My daughter has an obsession with cats and penguins. They are her two favourite animals and if she lost her cat and penguin soft toys it would be a disaster. Before Christmas I bought some round hemisphere cake tins with the idea of possibly making a turtle cake (one of her favourite animals at that time). Well I still haven’t made a turtle cake, although that might change soon, but I did recently decide I could make a penguin cake and so I bought the icing to be prepared. I told her we would make a penguin cake one day and she didn’t forget. The next afternoon I asked her what she wanted to do and she replied, ‘Make a penguin’. The day had come a little sooner than I expected.
We mixed up the cake batter and baked the cakes. Unfortunately, there was no time to finish decorating them. We had to wait until the next day. I told here we were going to make the penguin and she went and got her little rolling pin and biscuit cutters. While she played with some of the icing, I got on and decorated the cake.
She might not be quite 2 yet, but she was quite impressed, at least I like to think so. She might not have liked the banana and chocolate chip bars, but she did like this cake, minus the icing. All that work and I’m not keen on icing either so we both pull most of it off and throw it away! The fun is in the decorating anyway.
The good thing about this recipe is that it makes quite a dense cake that is ideal for decorating and you could just use the same mixture to make a round or square cake and then cut shapes out of it. Although it’s quite dense it is also very moist and bakes evenly from the sides right to the middle, there were no dry bits around the edge as you can get with some recipes. It is adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Buttermilk Birthday Cake and you can find the original recipe here.
I am linking this to Tea Time Treats, hosted by The Hedgecombers and Lavender and Lovage. The theme this month is decorative cakes. As this is my first attempt at using hemisphere pans, ready to roll icing and making a penguin cake I am linking to Mimi’s Mummy’s Blog which is hosting Our Growing Edge started by Bunny Eats Design, which is an event that encourages you to try new things. I am also linking to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum.
250g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
100ml low fat yoghurt
100ml semi-skimmed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g caster sugar
3 tbsp Jam
White, black and yellow ready to roll icing
Icing sugar – to dust the rolling pin and table when rolling out the icing
How to Make a Penguin Cake
1. Mix the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a bowl. Also mix the flour and milk together in a small measuring jug.
2. Soften the butter a little in the microwave or leave it out of the fridge to bring to room temperature. Put the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream together.
3. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat between each one. Add a third of the flour mixture and a third of the yoghurt/milk mixture in three batches, beating after each addition.
4. Butter the inside of 2 hemisphere cake tins. I used a 14cm one and a 21cm one. Fill each one about 2/3 full with the cake batter and put on a baking tray. Rest each one on top of a round metal biscuit cutter so they stay still.
5. Bake the cakes in the oven at 160C. I found the smaller one needed 25 minutes and the larger one 45 minutes. Keep testing with a metal skewer in the middle of the cake until it comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the cake tins for a while and then turn them out onto a metal rack to finish cooling.
6. When you are ready to start decorating, slice off the bottom of the cake that will have risen up during baking. Heat the jam in the microwave and brush it onto the cakes where you are going to put the icing. Cover each one completely in white icing first and then roll out the black icing and cut out the shapes you need for the rest of the head, the sides, the eyes and the wings. Finally make the beak and feet with the yellow icing.
Notes for making this cake in a standard round tin
The mixture for this cake can also be made in a 23cm round tin. Follow steps 1-3 above. Line the tin with baking paper. Heat the oven to 180C and bake for approximately 30 minutes. Decorate any way you like.