re making, until you’re happy.


  • Smother the cake with icing, using a long metal spatula, or a butter knife works just as well. To get it nice and smooth, dunk your spatula in hot water.
  • Cover your cake with the scales. I started from the tail and worked back.
    For the tail fin and dorsal fin, I simply used strips of the sour strap, cut to the shape of the fin.
  • His little swimming fin (I can’t remember what that’s called) is just an oval shaped sour strap, about 5cm long. I just placed it on top of the scales. It’s not secured.
  • His eye I made by melting a small amount of dark chocolate and dotting it onto a white chocolate melt with the end of a chopstick.
  • His mouth is lined with wide licorice straps.

And you're done!


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Indeed it is a beautiful design, last month for my kid birthday my wife made him a Garfield shaped cake.

Medical Blog said...

I like to make them at least 2 days
in advance and store it in an
airtight container in the fridge.

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I love that mister fish cake, eat it is almost a sin anyway congratulation you are a great chef!

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