Halloween Brain Cake
oven, parchment paper, 8" sphere / ball cake tin, stand mixer with paddle, bowl, bowl (small), Cooling rack, saucepan (small), candy thermometer, serrated knife, offset spatula, ruler, pastry brush
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- parchment paper
- 8" sphere / ball cake tin
Preheat the over to 350F. Line the inside of your bowl with parchment paper and vegetable shortening.
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- 180 g unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 60 ml vegetable oil
- 1½ tsp vanilla extract
- 450 g sugar
- stand mixer with paddle
Place the butter, oil, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat at a medium speed until well-blended.
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- 375 g flour
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- ½ tsp salt
In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa and salt and set aside.
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- 3 eggs (room temperature)
- 1 red no-taste gel coloring
- 1 tsp burgundy gel food colouring
Beat in the eggs into the mixer one at a time. With the machine on low, add a whole tub of red and the burgundy gel food colouring.
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- 375 ml buttermilk
Add in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Beat it long enough for it all to combine.
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- 1½ tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1½ tsp baking soda
- bowl (small)
Place the baking soda in a small dish, stir in the vinegar (it will fizz up a little) and add to batter with the machine running.
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- Cooling rack
Once it’s all combined in the bowl, pour your cake batter into the prepared spherical cake tin. Place it in the oven until a cake tester comes out clean (about 1 hour 40 minutes). Once baked, let it cool completely.
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While the cake is baking, you can make the Italian Meringue buttercream.
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- 350 g sugar
- 120 ml water
- saucepan (small)
In a small saucepan over a medium heat, bring the sugar and water to a boil.
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- 8 egg whites
While your sugar mixture is heating, place the egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
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- candy thermometer
When your sugar/water mixture reaches 230 F degrees on a candy thermometer, begin to whip the egg whites at a medium-high speed until stiff.
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When the sugar mixture reaches 240 F degrees, remove it from the heat IMMEDIATELY, and with the mixer running, add it to your egg whites in a steady stream down the side of the bowl and beat at a high speed.
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Whip your meringue until no heat remains. Place you hands along the outside of the bowl to check.
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- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 450 g unsalted butter (room temperature)
With the mixer STILL running, add your butter bit by bit, beating until spreadable, 3-5 minutes then beat in the vanilla.
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- serrated knife
Once the cake has cooled completely and been removed from the spherical tin, use a serrated knife to carve the cake into a rounded brain shape (e.g. cut a curved piece away from each side to narrow the shape). It’s best to carve small slivers at a time. Carve out a dividing line in the centre of the brain, where the hemispheres would be divided. Repeat the same process horizontally along the back of the brain.
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- offset spatula
Once you’re happy with the basic shape, crumb coat it completely with the buttercream. Then apply another thin layer of the buttercream to help the fondant to stick.
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- 1500 g pink fondant
Roll the fondant into tubes to create the wavy pattern of the human brain, approximately 1cm in diameter. If you can’t get pink, use white and add some red food colouring until you get the right colour. Try and keep the pattern random, rather than repeating the same twists and turns.
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Leave definition between the two hemispheres of the brain (it’s a good idea to place a small ruler in the crevasse to help guide the fondant tubes and keep them separate).
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Use the remaining fondant to sculpt the cerebellum by rolling them into two balls, then flattening one side of each and pushing one edge down so it resembles a curved ‘wedge’. Place these under the back of the brain cake so it’s propped up at one end. Make some indents along the length of the visible fondant.
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Use a sculpting tool to further indent the corners and curves in your brain wave pattern.
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- raspberry jam (seedless)
- pastry brush
Once the cake is covered, place some jam in a bowl. You might need to add a little water to thin it a little. Brush the entire cake with a thin layer of jam.
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Along the crevasse, dollop some more jam in areas that are deeper so it ‘pools’ a little.
Enjoy your meal!