At some point yesterday I had an existential crisis. “I don’t even know who I am any more,” I found myself thinking. “Where has the old me gone?”
The old me, who swore she only made round birthday cakes with icing in the middle and on top, and possibly a shake of sprinkles. The me who didn’t do fancy themed parties. The me who scorned such things.
And yet, here I was carving out Yoda ears from a layer of sponge cake and writing names on Jedi training certificates and carefully placing sprinkles with a tweezers. I hang my head. Not only that, I was doing it all for the second year running. So I can’t call last year a fluke any more. Apparently this is the person I have become. I’m sorry, everyone.
Dash will turn seven on Wednesday, and we had his party yesterday, because when you have a midweek birthday you get to choose which weekend you want, and any child worth his salt will obviously choose the prior one. He asked for another Star Wars party, just like last year, and in a fit of enthusiasm, I suppose because that meant I had everything else all figured out already, I said, “I can make a Yoda cake.”
Right then. One Yoda cake. It turned out to be much less stressful than last year’s light saber cake, mostly because I didn’t bother looking for the organic food colouring and because pale green is much easier to pull off in buttercream than bright red. And just in case you want to make a home-baked, non-professional- style Yoda cake for your own six- or seven- or thirty-seven-year-old, this is what I did.
First I baked a regular birthday sponge in two 9-inch pans. The amount in my recipe would have been better in 8-inch ones, really, but 9-inch is what I have. I knew the kids would be more interested in the look than the taste, and with nine children at the table, there was plenty here. (I did this part the day before.)
|Not quite enough batter|
I used Nigella’s birthday buttermilk sponge recipe (not online, but from How to be a Domestic Goddess), as I did last year, but you can use any one you like, or a box mix, or make it chocolate if you prefer.
Then I looked at some cartoon-y Yoda images online (like this one) and cut myself two circles of paper the size of my pans, to figure out how long I could make the ears out of one circle. (The first circle was going to be the head, obvs.) I used the paper ears as a template to cut the sponge, once it had cooled completely. I made a couple of moons/asteroids/distant DeathStars out of some of the rest.
Then I realised I had no plate the right shape for this creation, and just like last year, I Blue-Peter-ed a used cereal box and some tinfoil into a nice long shiny platter. Here are the head and the ears in place.
I mixed up some buttercream icing – not quite enough, because of course I had stocked up on butter but forgotten to make sure we had plenty of confectioners’ (icing) sugar – and used a tiny spoon to make sure I didn’t drip too much food colouring in at one time. I think two drops was enough, and I still have a green fingernail this morning.
Then I plastered the buttercream all over the head and ears, covering up the joins and evening out the slight height differences.
(I ran to the supermarket for more sugar and made up another little batch for the moons. It turned out I had no other working food colouring so I just kept them white.)
At this point I was quite pleased, but of course I still had the “artistic” part to go.
I used the tip of a butter knife to draw eyes, the indentations in Yoda’s ears and the lines around his mouth and on his forehead. Then I dipped the knife tip in hot water and found that made a much cleaner line, so I went over the eyes and wrinkles again that way.
I used green sugar (find it in the cake decorating section of the baking aisle, with the sprinkles) for the ears and put chocolate sprinkles carefully – yes, with my tweezers – in the lines to make the eyes and mouth. (Laugh if you will, but I had an empty house and was blasting Pandora on the Duran Duran station. I know how to live it up.) I used a little bit of the uncoloured buttercream for the whites of his eyes and a chocolate chip for each pupil.
And I decided to leave it at that before I messed it up completely.
|Mabel is eyeing up the moon she wants to eat|