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Barmy Blue's Bland Blog

The Spotted Cake From Hell

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The day Iíve had.

So. If you were to search for ďspotty cakeĒ Youíll find some fun looking things and right away youíll find what I was trying to make.
Itís my mumís birthday tomorrow and I donít really have anything for her. I put all my efforts into Christmas and had some nice surprises for her (including something that I actually went out and bought myself). As there was a 3 for 2 offer when I bought her Satsuma hand cream and hand sanitiser I was saving the second hand cream for her birthday. But she found that (after Christmas at least) while looking for bows for the family Christmas presents. So that surprise it blown. I think Iíll hold that back for a later date when sheís forgotten about it. Maybe for Motherís day or next Christmas.

But the only problem with that is that now I donít have anything for her Birthday. I thought of going out when sheís at work to get something but the weather has been abysmal and Iíve been oversleeping far too much to do it secretly. Also the only things I can think of are things that I rejected for Christmas, either because they werenít that good or were too complicated.

The best Iíve managed to do is three packets of flying saucers (I wouldíve got more but they didnít have any this week and I couldnít get too many last week because sheíd notice. Although she might have noticed anyway. Itís very hard to be sneaky) and four sherbet fountains which she has fond memories of from childhood and so on I guess. We still have sweets and biscuits and things leftover from Christmas and I also wend a little crazy getting things that were on sale after Christmas. So more sweets is the last thing we need but itís all I could come up with so thatís that.
I donít buy/make her birthday cards anymore because I see where they end up and I get disheartened by that and also itís a lot of effort to make a card. Where they end up is just lying around somewhere and forgotten as soon as the birthday is over. I know thatís how it is for all cards and I accept it. I just donít like seeing it happen with something that Iíve worked so hard on to make. If the card leaves the house then I donít see where it ends up and I can forget about it and move on.

So. With all this in mind I had an idea. I could give her a spectacular birthday cake. Hopefully the beauty and difficulty of it will be greatly appreciated in lieu amazing birthday gifts.

I already have a cake pop mould (though Iíve only ever used one half for making sweets) but itís only an 8 ball mould that Iíve never used properly before.
I got a bag of sponge mix last week and a bunch of different food colouring (It claims to be 3 times more vibrant. Yay)
And this week I got another bag of sponge mix and some decorations.

I planned toÖÖ

Ah. How you make the cake is to do some little coloured cake balls (hence the cake pop mould) then pop them in the cake tin in regular sponge cake mix and bake it. Then when itís all done you cut into it and there are coloured spots inside. The recipe I was following used a readymade sponge cake mix too but didnít cook the balls as long as instructed because theyíre smaller. Fair enough. Fun and simpler than you think. Right?

I planned to bake the balls secretly yesterday (because she wasnít at work) and do the rest of the cake today (when she was at work).
Of course. The best laid plans of mice and men.

To be completely secret I waited until she went to bed to make the balls. This was a disaster. She slept too long before taking the dog out. So took the dog out late. So went to bed late. So I only had just over an hour to do it. I considered waiting until today and just getting up earlier but, given my recent sleeping habits that wouldnít work out. So I decided to do them then.

Now I got a particularly cheap sponge mix but it was the only vanilla cake mix they had so I had no choice in the matter. Iíve used it before and itís fine if you do a normal cake. Has questionable results when you try to get fancy but that may just be a lack of technical skill rather than the mix itself.

So I mixed it all up as best as I could using a spoon (because no one wants to hear the electric mixer at 5am. Itís a particularly loud one too) separated it onto seven (because I ended up with one of every colour because I had purple left over from Halloween) So it should be a lot of fun. First problem. I had to make sure the cake pop mould was clean. Not a problem just an inconvenience, as is the fact that I didnít have any ďcake release sprayĒ which is just spray grease. I had a squirty sunflower oil (itís a cheaply constructed disperser so it squirts rather than sprays and loses pressure after about three presses) but good enough.
First actual problem. The food colouring isnít vibrant enough. Five drops in a little bowl of cake mix. I considered having apstel colours because I originally planned on decorating the cake with flying saucers so it would be cute but being baked into a vanilla sponge it wouldnít be impressive enough in pale colours. So if five drops doesnít do it how about another five? Better but could be brighter. Maybe double that. 20 drops. Not as vibrant as the one in the video but she was using a fancier food colouring so this is fine. I think it looks rather nice.

