Thursday, 8 March 2012

I'm back... although unfortunately this time it's on the wrong side of 30

Hello again dear readers, sorry for the radio silence over the last couple of weeks!  Thanks to my lovely wife Melissa, I seem to have been able to drag out my big 3-0 birthday celebrations for way longer than I deserve - the highlights of which were an amazing trip of a lifetime to San Francisco and an 80's theme birthday party last Saturday. 
There was much debate on my part, and speculation on the part of others, as to what type of cake I should make for my 30th birthday.  I had some grand plans for a topsy turvy 3 tiered Alice in Wonderland cake, but with only 25 people coming to the party there would have been way too many leftovers for my waistline to handle (and if there is cake in the house, I can't help but eat it).  We also had a few friends coming down to stay with their little ones and I didn't want to spend all my time decorating, so I scaled my ideas back to something simple, but iconic, that would fit in with my 80's party theme.
I had the idea of incorporating an 80's computer game, and really wanted to do the NewZealand Story which was my brother's and my favourite game growing up, but I decided that was a bit too obscure and instead went for the classic 80's arcade favourite that everyone would know, Pacman.
Of course this wasn't just any plain old cake, I wanted to try something a bit different and have a more unusual flavour that maybe people hadn't tried before.  I adapted one of my favourite loaf cake recipes for cinnamon and courgette Cake into an 8" square tin.  Scaling up recipes can be a little tricky, and I was a bit worried how it would turn out as sometimes it doesn't work quite how you expect it to.  Luckily, it baked into a lovely moist cake, although it was a little bit too dome-shaped so I had to trim a lot off the top to make it level.  Next time I'll use less baking powder and either line the outside of the tin (like you would for a Christmas cake) or else I might invest in some of those bake even strips.  Needless to say that the leftover cake trimmings didn't go to waste....
I decided to fill the cake with my favourite icing - Italian meringue buttercream laced with lemon curd.  The 45 minutes it takes to make it is SO worth it, I can't get enough of the stuff, and it was the perfect combination with the cinnamon and courgette cake which has lemon zest running through it. 

I covered the cake with a light grey sugarpaste, followed by a very thin square of black sugarpaste and a grey button to make it look like an 80's computer monitor:
Next I rolled very thin sausages of blue sugarpaste to make the lines.  I know that to be 100% authentic, these should have been double lines, but sometimes it's better to capture the essence of what you are recreating rather than an exact copy.  Well that's my reasoning anyway!
 Next up was my favourite bit, the monsters!  I cut these freehand and added tiny circles of white sugarpaste for the eyes, finished off with edible black pen for the pupils.  I love how they look in the direction they are moving:

Then to finish the cake off, I needed to add the dots.  I had originally planned to use royal icing, but I find it really annoying to make and I had also uncovered some silver dragees in my decorating box and thought they would be perfect.  And very reminiscent of 80's party cakes.
I have to say that the cake went down really well at the party (although maybe that's due to the amount of homebrew people had consumed...), in any case, the birthday girl was very pleased with it, and I've saved the final piece for my 11 o'clock treat tomorrow.
I'm also very happy that although I may have turned 30 and should officially have grown up by now, I can still have a big kid's birthday cake :o)

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