The key to this recipe is to make sure you get off on the right foot. I’m here to help you with that: start by taking £16 and tossing it into the wind. Afterward, spend hours on an exercise in futility known as the Find-Some-Blue-Fondant dance. Now that you’ve wasted enough time and money to be thrilled whatever the outcome, you can start on a cake that, despite its lack of blue colouring, is enough to bring a smile to any Whovian. (Clearly there is some back story here that I plan on keeping to myself 😛 you don’t reeeeally have to throw away any money!)
*disclaimer: I am not a Dr. Who fan, but the cake recipient is*
Yes, the cake is white. There were some issues with getting blue gel to colour my fondant, and indeed, time issues that meant I did not even make my own fondant *gasp* I bought ready-rolled icing from the shop instead! Apologies all round.
Fun fact: in the audio version of Dr. Who, the Tardis is hit by a cannon and loses its colour. It remains white for three episodes… so my cake wasn’t too inaccurate.
The cake recipe is one my grandmother used. It’s called Verna’s Chocolate Cake and, while I don’t know who that Verna lady was, I know she made a damned fine cake! This is a double recipe, so you can safely cut it in half if you ever want to make a normal chocolate cake. For the Tardis I had to make this double recipe twice to get two 12 inch by 12 inch cakes.
Pre-heat the oven to 150 C fan (170 C non-fan)
160 g unsalted butter (the original recipe says butter the size of 4 eggs… adorable)
460 g granulated sugar
4 egg yolks (save the whites — you’ll need 8 for the icing!)
2 tsp salt
4 tsp vanilla
200 g unsweetened cocoa powder
500 g plain flour (sifted)
2 tsp baking soda
Start by greasing and flouring your pan. I am >abso-FREAKING-lutely< in love with my cake pan. It stores flat AND has these lovely dividers for making four perfectly uniform 6×6 cakes.
Cream together your butter (160 g) and sugar (460 g). (Borrowed a stand mixer from a friend! I was in heaven.)
While beating on a medium setting, add your egg yolks (4). Continue mixing until combined, then add your salt (2 tsp) and vanilla (4 tsp).
Set the mixture to the side. If you have a cup that can measure 1000 ml, you can just do this in one big go, but I will describe it here the way I did it: doing it twice to get the full amount.
In a measuring up, put 100 g cocoa. Pour 240 ml boiling water over it and whisk together. Top up to the 480 ml line with milk and stir well. Add to your butter/sugar/egg mixture and repeat the cocoa/water/milk mixing for a second time. (You will have used 200 g cocoa, 480 ml water, and I don’t know exactly how much milk :P)
While beating on low, gradually add your sifted flour (500 g) and baking soda (2 tsp) into the butter/sugar/egg/chocolate mixture. I generally mix my baking soda into the flour ahead of time to prevent against bitter tasting clumps in the finished batter. Blend until there are no clumps of flour.
Divide the batter evenly into your pan.
Cook for 45 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the centre will come out clean when they are done.
Repeat the whole cake process again until you have eight wee cakes.
Set your cakes out on a wire rack until they are completely cool before you start icing them.
While my cakes were cooking I made my icing. I used a meringue buttercream for the outside, and a chocolate icing for between the layers. There was plenty of buttercream though, and it was delicious, so I would suggest skipping the chocolate icing part. I also wouldn’t suggest trying to make buttercream with a handheld mixer — they general break under the pressure.
Meringue Buttercream Ingredients:
8 egg whites
225 g granulated sugar
680 g unsalted butter (room temperature)
375 g confectioner’s sugar
2 tbsp vanilla extract
In a bowl set over a pot of boiling water, slowly heat your whites (8), granulated sugar (225 g), and salt (pinch). Whisk constantly until all your sugar is dissolved.
Transfer the egg white mixture into your stand mixer and whip on high until a peak forms and the mixture is cool. This takes about 4-5 minutes.
While mixing on medium, gradually add your softened butter (680 g). Sift the confectioner’s sugar (375 g) and add it along with the vanilla (2 tbsp).
I stored my buttercream in the fridge covered in cling film as it softens quite quickly when on the counter! (This photo is after it was covered with the cling film, so it doesn’t look as lovely and fluffy.)
Now onto the chocolate icing recipe that I used for between the layers. It is quite an easy recipe, but in my opinion not one of the best, as you can really taste the raw icing sugar. Use only when your desire for ease and speed is greater than the desire for high quality icing.