Onto the next problem.
I only have an 8 ball mould. So I only get to do two colours at a time. Fair enough. I put it in the oven, for less time than required like she did in the video. Yay itís cooked.
Third problem.
No. Itís not cooked. The ones on the outside are cooked. The ones in the middle are half cooked. Okay. Put them in for a few more minutes. By the way it is not smart trying to get them out of the mould when itís fresh from the oven. Maybe this will take a little longer than I thought. A few minutes later still not cooked. Okay letís do another five minutes. Better. But still not cooked in the middle. In the end I salvaged what I could and got on with the nest one.
Again hot mould even though itís silicone and not metal (which in my mind means it shouldnít be as hot for as long) is not cool enough to handle straight out of the oven and does not cool down that quickly either. Good to know.

So then the next colour. Again some under cooking going on. Maybe my balls are a bit bigger than the ones in the video? Itís hard to gauge size. Or maybe itís the mix Iím using. Either way I follow the cooking times for the next batch and it works beautifully. I also stop trying to spread the oil evenly using a kitchen towel because theyíre sticking to the mould, then again that might be prevented if I just let them cool first but I donít have time. They can cool while I cook the next ones.

The next problem. I taste a little of the offcut cake. It tastes like crap. Is it the sponge mix? Possibly. Itís not super sweet but letís not forget I put in 20 ďdropsĒ of gel food colouring. And I say ďdropsĒ because itís hard to gauge a drop with something thatís not actually liquid. This is a problem. You donít want a super pretty cake that tastes disgusting. And the way Iím going here itís not going to be a very pretty cake. So for the last two or so batches I put a drop or two (because doing just one drop is hard with the size and shape of this bottle) into the remaining bowls of cake mix and tasting those offcuts was considerably better.

The next problem. Not only is mum up but she has now come downstairs. Itís obvious what Iím doing even though I completely ban her from the kitchen and bring her breakfast to her. She has things to be doing anyway but the fact that I keep having to get up and got back into the kitchen several times is obvious that this isnít a regular cake. Though I doubt she has any clue what kind of cake it is.

She goes off to work and I finally finish baking my balls. At last. Itís around 9am at this point.
Then I think to myself. Iíll probably sleep in too late at this point. And as Iím here why not finish the cake? Then I just have to decorate when I get up.
And while I wait for that to cook I can try to fix the hole in my snuggle socks with that iron glue tape stuff. I didnít know if it would work but I wanted to try because one of them has a hole worn in it So sewing it wouldnít work. My feet have been very cold because I havenít been wearing them and now I think the chilblains are back as a result. *Sigh*

So I mixed up the second bag of cake mix. Put it in the tin with the balls. I only put in a couple but it only went half way up so I stuffed them all in and hoped the cake would rise enough to cover them.

So while I waited for that to cook I got on with my other project. Now it was fiddlier than I thought but I shouldnít have been surprised. I messed up a lot but itís understandable as itís the first time Iíve used it. The only real problem was that I burnt my finder on the edge of the iron for a second. Rather than rushing to the kitchen and running it under the tap I instinctively put it in my mouth instead. It seems okay for now but if it starts itching I must remember why. Itís my first injury ironing anything because Iíve never done ironing. Well, Iíve ironed napkins to card to make cards but rarely. When we got the Christmas tree we also got a nice little table top ironing board. So now I can use the iron more for projects. We have an ironing board but itís currently being used as a table for random junk in my mumís room, since we stopped using it as much then eventually stopped using it altogether. But once in a while we need/would like to use the iron for something but itís not worth clearing the ironing board for. And this little one being so small and light means I can put it on my desk for projects (as long as I move one speaker and my mouse mat and have it hanging off the edge of the desk just a little.)

