Snowy Owl Chick Cake

It’s Midi’s 8th birthday, so of course she wanted an owl cake. I’ve pretty much exhausted the internet’s supply of owl cakes, so had to come up with something myself. My friend Sutty joked about making a cake shaped as an egg and saying the owl hadn’t hatched yet. I laughed long and loud at that, but it gave me ideas.

I’d already baked a madeira cake in a bowl, intending to cut it up to form a stern, eagle-shaped adult snowy owl. I turned the cake on its end and joked to The Boss that it looked like a Stormtrooper’s helmet (or something ruder). Suddenly it looked like the egg Sutty had joked about. And the volcano bit looked a lot like an emerging chick. If you’d had more than a small glass of wine with dinner (!) Oh wow! If I could pull this one off, Midi would love it. And the gorier and more kitsch the better.

I’m showing you this as a photo tutorial to show you how easy it was, and in the hope that it inspires you to make something far, far worthier of being called a birthday cake!

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1. Bake a 4-egg madeira cake in a 1-litre pyrex bowl. Upturn your cake onto a ring of foil to balance it while it cools

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2. Pour over some thin Royal Icing. Don’t worry about crumbs getting in if you’re (a) lazy like me, or (b) going to place the cake on ‘dirt’

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3. Cut the volcano bit off the cake and upturn it again. Spread the top with jam (leftover homemade raspberry jam here). I made the ‘dirt’ out of crumbled oatcakes whizzed up in the food processor with black food colouring, and I added lumps of brown sugar and some leftover chocolate matchmakers as twigs. It would look a million times better if it was crumbled chocolate cake or biscuits, wouldn’t it?

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4. Take the volcano bit and cut a ring out of it from the front to give it a bit of shape

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5. Like this. Cut the remaining top in half to form wings. I’ll show you what I mean in a minute…

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6. So whang the circular cut out bit on the top: this’ll form the body of the chick

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7. Prop the wings behind it. I used cocktail sticks through the wings and into the egg to hold it up

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8. Use a smear of buttercream icing to cover and seal in crumbs.

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9. While that’s drying, make the eyes. I used giant Milky Bar buttons and black food colouring. I thought the 2 eyes on the left looked better, but Midi preferred the big scary-looking ones

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10. Plaster the chick in buttercream. Use the back of a spoon ‘dabbed’ on the icing to make a fluffy texture. Push the eyes in, and add a cashew nut as a beak.

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11. Close-up of the Evil Eyebrows

12. She loved the silliness of it

12. She loved the silliness of it

A real snowy owl chick (will edit to add photo credit)

A real snowy owl chick (from dangerous-wild-animals.blogspot.co.uk)

Notes on quantities:

  1. A 1-litre pyrex bowl fits a 4-egg madeira cake mix. So make a standard madeira cake without the lemon using 150g sugar, 150g salted butter, 4 eggs, 200g plain flour, 10 ml baking powder. Bake for 65 – 80 mins in a moderate oven (180degC/350degF/gas 4). Make sure to grease and flour your bowl well, and leave room for the cake to volcano.
  2. I used about 3 tablespoons of jam
  3. I made far too much buttercream. It was from my favourite buttercream recipe, and I used 150g butter, 185g icing sugar and a dribble of vanilla essence. You could happily get away with using lots less.

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