This year was the first time my son was really excited about his birthday. And the moment I announced that we would be having a little birthday party for him, he immediately asked for a green dinosaur cake as an hommage to his favourite character, George, from Peppa Pig. But I knew my healthy-living, clean-eating husband was going to baulk at anything with artificial food colouring, so I showed my son lots of pictures of scary-looking brown dinosaurs and, like any good propaganda campaign, he was soon begging for a brown dinosaur cake.
If you are feeling ambitious, you can make some little meringues dipped in melted chocolate to form the spikes on the dinosaur’s back.
My husband was more amused than impressed by the finished dinosaur cake, and one guest thought it was a horse. But my son was totally excited by the cake and his reaction was the only one that mattered 🙂
- Meringue Spikes
- The meringue spikes need to be made at least one day in advance. I prefer to make them in the evening and leave them to cool and dry in the oven overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 100°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Whisk the egg white and salt using a stand mixer or an electric whisk until it has tripled in volume and stiff peaks form. Whisk in the sugar until it is all incorporated. The meringue should be stiff and shiny.
- Fit a piping bag with a 1cm nozzle (round or star-shaped), and fill the piping bag with the meringue mixture. Pipe small rounds to resemble the spikes by squeezing a small amount of mixture onto the tray and then lifting the piping bag up to form a small peak. Try to make each meringue the same size and shape.
- Bake the meringues for 1½ hours. Leave them to cool in the oven for at least 4 hours or overnight, but do not open the oven door during this time.
- Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie (or in a bowl over a pan of simmering water). Dip each meringue into the chocolate and place them on a wire rack to dry and set.
- Cake and Icing
- The cake can be baked and iced a day in advance. I often make this cake the night before and then ice it a few hours before serving. But it also works well to bake the cake during the day and to ice it later in the evening, ready for serving the next day.
- To assemble the cake
- Use the dinosaur template to cut the cake to form the dinosaur's body, head and tail. The template is for a 23cm (9 inch) cake, but if you print the template onto A4-sized paper, you should be able to arrange the template pieces closely together.
- Place some strips of baking paper on the cake platter and arrange the dinosaur pieces on top of the baking paper. This will help to keep your cake platter clean while you ice the cake.
- Glue the head and tail to the body using some of the icing. Use the remaining icing to completely cover the top and sides of the dinosaur.
- While the icing is still fresh, stick the meringue spikes on the dinosaur's back. Decorate the dinosaur however you wish. I made a simple thick icing (using icing sugar and water) and coloured it with a few drops of green food colouring to form the dots on the body.
- Carefully remove the strips of baking paper and leave the cake to set for at least an hour or two before serving.
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If you have used this recipe, I would love to hear how it turned out! Please leave a comment below and share your photos on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using #eatlittlebird