Thursday, January 27, 2011

Explorer Cake

I had this wild idea that Morgan would enjoy making an Explorers Cake for Australia Day. The idea was that he'd use a cake to make the map of Australia and then trace the various routes Australian Explorers he'd learned about. I mentioned the idea to him, and he was completely taken with it! We bounced ideas around for decorating it, and I agreed I'd pick up a few sprinkles for him to use. He also wanted a few JellyBabies for the actual explorers and I agreed that he could have a few. The rest were given away to company.

I asked Mr S to help Morgan with the cake because I didn't want to get carried away being creative with the cake myself. Morgan and I quickly briefed Mr S on the entire idea, a few times over. I agreed to make the cake and then put on the the icing they needed as well, but the rest of the work was pretty much all them!

They used a blue/white sprinkle mix for the water, and we felt the dinosaurs looked like green fish. We only chose to recognise 6 explorers because we only had 5 colors of sprinkles. We figured Able Tasman could just be represented with a Jelly Baby because we didn't have a world map on our cake.

Top View, isn't it awesome?!
Mr S printed out a map of Australia that fit our 9x13 cake (recipe here) perfectly. He then cut them out and pressed them gently onto the "naked" cake. Then Morgan liberally sprinkled the cake with the blue/white dino mix we picked up for this cake. Then they brushed the sprinkles off the paper templates and gently pulled them up. They used toothpicks to get a quick lift before pulling them up. From there they added the explorers routes.

The red jelly, and picture on the nearest flag, is Abel Tasman credited with finding Tasmania way back when it was known as Van Dieman's Land. Or, actually, even farther back when they thought Tasmania was part of New Holland.  The red jelly baby by the Aussie Flag is Captain Cook and represents his raising of the flag in Botany Bay. Again, we didn't put his route on the cake because, like Tasman, they traveled from England.

The yellow line represents the travels of Flinders & Bass as they navigated around the entirety of mainland Australia in order to discover the Bass Straight; thus named because Flinders felt it should be named after his friend and colleague Bass.

The orange jelly and route represents Charles Sturt and his exploration from south to north of Australia. Morgan was quite eager, and actually requested this explorer, because he wanted to include Ayer's Rock on the map. He's quite taken by Ayer's Rock, which happened to be a bit of chocolate we rounded off a bit.  The purple route and explorer represent Ludwig Leichhardt, an explorer we read about on Australia Day. We also endured a round of Advance Australia Fair, & Give Me A Home Among The Gum Trees, which was followed up by a few small snippets from The Australia Book about Captain Cook's landing at Botany Bay and a few well loved Explorers stories.

The finished materpiece!

Morgan was quite proud of the job well done here, and Mr S was equally impressed with the job they did. Needless to say it was a well admired cake before everyone started requesting specific pieces of the map, explorers, and so on to eat.. 

Notes:  A great site for learning or reading about Aussie Explorers, if you haven't got access to books about them can be found at the Australian Dictionary Of Biography Online. A few fun books about explorers are: Bass & Flinders, Burke &  Wills, The Australia Book, Australian Backyard Explorers

Icing Recipe:

185g butter, softened
2 1/4 c ground coconut sugar*
2 T cornflour/corn starch
2 T milk powder**
2 T milk

Mix butter in bowl until pale in color, add coconut sugar, cornflour, and milks. Mix until light and fluffy.

*We put our coconut sugar in the blender and turn it on until the stuff is powdery and pulverized. This can take anywhere from a few minutes to 5 or more. It will depend on how dry and "unclumped" your coconut sugar is. I add 2 tablespoons of cornflour to the icing sugar once it's in the bowl because icing sugar mixture had cornstarch in it, this also seems to help the icing hold up a bit better.

**When I made the above icing I was out of my cornflour! Instead of completely panicking I grabbed milk powder out of the cupboard and used an entire 1/4 cup for it. It worked! So, while I'd not normally use that much you could get by with it in a pinch. I generally just add 1-2 T to keep the icing mixture thick and spreadable, but you could easily omit it if you were using cornflour/starch.


MustardSeedReads said...

This idea is FABULOUS! Love it! Thanks for sharing.

Dianna said...

What a cool cake and a great idea.

Annette said...

It's beautiful-- what a great idea!