Tutorial: Eggs & Soldiers Fake Cake
At now 3 a.m. in the morning, I am enthusiastically, yet gently, rubbing down fake eggs and feeling entirely anguished that they are not as perfectly smooth as real eggs. More so, I just keep thinking, “Albert Einstein was a dick.”
I don’t often think of renowned physicists when baking or ever really. However, when spending 8-14 hours by oneself every day in the rural countryside of Ireland, one must find a way to pass the time. Again, this is not typically done by thinking of physicists, nor mathematicians, nor academics of any kind. It is accomplished by listening to audiobooks and blasting through 4-5 a week as a result. During the making of this cake I was listening to The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict. The books follows Mitza Maric, a strong, intelligent woman who married Albert Einstein and is now thought to have had quite the heavy hand in the development of the theory of relativity. While the author takes care to note that the book is a work of fiction, it is fiction based upon correspondence and research, and it would seem that not all brilliant men are in fact that brilliant nor are they good. Also, *spoiler alert* how did ole Albert attract so many women? When I see pictures of the wild-haired scientist, “player” is not what comes to mind.
As for the fake eggs, well you see it is my husband’s 31st birthday and sure, I could make Mr. QBF a normal birthday cake, but I really can’t. No part of my over-achieving, semi-Asian, neurotic self would be content with a normal cake, especially for the husband who dutifully helps me wash the piles of pans and mixing bowls and runs to the store for last minute ingredients on a near-daily basis. So, on a weekend when I am booked to mass capacity, I have devised something ridiculous to make for Mr. QBF’s birthday. My husband loves Eggs & Soldiers – a classic UK dish consisting of soft boiled eggs and strips of toast which are the perfect size for dipping into the molten-yolk – so clearly, I must make this out of cake. He will think he is getting his breakfast in bed for his birthday but SURPRISE! So yes, totally makes sense to do this when I have cakes coming out the yazoo and have an entire day scheduled away from the kitchen this weekend.
Bonus: Here’s the best way we've found to get a perfect soft-boiled egg every time 🥚😊
BAKING IN EGG SHELLS
To get the cake into the shell, we must first get the egg out. Now, I forewarn you, this recipe does involve some rather serious egg violence. Mainly, brutally stabbing them. I used a quilling needled, which I reserve for kitchen use only) to confidently jab a small hole into the wider base of the egg. A wooden or metal skewer could work too.
Carefully peel/chip back just enough shell to make a 1 cm opening. Try not to get any egg fragments into the egg because like whoa. If you thought getting egg shell out of a mixing bowl was tough, just try getting it out of the inside of a shell! Then I put my quilling needle into the eggs and gave it a good swish about to break up the egg yolk to help it come out more easily. I did this with 4 eggs, the innards of which were used for the cake batter.
Tip: If you do get shell into your shell, empty the egg into a bowl and use half of a an egg shell that you have cracked the normal way to scoop out the fragment. Shell is attracted to shell.
I give the egg shells a good rinse and get as much water out as possible before -WAIT! 3 a.m. Dee here telling Midnight Dee to oil and flour those eggs shells. RIGHT NOW. (if only) Without oiling and flouring the insides of the egg shells, I set them in a mini-muffin pan, hole side up. I use strips of aluminum foil to help keep the eggs upright. If using a larger muffin pan, just make the aluminum strips a bit beefier.
One of my favorite unexpected kitchen tools are these syringes. They have, of course, only ever been used for kitchen tasks because, ew, otherwise. They are perfect for filling the eggs shells with cake batter. You could also use a piping bag, funnel, or just spoon the batter in. If some gets on the outside, no big deal.
I bake the eggs at 165 celsius for 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. It appears that I overfilled them a bit – you should aim for 2/3 full. No bother! I peel off the excess cake, do a little quality control, NOM, and let the eggs cool.
PEELING CAKE EGGS
You could stop here and not peel the eggs. In fact, yes. Stop. Stop here. Be sane and normal. Just take a syringe or skinny piping nozzle and squirt your buttercream or caramel sauce into the cake and then put in an egg cup and then voila! This is what I recommend. Yet, I am neither sensible nor sane and like to make my life as hectic as possible. So, I am peeling the eggs so that I can cover them in ganache and then cover them with a fake-gumpaste egg shell. At 3 in the afternoon, I feel this could have been the wrong choice.
At now approximately 3:01 p.m., I am convinced this was the wrong choice. I am now thinking, I really should have greased and flour these eggs but instead, I am having the most excruciating egg peeling experience ever expect exponentially worse because with each tiny fragment of shell comes off a disproportionately large chunk of cake. BLARGH. Must. Not. Waste. Cake. EVER. It’s also taking about a bazillion years to peel them.
I put the 3 other eggs in the freezer while slaving away on the first. This helps. A little less cake comes away and a few fewer curse words come out. Still takes F#%*%#@ forever.
COVERING CAKE EGGS
I slice the egg cakes 2/3 of the way up and use a melon- baller to scoop out a yolk-sized divot from the bottom and top and then fill with salted caramel buttercream dyed egg-yolk yellow. I used chocolate cake for the egg so not sure why I need the yolk to be the a true-life color but, 1:30 a.m. and BLARGH. Don't worry. It didn't take me from 3 in the afternoon until 1:30 in the morning to peel the eggs, even if it felt that way. 😫 I had to put the surprise cake away when Mr. QBF got home from work.
Using my warm hands, I covered the eggs in ganache smoothed them over. Despite chanting to myself, “Don’t touch anything. Don’t touch anything,” I forgot and scratched the tip of my nose. BLARGH. Wash hands. Let eggs sit in fridge to harden.
I color some gumpaste to the shade that matches our brown eggs and begin to wrap the egg. Turns out, wrapping a 3D inconsistently shaped oval-thing isn’t that easy. The creases! The rips! BLARGH.
This brings us to 3 a.m., egg rubbing, and my playa-hating on Albert. I am so grateful to have a true partner in life who supports and strengthens me, and thus, will stay up to buttcrack of dawn making him fake food that is real food but it’s cake so you don’t know that it’s real food. Well you know that it is real…did I mention that it is 3 a.m.?
POUND CAKE TOAST
After smoothing the eggs, not to my satisfaction but to the limits of my sanity, I try to remember where I hid the pound cake the day before. I didn’t want Mr. QBF to see it and think it was a loaf of bread I had made him…not yet at least. Aha! Under the microwave behind the mixing bowls.
I cut two slices of the cake and buttered both sides of each. I then covered them and left them for morning.
MORNING (4 hours later)
I put the eggs in their cups and use a paintbrush (only used in the kitchen) with edible food paint in a slightly darker shade of brown to flick some bespeckled patterns onto the eggs
The buttered pound cake slices are in pan over medium heat until toasted with one edge nearly black and the other barely at all, just like our toaster would do it.
I take sanding sugar and crush it with a rolling pin to resemble the salt that comes from our salt mill. Some bigger grains. Some very fine ones.
To make pepper, I take tiny black sprinkles and crushed them between two pieces of greaseproof paper with a rolling pin. Because they are round, the greaseproof paper was a necessity to prevent errant pinging about and eye injuries. I then took some cinnamon and cocoa and mixed it in to get the bespeckled look of paper.
Voila! Mr. QBF did indeed think he was getting breakfast in bed and I was very pleased with myself when I noticed him looking sideways at one of the eggs. “Why is it lumpy?” BLARGH. He then picked it up and realized it was cake and started laughing. I then collapsed into Dee-shaped lump of exhaustion before remembering I had 2 other cakes to finish.
Pound cake recipe coming your way soon! What is the latest night you’ve had in the kitchen?