How I made a brain cake

This is the gooey, somewhat disturbing brain cake, which I made for my daughter’s science party last year.1002051_10152109719199265_237343688_n

It was a hit with the party girl, and those who were game to eat it.  Surprisingly simple compared to other cakes I’ve attempted – I thought I’d document the process.

1.  I cooked two round butter cakes during the week, wrapped them in cling film and froze them whilst still warm.

2.  I pulled the cakes out of the freezer the day before the party and set to work carving the rough oval shape of a brain (frozen cake is much easier to shape, as it doesn’t crumble or squash).P1070847

3.  I pasted the cakes together with frosting and then coated the outside well to disguise the join.  I used just over one tub of basic, Betty Crocker style vanilla frosting, coloured to a skin-like texture with food dye.


4.  I made the outer, noodly bits (correctly termed gyri, as a physiotherapist friend of mine pointed out) from packaged royal icing, or fondant.  I added a few smears of blue and red gel food dye to the white fondant block, and kneaded to the point that it was marbled with colour (rather than being thoroughly incorporated).  I then broke off small handfuls, rolled them into balls and then into long noodle shapes by hand.  The noodles were about the size of toothpaste squeezed out of a tube.

5.  I arranged the noodles into rough gyri-like squiggles and then stuck them directly onto the frosting.  The key to the realistic brain-look (thank you Pinterest) was the line directly down the centre of the brain, dividing the two hemispheres, and the rough symmetry of the squiggle arrangement on either side.  This bit was fun – I even let my daughter make a few noodles (for which I afforded myself a mental high-five, considering my harried, day-before-party disposition).


6.  Once complete, I covered the brain in lightly-greased cling film until the actual party day, to keep it from drying out.  Oh yes, and I also added a few eyeballs, made with left-over white fondant and (very old) black fondant, which I discovered at the back of the pantry.  A few left-over gyri attached to the back of the eyeballs sufficed as the optic nerve and muscle.P1070854

7.  On the day of the party I used a pastry brush to coat the brain in strawberry topping.  No need for precision here – I simply slopped it on.P1070859

8.  I realised an hour before the party that such a gooey creation was going to get rather insect-ridden and even more gross if left outside on the party table for any length of time.  So, in true last-minute fashion, I raced around to a neighbour’s house to borrow the fabulous cake stand with glass dome, for that authentic ‘specimen’ presentation.  Voila! Brain on a plate.1473036_10152109720904265_1969619952_n

If you’d like to see more of our mad science party action, you can read the full blog post here.


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