Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Dorothy the Dinosaur cake: Green, yummy and gluten free!

A few people have emailed me asking for the process K and I used in building the Dorothy the Dinosaur cake that C and her guests so enjoyed for her birthday party on Saturday. Here it is, in steps, if you are interested.

1. Make 2 x square cakes and freeze them

I used a 26cm square tin, and that resulted in a final cake that fed 35 guests and still had almost 1/3 of the cake left over. You could easily use a smaller tin if your party is smaller.

I cannot emphasise enough how beneficial it is to freeze the cakes. It makes carving the shape so much easier.

I made gluten free vanilla cakes, which were just two giant versions of my tried and true vanilla cupcake recipe.

Vanilla cupcakes


* 200g margarine or unsalted butter, softened (I tried both, marg worked better)
* 1 ½ cups caster sugar
* 4 eggs
* 2 ¾ cups gluten free plain flour (I use Orgran)
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1 cup milk
* 1 tablespoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 180°C.

In an electric mixer, beat butter / margarine for 2-3 minutes until pale in colour and creamy. Add sugar one third at a time, beating well between each addition. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for about a minute between each addition. Add the vanilla essence and beat until combined. Sift flour and baking powder and add half to butter mixture with half the milk, beat until well combined. Repeat with remaining flour and milk.

Bake for about 40 minutes or until skewer comes out clean.

2. Carve frozen cakes into shape

My friend K (she of the cake decorating wowiness and general cooking mojo) did the actual carving, because I was too lily-livered to try it. We had printed out an A3 picture of Dorothy which turned out not to be nearly big enough, so we compensated by the simple expedient if cutting it into four segments, placing them in the extreme corners, and adjusting by eye (well, K did, anyway!)

3. Apply liberal swathe of buttercream

Everyone has their own way of making buttercream icing. Mine is to combine margarine and icing sugar with a spoon, adding drops of hot water to move the process along when it's getting boringly lengthy. I don't use milk in my buttercream and I think it leads to a thicker, fudgier-tasting icing, but YMMV, naturally.

The main thing, no matter how you make it, is to make LOTS of it. I used 2 full bags of icing sugar to make enough to give Dorothy a comfortable layer of icing fat.

Important to remember:
If you are making the cake gluten free, you need to use pure icing sugar, NOT icing mixture, in your buttercream.

4. Knead colour gels into fondant / white icing until desired colours (green, yellow and a little bit of red) are achieved

This is, undoubtedly, my kids' favourite part of the process! We use the Orchard White Icing that you can buy in most supermarkets (it's gluten free) and K brings her vast kit of colour gels (like these ones that you can get from Cake Deco in Melbourne. I understand they are also available online).

The gels are much better than liquid food colouring in most contexts, but especially for fondant, where you need to work the colour through with your hands.

Tip: You should wear rubber gloves for this step unless you don't mind everyone who kneads being a little green for a couple of days :-)

5. Roll out green fondant very carefully and lift onto Dorothy to cover cake (*you may need to stitch and patch)

This was the hardest and most time-consuming part of the process, and it was K's persistence that got us there in the end (did I mention she's a star?)

In a large cake, getting a piece of fondant that big to lift over a cake without tearing and falling apart is not so very easy. It was compounded for us by the heat of the day, which led the fondant to stick to the benchtop (and rip apart) even when we drowned the surface in a snowdrift of icing sugar. The whole business gave me a new level of appreciation for the skill of the decorators on one of the girls' and my favourite shows, Ace of Cakes. Now I really get it when they say, in their invariably laconic yet slightly pained way, "Fondant. It's heavy, yunno."

In the end, the solution was to roll it out on waxed baking paper and quickly hoist it onto the cake, patching the two areas that still did come away slightly. It was a big relief to get it covered!

6. Cut out yellow fondant into different coloured circles and apply, wetting the bottom of each circle with a dab of water to help it stick

This was another phase the kids enjoyed and in fact were able to largely complete themselves; kneading the yellow colouring, rolling and cutting out different sized circles for Dorothy's spots. K then applied the spots to the cake using a dab of water for each one.

7. Cut the white elements (gloves, eyes, hat and teeth) from white rolled-out fondant & apply

I am proud to say that, despite being nervous about it, I did this part :-) Because our template was so wrongly sized for the cake, I copied the picture but in an upsized form to make the gloves, hat, eyes and teeth. I used a small paring knife and aimed for both sharp edges and speed, as the white fondant wasn't liking the heat any more than the green.

8. Create a fondant rose for the hat!

K taught my daughters how to make roses out of fondant last year when we were making E's birthday love heart cake in May. I, alas, have not mastered the art, but I think this tutorial would be a good place to start.

9. Using black royal icing, pipe the outlines for Dorothy's hat, body, tail, eyes and edges.

I let the expert, K, do the piping, being faaaaar too nervous to try it myself. She used royal icing, made with egg whites and icing sugar, and black colour gel.

Tip: The icing looked gray in the bowl, but appeared darker when piped, and dried to a deep black.

10. You are done!!
Store in the fridge in extremely hot weather, but will be fine on a benchtop if temperatures aren't extreme. Tip from K - if fridging it, remove cake from the fridge 1-2 hrs before serving to allow the beads of moisture that will have formed to dry out.

Voila! You have yourself a gluten free Dorothy the Dinosaur cake, and, in my case at least, a very happy little birthday girl :-)

No comments:

Post a Comment