The goddess and the scuba diver
I learned one thing last week. If you want to remain inconspicuous, do not take a jelly cake for a car ride. When Mr NQN and I were driving the jelly cake through Surry Hills with it precariously perched on my lap, it's glistening wobbling presence was like a spotlight beam into our car and people stared transfixed at the wobbling, jiggling creature in my lap. Although if you want to feel like a celebrity driving around in a car, this is a good way to get get the same effect as there was a lot of gawping, curious looks and a bit of finger pointing from the public.
When my friend The Second Wife celebrated her 1st year blogsoversary for her travel blog I wanted to make her a cake to celebrate the occasion. The inspiration came from discussions about her wedding cake which I am also making. She had given me carte blanche to make anything for the wedding and had even suggested a jelly cake. The idea of a jelly cake stuck in my head and so determined to give her a "normal" wedding cake, I decided to give her a fun, kitsch cake for her blogsoversary. I thought that since her blog is a travel blog and she had just come back from a trip to Thailand, that there should be an underwater theme to the cake.
I picked up some little sea creatures and a scuba diver from a toy store. I wanted to insert them into the jelly so that it appeared like an underwater scene. You could of course buy some of those chocolate foil wrapped chocolates if you are serving these to children. David Jones sells sells foil wrapped fish in their Elizabeth Street underpass. I can't promise the children won't eat the cardboard and foil but at least you don't have to worry about them accidentally swallowing these small toys. Whilst I wasn't able to get her a mermaid, I got the next best thing-a woman with her arms raised triumphantly which signalled her brave traveller status.
Our brave traveller rides the choppy seas!
And then the trouble began.
Failure 1: I wanted to make an alcoholic jelly so I set about making a vodka and lime jelly. It tasted delicious but failed to set. When I rang the place where I bought the titanium strength jelly leaves to find out how much gelatine to use (I used one titanium leaf per cup), they told me it was trial and error and to just "keep trying". Humph. Not Happy Jan!
Failure 2: Bespoke and alcoholic jellies were abandoned. Instead I bought some packets of blue and green jelly thinking that I could combine the two to make a sea green. They turned out so dark that you couldn't really see the little creatures within the jelly. Fail.
Failure 3: I wanted to make several tiers of jelly. When I unearthed the jelly onto the bottom tier, it split in places. I don't actually mind the look-to me it looked like she was riding choppy seas (see picture above) and it seemed even more triumphant given her pose but it would have fallen apart during transportation.
I finally got the result I wanted, twelve packets of jelly later. And I was delighted not just because it worked out but because of the look on her face when she saw it. And I now have three huge bowls of jelly in the fridge earmarked for the jelly loving Mr NQN. Win win really.
So tell me Dear Reader, have you ever or do you ever get the urge to make a crazy cake? And do you ever get the urge to do crazy things in general?
3 packets of jelly, each making 500ml of jelly in a light blue colour
3 leaves titanium strength gelatine leaves
A little vegetable oil to oil the mold
crushed cookie crumbs
underwater themed decoration (from a toy store, I bought mine from Kidstuff)
2 litre jelly mold
Buyer's tip: Underwater themed decorations can be found at toy stores. Be careful that children don't swallow these.
Step 1 - First of all, check the capacity of your mold. You need to make enough jelly to fit this mold. Place the jelly crystals in a big bowl and make according to directions. You should have 1500ml of liquid now. The blue jelly is a bit too strong to see the sea creatures through and jelly is already quite sweet so I water it down.
Step 2 - Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water. When soft, squeeze them and then add them to the liquid blue jelly. Then add enough cold water to make 2 litre in total of liquid. Allow to cool a little but not solidify.
Step 3 - Lightly oil the mold and then pour half of the cool jelly mixture into the mold. Set the timer for half an hour and when this is up, check that the jelly is not fully set but it has some body to it so that the sea creatures don't sink to the bottom of the pan (which is in fact the top). Push the sea creatures into the jelly towards the edge so they can be seen from the outside and allow this to set firm.
Step 4 - When set, add the rest of the jelly liquid and set firm. When the jelly has completely set, about 4-6 hours later, take a presentation plate or stand. Have a basinful of hot water and plunge the outside of the jelly mold in it for a few seconds just to loosen it (not too long). Firmly clamp the plate onto the bottom of the jelly mold and upturn it in a swift motion jiggling it slightly if necessary.
Step 5 - Place cookie crumbs around the bottom of the edge in place of sand. Pipe some whipped cream around the mold and in the centre to fill the gap if you are using a ring mold. Place any additional sea ornaments on top.