Chocolate Icing Ingredients:
50 g melted unsalted butter
45 g unsweetened cocoa
75 ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
450 g icing sugar
Whisk together your melted butter (50 g) and cocoa powder (45 g). Stir in your milk (75 ml) and vanilla extract (1 tsp).
Add your sifted icing sugar (450 g) and beat on a medium setting.
Right before using the icing, if you want it a bit softer for spreading, you can carefully add milk, but no more than tablespoon at a time.
Two pieces of cardboard cut to 6×6
Large kitchen knife
Edible icing writer pen
Fondant (aka: Ready-rolled icing)
Cover your two pieces of cardboard with tinfoil. Set one on the board or tray you plan to use for displaying the finished cake. Examine your cakes and set aside the most high/evenly peaked cake to be used as your top piece.
Using a serrated knife, level one of the cakes. Place the first levelled cake on the tinfoil covered cardboard you’ve prepared on your display board. (I used a bit of buttercream icing below and above to keep the tinfoiled cardboard in place and to keep the cake from slipping off of it.)
Level the second cake, then ice your first layer and place the second cake on top (making sure it is even!) Level your third cake, ice the second layer, place the newly levelled piece on top. Repeat until you have four layers of cake.
Measure a straw against the side of the four layers and cut it so it is flush with the top layer. Cut four more straws to the same height. Afterward, ice the top of your fourth layer, then insert the five straws as seen below. This is to prevent your cake from collapsing into itself.
Take your second piece of cardboard and start the exact same process of levelling cakes and icing between layers. Stop when you reach your last cake, the one you set aside specially for the top. Take five straws and measure them so they are 1 centimetre taller than the top of the third layer and insert them into the cake. Cut the top piece on diagonals so it has a roof shape as showin in the photo below. Carefully place the top piece on, being particularly precise since the straws won’t allow for you to shift it around afterward.
Cover both your mini towers in buttercream icing. I used excessive amounts, then spread it with a straight metal implement. Use a flat spatula to pic up the top layer and place it on top of the bottom half. Add extra icing to hide the seam.
At this point, my buttercream was quite soft, so I put the (now 8 layered!!) cake in the fridge to cool before smoothing out the lumps and sharpening up the corners.
While doing the rest of the decorating, I took the cake out of the fridge again to make sure the buttercream was soft enough to allow the fondant to adhere well.
I designed a stencil for my Tardis walls. Measure the height of your cake (minus the peak) and the width to come up with the stencil dimensions. I then used a ruler to figure out how I wanted the windows spaced. (In the picture below, the bottom of the picture is actually the top of the stencil.) Each Tardis wall consists two rectangles, one with the windows cut into it, and one solid (windowless) rectangle.
Lightly cover your surface with icing sugar before rolling out your fondant. To save time while cutting windows, I put a liberal amount of icing sugar on one cut rectangle (to avoid unwanted stickage), then placed another rectangle on top of it. Thus, I was able to cut out two windowed panels simultaneously with my Stanley knife, as shown below.
When moving your panels, roll them over your rolling pin to avoid losing the shape. In order to fix your back (windowless) and front (windowed) panel together, use your finger to evenly brush water on the windowed front panel. Since it is more delicate, leave that panel there, and pick up your solid back panel by rolling it over your rolling pin and carefully lower it onto the windowed panel. I used my icing smoother to securely press the two panels together. Afterward, roll the newly adhered wall onto your rolling pin, line it up with the cake, and use the icing smoother to firmly press it onto the cake.
Continue these steps until you have built all four walls.
Cut two pieces of fondant for the wee Tardis signs. I used an edible icing pen to do the writing. Let it dry for a bit. Yet again, to fix them to the cake, use your finger to wet the back of the signs and also to dampen the spot you’re sticking them to. Carefully use your smoother to adhere the sign, being sure not to smudge the writing!
To make the corners more aesthetically pleasing, I cut long strips of fondant and, using water as described before, placed the strip evenly over the corners as shown in the final pictures. For the roof, I just rolled out some fondant into pieces slightly bigger than 1/4 of the roof. Place it on the roof and use a knife to cut it into a properly fitting triangle. Repeat until the four panels are done. I couldn’t fine a wee keychain with alight to stick in the top of the cake, so I cut a straw and stuck that in — a last ditch effort at detail that wasn’t quiiiiite up to quality 😛
Finally, I had edible blue glitter that I combined with water to paint into the windows… not actually sure I’m happy with that decision, but c’est la vie. The birthday boy didn’t seem to mind 😀
Final step: invite over a lot of guests and eat eat EAT!!!
Seriously. A lot of guests. It is huge. Also, consider making a trifle with the leftover cake tops.