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"I would also like to add that ‘Maoist Orange Cake is possibly the best name for a blog ever. Just my twopence." -- The Sixth Carnival of Radical Feminists, 1 October 2007

The Twelfth Carnival of Radical Feminists is up at The Burning Times blog and mentions one of our posts, Helen 'Wheels' Keller, for recommendation. Orangeists spreading our zest!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

help me make a brain cake, by little gator

A friend of mine who wishes to not be named has advanced MS and wants to have "a funeral for her brain" while it still works well enough to let her enjoy it. I am trying not to think about the reason for this party, since she wants us to enjoy it. We'll have forever to miss her when the time comes.

I have been given the assignment of making a brain cake. I got some useful info at
Make An Anatomically Correct Brain Cake.

But am already changing it around. Their marshmallow fondant is nasty-tasting and grossly sticky.

I found another fondant recipe from my old Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook.

The fondant I'm using is made of powdered sugar and condensed milk.

Mr Gator was assigned the writing of a short story on the topic of loss of brain function. One thing he may put in his story is a child in virtual reality with a robin's nest growing out of her brain.

(Robin's Nest, painting by Angela Woods)

So I've made a sample batch and made robin eggs and eyes. Light blue eyes, cause that's what my friend's eyes are like. Each eye is a ball of white fondant with a tinted fondant iris and a chocolate chip pupil. Any idea how long this will keep in the freezer?

I'm experimenting with shapes and sizes of pans for the cake itself. The page listed above has the cake as a lateral profile, but I'd prefer something rounder that looks like a view from above. As another friend said, that just looks "brainier." The top bit will be from a round-bottom pan and the whole brain will be cut into "hemispheres.'

I tried my mixing bowl but it was too deep and the inside didn't cook right. Maybe 2 layers, one in a flat round pan and the other in the mixing bowl, but not as deep?

There will be walnut halves in the batter. The cake flavor is unimportant but (sob) I can't eat chocolate so it will be chocolate free cake and icing.

Then I will assemble the cake and ice with pink/red buttercream. On top of that I will arrange coils of grey-tinted fondant looking like brain-wrinkles. Some of the frosting will show through between the coils. The eyes will be attached by red licorice strings, with maybe a bit of coconut shreds.

If I add the birds nest, it will be made of red licorice too.

Since my friend loves lolcats, I will submit the cake's photo with the caption "brain cake saw what you did there."

I welcome all advice.

(Knitted Brain, by Karen Norberg, from The Museum of Scientifically Accurate Fabric Brain Art)


kat said...

Maybe a bunt cake with a couple of cupcakes stuck in the hole?

little gator said...

Ooh! hadn't thought of that!

Jana C.H. said...

Brain jello would be easier than brain cake, with this nifty brain jello mold from Archie McPhee: http://www.mcphee.com/items/10375.html

It's plastic so you couldn't bake a cake in it. Maybe this would work:

1) Make a hemispherical cake in a steel bowl. Tip it out onto a plate and cool.

2) Make jello in the brain mold, then dig out most of the innards.

3) When the cake is good and cold, gently tip the jello brain over the top, like a helmet.

4) Voila!

I have no idea if this would work; it's just an idea. My mother is the creative cake expert of the family. When my brothers and I were kids, she would always ask us what shape we wanted our birthday cakes to be. I remember a daschund, a motorcycle, a Siamese cat (for me), and a mountain with tiny skiiers on it. When I was a geography grad student she made me the world in two pieces, northern and southern hemispheres. That's where I learned about making a hemispherical cake in a large steel bowl.

Jana C.H.
Saith Martha F.H.: Ovens are for baking, not for cleaning.

little gator said...

Can you bake in a stainless steel bowl without harming the bowl?

i considered the jello thing but I htink I'll enjoy molding the fondant.

Jana C.H. said...

Little Gator-- My mother still has the steel bowls and they're fine. Actually, I have one and she has the other. They are thick, study stainless steel; it might be hard to find bowls like them these days.


cybercita said...

little gator, have you ever seen a baking core? it's a removable plug you use to cook the inside of a large diameter cake. you stick it in the middle of the pan and fill it with batter, then when the cake is baked, you remove the core and replace it with the cake you baked inside. that might help with cooking something in the bowl. i bought mine at a cake baking place in manhattan, but i think you can buy them at sur la table.