New Recipe: Lego reshapes the baking of cakes

Critics have an excellent opportunity to pan this particular test kitchen. That’s what it’s all about.

A few years back I bought two Lego Minifigure silicone cake pans that sat on a shelf so long that Lego “retired” the product.

In more than a half-century of baking, silicone in the oven remained alien until my birthday last week. MT, of course, offered to bake anything I wanted, but I had a vision of two minifigure cakes holding hands, one representing me, the other MT. To a Lego-phile and shaped-cake baker, that vision demanded personal attention. Yet I had no idea how silicone ovenware worked, so I hit the web.

Multiple sites recommend using a moist cake mix lest the dry finished product cling to the silicone upon removal. One video showed a man greasing and flouring the pan before pouring the batter, another showed a woman using it as is. One poured all the batter from a box cake mix into the form, the other withheld about a half-cup. One put the silicone mold on a rimmed cookie sheet as is, the other propped up parts of the mold with metal cookie cutters. Lastly, the cake mix directions said to “heat oven to 350° for shiny metal or glass pan, or 325° for nonstick pan.”

So many choices!

I opted for Betty Crocker’s “Super Moist Butter Recipe Yellow” mix. Classic minifigs, after all, have yellow skin. Having two pans, I greased and floured one and used the other as is. I bought two cake mixes but made only one initially, to see how much of the pan it would fill, then decided to mix the second box and put a full batter in each pan. I set the filled pans on an insulated (2 layer with air between) cookie sheet, and started the oven at 325,° cranking it to 350° when the batter was still jiggling after more than 30 minutes.

The results?

Don’t bother with the grease and flour, both cakes came out effortlessly. Also, don’t bother with propping the sides to hold shape. Un-propped, my cakes shaped fine.

The cakes rose too high before they were done, and while you always should cut some off to make a flat surface before laying face side up (literally in this case, as the mold has a face), I ended up cutting a lot of cake away before even removing it from the mold. I will definitely use less batter per pan next time.

Because of the low-temperature choice, the extra batter or the insulated cookie sheet — probably all three — the cake took too long to bake through, causing some blackening, notably the toes of the feet, the chest and the front of the face.

I searched the web for the “best icing for decorating a cake” and picked the buttercream icing included here.

Alas, two choices conspired against a better finished product.

First, while we had old-fashioned liquid food coloring in the cupboard, I wasn’t sure how much was left, and bought some Betty Crocker “Gel Food Color,” not realizing it was in “neon colors.” Traditional coloring sets have the three primary colors plus green, and dispenses in controllable drops for more accurate mixing to make other colors. The “neon” came in pink, purple, orange and lime green, with no easy way to control amounts while mixing, and no easy way to know which colors would mix to what. Unable to quickly concoct a basic yellow with the neon, I dug up the old color set in our cupboard for yellow hands and face, but it wasted time that I didn’t have.

Which was the second self-inflicted problem. I foolishly waited until well after noon to start baking the cake, and thus lacked time to mix colors appropriately and smooth and shape the icing before it was supper time.

Bottom line: The silicone pans worked very well, but require some more experimentation before I’m comfortable with them. The minifig cakes looked — well, judge for yourself from the pics.

But they tasted great, and this was fun to try.

Maybe I’ll make another go at this for our anniversary in October, giving MT’s minifigure cake some hair.

Obviously, my minifig needs none.

Dobru Chut!

Buttercream Icing (Tasty recipes)

Makes 3 cups

1 cup unsalted butter (or use salted butter and just don’t add the salt below)

1 tablespoon milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon salt

5 cups powdered sugar, sifted (I used four and it was still plenty sweet)

In a large bowl, use an electric hand mixer to cream butter until smooth, but not airy. Add milk, vanilla and salt and mix to incorporate.

Sift powdered sugar over the butter mixture. Mix until incorporated and smooth. Do not overmix, to avoid air pockets in your frosting.

Divide the frosting and add food coloring as desired.

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