Then I got the cake out of the oven. Let that cool. It sank a little in the middle but that was okay. I used two cake tins and cooked them side by side in the oven. Iím not used to doing that which explains what happened next.

I forgot to get icing but I have icing sugar if all else fails but I also have decorating icing that I got to do gingerbread which I didnít ice in the end. I didnít get a filling either. But I figured I could use the mixed fruit jam she likes.

I got the cakes out of the tins. Cut the tops off for a flat surface. Then I noticed they were sticky in the middle. But I thought never mind and spread the jam and put them together. then changed my mind and decided to cook them a little more but they were jammed together at this point. What to do.
So I put the cake under a medium grill for a bit and it came out quite nice, a little dark at the edges but not burnt. It seemed to be a bit more solid too. So I turned it over and did the other sideÖÖand forgot it was under the grill.
I arrived to find the cake smoking.
I got it out and it wasnít too bad. Just a thin layer of burnt crustiness. I cut that off, so now itís not flat anymore, but itís okay. But I wonder if itís cooked in the very middle.
But this was about 11:30am at this point.
I wrapped the cake in foil and hid it in the oven (in case I slept through and she came home before I could hide it) we donít have anything to oven cook this week so the oven should be a pretty safe hiding spot.

I wondered if microwaving the cake would cook the middle. Since Iím under the impression (because thatís what Iíve been told in the past) that a microwave works opposite to and oven (for example). The oven heats from the outside in and the microwave heats from the inside out. So if the middle of the cake is undercooked then and the oven will burn it, then the microwave might cook the middle and leave the rest unburnt. But I was too tired to deal with that at the time.

So when I got up, at 5pm, the first thing I did, when I got downstairs, was put the cake in the microwave. I thought about looking it up first to see if it was safe but figured there are microwave cake recipes so it should be fine.

I wanted this to be cooked properly because I figure weíd have leftover cake (as mumís not that into sweets and Iím trying to veer off of sweets because the the crap I eat is making me feel a little sick these days so I canít eat it as much) so mum would probably take the leftover cake to work. And such a surprising and pretty cake is the sort of thing youíd want to show off. In theory.

So for a minute at a time I microwaved it on both sides a few times. It seemed to have cooked more but I donít know if itís cooked all the way through and some of the jam oozed out of the middle, so thatíll be interesting. But now the cake was hot and I needed to let it cool before I could ice it. Then I heard mum coming home. So I hid the cake in the oven and thought about how to start this hilarious story about this cake from hell and Iíve been at this about three hours mostly but with a breakfast break, half way through.

So Iíll let you know how it works out.

Oh I was going to explain what flying saucers are but Iíll save that for later.

A quick follow up. Now itís cooled right down it feels a bit denser. Not sure if thatís down to the microwave or because itís completely cold now. Iíve iced it, had just enough icing to cover the top, not the neatest job but itíll do. One more thing to make me thing this venture is cursed is that when I opened the bag of icing (having put it in warm water and kneaded it to soften it as instructed) I was squeezing it gently and looking into it to both know when it was about to come out and see what kind of consistency it had. At first nothing. Then suddenly it shot a little plug of in-softened icing into my eye. Luckily, I wear glasses so it didnít go in my eye, just splattered on the lens. That couldíve been disastrous if I didnít have glasses. I spent about an hour icing and decorating it. I think it looks pretty darn nice. Kind of looks like it would be more at home at a five-year olds birthday party but never mind.

Updated 01-19-2018 at 08:59 PM by Bluebiird



  1. Virgil's Avatar
    How did it taste? Microwaves don't technically cook from the inside out. The way it works is that it sends frequency like radio waves only stronger, more like a radar actually, into the food and the waves excite the moisture inside the food so much so that it heats up. So the heat is not from the center of the food out, but from wherever the moisture is, which is probably spread evenly throughout. So I guess that is technically cooking from the inside, but not necessarily the center out. Hope that makes sense. Hope your mom had a great birthday.