This Roast Chicken Is Actually A... Cake?

Photo: Courtesy of Impatient Foodie.
I recently happened upon the coolest cake store in LA, and it had the most wonderful thing I’ve ever seen in a display: a cake in the shape of a roast chicken. The second I saw it, I knew that it would be the perfect April Fools' post. I snapped some pictures on my phone and gleefully started to walk back to the hotel, chuckling as I looked at this ridiculous cake. About half a block later, I remembered that I barely know how to make a regular cake, much less a chicken-shaped one with burnt skin! I was temporarily bummed out, but then I remembered that I know the lovely Yasmina Jacobs.

If you don’t already know Yasmina, she has a fantastic blog called EatMakeCelebrate and she is a veritable whiz in the kitchen and a total genius when it comes to baking. I called her up and said, “Hey, can we make a roast chicken cake?” And, she wrote back that she loved the idea and included pictures for a cake she made last year to look like spaghetti and meatballs. (See what I mean? She’s a genius and she totally “gets it.”)

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A few weeks later, I went over to Yasmina’s apartment and she taught me how to make this cake (we filmed this instructional video). Because she has an incredible attention to detail, she also sourced pea and carrots candy as a side dish and melted caramel to act as gravy.

Yasmina also has a real knack for making things that seem to be complicated and bring them down to Earth. This chicken cake looks like something that would be a multi-day project, but using her technique, it’s actually not that hard! I really recommend watching the video, instead of trying to follow the written instructions. Reviewing the steps in writing makes it seem more complicated than it is. The best part of this cake is that icing is the “spackle” that helps keep it together. If you accidentally lop off a piece (like I did), you can just take some icing and stick it back on. Happy April Fools' Day! 

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Brown Butter & Bourbon Vanilla Cake

For the cake
1 cup browned butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean or 3 tsp vanilla extract
5 eggs
1 1/3 cups milk
4 tbsp bourbon
9" x 13" rectangular cake pan

For the frosting
2 (8 oz) blocks of cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Brown food coloring*

*If you don’t have brown food coloring, use the color wheel on the back of most food coloring packs to determine how to make brown. If you want to avoid food dye all together, add a little cocoa powder to the vanilla icing.

For the cake
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
2. First, brown your butter. Cut your butter into slices and place in a pan (preferably a light-colored pan so you can watch the browning) and melt over medium-low heat. After the butter melts, it will begin to foam after about 2 to 5 minutes. Once the butter is foamy, you are about 1 to 3 minutes away from brown butter heaven. You will be able to smell it as it browns and see little brown specs at the bottom. Take it out of the pan and put it into a dish to cool. The brown bits will settle at the bottom so make sure you scrape them out before making the cake. I like to make my browned butter ahead of time and let it start to solidify again before using it. Do NOT use completely melted butter to make the cake.
3. In a small bowl combine the flour, salt, and baking powder.
4. Add in eggs one at time. Make sure everything is combined, and add in the vanilla.
5. Add half the flour mixture, followed by the milk, and then the other half of the flour. And mix well to combine.
6. Stir in the Bourbon.
7. Place in rectangular 9 x 13 baking sheet.
8. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.
9. In a large bowl, by hand or in a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar. You should be able to see little specs of the brown butter running throughout.

For the frosting
1. In a mixer or with a hand blender, beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.
2. Slowly add in the sugar and then the vanilla.
3. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

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To assemble 
1. Wait until your cake has completely cooled before starting the “chickenification” process and work with room temperature icing so it’s easy to spread. If you can’t easily picture a roast chicken, have at look at some images before you start trimming the cake.
2. You will need two layers of cake; step one is to slice your large cake slice into two layers. Then carefully slice off the domed (top layer of the cake), which will be the chicken’s back.
3. To start shaping the cake, you need to turn the rectangles into squares.
4. Once you have your cake squared off, frost the first layer and second layer. When you stack the two pieces, making sure that the domed layer is on top.
5. Use a large sharp knife to cut equal triangles off of the two top corners of the chicken; these will be the wings. Make sure to save the scraps!
6. Cut larger triangles with more of a steep angle off of the two bottom corners on the other side for the drumsticks.
7. For the wings: Take the smaller triangle and carve a triangle into both pieces. You should be left with a sort of "L" shape; use frosting to act as “spackle” to connect “wings” to the “body.”
8. For the drumsticks, use the two larger triangles, but be careful not to slice off too much of the domed/bump layer.
9. Take the larger, drumstick triangles and position them on the remaining corners of the cake. Position them so that the cut side is facing up. Take a sharp knife and cut a rounded semicircle out of the top of each drumstick. Use icing if you need to “glue” the drumsticks to the “body.”
10. You should now have a cake that vaguely looks like a chicken shape. Place the whole cake in the freezer for at 10 minutes or the refrigerator for 30 minutes so it will be easy to frost.
11. Once you have let the cake get cold in the fridge, add brown food coloring to your remaining icing. Frost the top of your cake in big strokes using a spoon or a spatula. Ice the sides using a smaller knife or spatula. Place the cake back in the freezer for another 15 to 20 minutes.
12. After you take your chicken out of the refrigerator for a second time, it’s time to brûlée it to give it that “roasted” look. Sprinkle some sugar on the top of the cake and run your brûlée torch or grill lighter over the sugar until it browns. You can also mix crumbs with your frosting and layer that on top to give it the appearance of chicken skin.
13. Garnish your “chicken” with the traditional trimmings like herbs and lemons. When you serve it, you can serve it with pea and carrot candies (as pictured) and some also caramel to act as gravy.

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