After a week of planning and indecision, I tackled the Loch Ness monster cake on Sunday. It definitely took me a lot longer to complete than I’d originally thought! However I think the result is kinda cool.
I found my base cake recipe and did my ingredient shopping on Friday night, but afterwards realised that I’d neglected to plan what I was going to do for the actual Loch Ness monster part of the cake! Whoops. This meant I had to make another quick trip to the shop on Saturday to pick up some final ingredients.
I also visited my favourite Canberra baking supply store, Cooking Coordinates at the Belconnen Markets, but they didn’t have a sheet pan in the size I wanted. Also they are a LOT more expensive than Cake Decorating Solutions the online shop I’ve been using lately. They had a Fat Daddio 7×11-inch rectangle cake tin for $39 at Cooking Coordinates, but at CDS it’s only $21.95. So even when you add shipping, CDS is still a better deal. (Actually in hindsight, it’s probably a good thing I couldn’t buy a nice, big sheet pan. I don’t know enough people to have eaten a cake that size!)
For the base, I ended up making two Nigella Lawson Devil’s Food Cakes using my 8-inch square cake tin. The recipe says to use two 20cm sandwich tins, so I thought that I’d be able to combine it into one 8-inch square tin and it would be tall enough to torte, but no go. It was only about 4cm high after removing the dome! Although I think I under-creamed the butter and sugar, so perhaps it should have been taller. Once I realised how short the cake was, I had to rush to get another in the oven.
For the Loch Ness monster, I halved this orange cake recipe and used three 4-inch round springform tins. I only actually ended up using two of the cakes, but I didn’t want to waste any of the batter so I made three. The first round was cut almost in half to form the Nessie body, then I used a small circle cutter to cut a small dent into the straight edge so that the final shape was like half a ring. I used the leftovers from the first round to make a tail, and used the second round to make a head/neck.
For the icing, I made up a one-and-a-half lot of German buttercream (recipe below). What makes this buttercream German I have no idea… I tried to Google “German buttercream” with little success. It’s a recipe I got off the instructor of the cake decorating course I was doing earlier this month. I trimmed and sandwiched the two devil’s food cakes together with the buttercream, then dyed the remainder with royal blue Wilton paste. I tried for a smooth finish on the square cake with mixed results… I just can’t get my buttercream to be perfectly smooth! The flat surfaces are generally okay, but what do you do about the edges? And what about the corners?! I put some royal blue piping gel on the top to make a water-like surface, but I didn’t have enough piping gel for it to look really cool. I also think my buttercream should have been more pale blue than the greenish-blue shade I got from adding the blue dye to yellowish buttercream. But anyway. The end result looked pretty neat.
For the Loch Ness Monster itself, I iced it with a light layer of buttercream and covered it with chocolate clay scales. Chocolate clay is an alternative to fondant, and I have to say that I’m definitely going to continue using it over fondant. It hardens much faster than fondant and actually tastes good! Making the scales was actually quite a lot of work. I dyed the chocolate clay green, then rolled it out as thinly as it would go (which was about 5mm thick). I used a small circle cutter to cut out the scales, but they were still too thick to lay on top of each other. It took me awhile to realise that I had to flatten each one with my fingers before putting it on the cake. Blergh. It was slow, but I got a little faster as I went along. Practice makes perfect I guess.
275g icing sugar
2 1/2 eggs
25ml vanilla essence
Cream the butter and sugar together for around 10 minutes until very pale and it has the consistency of whipped cream
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping the bowl down between additions
Add the vanilla and beat for another few minutes
White Chocolate Clay
454g white chocolate
1/2 cup light corn syrup (liquid glucose)
Melt chocolate in a microwave or double boiler
When smooth, stir in corn syrup and mix the chocolate forms a ball. Spread the chocolate with a spatula onto waxed paper to 2cm thickness. Leave uncovered for about 2 hours.
When ready to use, break off the desired amount and knead until pliable. You can also microwave it for 3-7 seconds to soften it up before using. The chocolate can also be coloured at this stage by kneading the colour into the chocolate until all the chocolate is a single colour.
Note: this chocolate clay can be made using milk or dark chocolate, but the ratio of glucose to chocolate changes depending on the type of chocolate. For dark chocolate, use 2/3 cup of glucose to 454g dark chocolate.