When Kel was asked to make a cake for a 21st birthday party with an Alice in Wonderland theme, there was a lot of musing: should a “Mad Hatter” cake be made? Something more abstract? In the end, a maze was suggested.
A quick google image search for maze cake showed that there was no particular cake that looked like a maze: it was generally a big cake with maze icing, or – at best – a maze made out of Graham crackers (a sweet biscuit shaped roughly like a Salada, if you haven’t seen one).
Kel wanted to make a cake that was a maze in itself, though, and set about looking for a maze that was simple enough to suit itself to feeding only 30 people. Sure, you could make a life-size hedge maze out of cake, but no-one holds parties large enough anymore.
She found the base design for the final maze on the wikipedia Maze entry, and then further simplified it.
The maze was planned in Excel and printed out.
Kel provides the rest of the details:
For the cake I baked a 30cm x 40cm rectangle but the same quantities make a 30cm square. I also baked a 20cm square (quantities not included). They need to be baked at least 1 day ahead, or be totally cold before cutting commences.
- 515g softened butter
- 760g caster sugar
- 3 1/2 teaspoons coconut essence
- 7 eggs
- 300g desiccated coconut
- 850g self-raising flour
- 850mL buttermilk
Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease the tin and line the base with non-stick baking paper. Beat the butter, sugar and coconut essence until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Transfer to large bowl and fold in the combined coconut and sifted flour alternately with spoonfuls of buttermilk.
Spoon the mixture into the tin and smooth the surface. Bake for 1 3/4 hours, test the cake towards the end of the cooking time. A skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean. Leave the cake in the tin for at least 5 mins before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.
Storage: Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for a week or freeze for 2 months.
Arranging the cake
Cut out the printed maze spreadsheet: place the wall pieces on the cake, and the path pieces on the cake board.
Fix the spreadsheet pieces to the cake with toothpicks, and cut the cake out.
Arrange the pieces on the cake board, then remove the spreadsheet pieces. You might need to stick the pieces of cake together with toothpicks while you’re sticking the pieces together, but keep careful count of the toothpicks so that you remove them all once they’re stuck together.
Stick it to the board using royal icing (at least one egg white beaten with enough icing sugar to make a thick paste, depending on how much icing you need).
For the path I used a buttercream icing, coloured yellow with food colouring:
- 250g unsalted softened butter
- 500g icing sugar
- 1 tablespoons boiling water
Beat the butter with electric beaters until light and fluffy. Gradually add the icing sugar, beating well after each addition. Add the water and beat well. The cake can be frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge for a day before using.
The quantities above make enough to cover and fill two 22cm (9 inch) round cake.
creamy vanilla frosting
For icing the rest of the cake I used a creamy vanilla frosting. It is important the directions are followed exactly as when it goes wrong, it goes really wrong. It was coloured green with food colouring. I wanted it to be much darker but didn’t want to add too much additional liquid to the icing.
- 4 1/2 tablespoons (90ml) plain flour
- 2 cups milk
- 500g unsalted softened butter
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
In a medium-size saucepan, whisk the flour into the milk until smooth. Place over medium heat and, stirring constantly, cook until the mixture becomes very thick and begins to bubble, 10-15 mins. Cover with waxed paper placed directly on the surface and cool to room temperature, about 30 mins.
In a large bowl, on the medium high speed of an electric mixer, beat the butter for 3 mins, until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar, beating continuously for 3 mins until fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat well.
Add the cooled milk mixture, and continue to beat on the medium high speed for 5 mins, until very smooth and noticeably whiter in colour. Cover and refrigerate for 15 mins (no less and no longer – set a timer). Use immediately.
Ice the path, then cake “walls”, then the outside edge and top.
Decorate with (bought) icing flowers, silver cachous, Arnott’s Tic Toc biscuits, crushed Arnott’s Granita biscuits for “gravel” path and green colour sugar/edible glitter and yellow colour sugar/edible glitter and a Queen of Hearts playing card.