Saturday, 21 February 2009

The Wills Memorial Building Disaster

The Wills Memorial Building is one of the tallest buildings in Bristol. Its sheer size and so-gothic-it's-camp attitude make it look like a typical Physics student made stone and square. The building is part of the University of Bristol which is celebrating its centenary this year. We could hardly let this event pass us, so we decided to celebrate 100 years of Bristol University in a way that only Cheffervescence can - with a 1:100 scale Wills Memorial Cake.


For the flapjack
  • 1.5 kg self-raising flour
  • 3 kg brown sugar
  • 3 kg porridge oats
  • 3 kg butter
  • 1 tin of golden syrup
  • 6 tsp bicarbonate of soda
For the rice-crispie cake
  • 500 g dark chocolate
  • 1 kg rice crispies
For "gluing" and decorating
  • 1 kg white chocolate
  • 2 kg icing sugar
  • yellow food colouring
  • many icing colours

Do some maths to ensure everything will be proportioned correctly.

Now bake 12 trays of flapjacks. This may take some time . . .

Slice out pieces of flapjack to the correct shape and build the base of the tower hollow and in 3 stages. Use white chocolate the "glue" the pieces together (it works surprisingly effectively as a binding agent!).

Fill the hollow centre with rice-crispie cake. Rice-crispie cake has an excellent weight to strength ratio because of its honeycomb structure.

Look on our works, ye mighty, and despair!

"Glue" the remaining flapjack layers together with white chocolate and cut into the octagonal shape of the top of the tower.

Ice all over with slightly yellow icing to mimic the sandstone facia of the building.

At this point we collapsed from cooking exhaustion, so the decorating had to wait until the next day . . .

By this point, the cake had developed a dangerous lean . . .

Unperturbed, we continued to decorate it to the best of our ability.

Until the final, terrible, awful, monstrous creation was complete.

Everyone's wanted to attack the Wills Memorial Building like some giant King Kong monkey-man. Now I had my chance . . .

The Final Analysis

  • Appearance - [2/5]: Well, looks kind of like the Wills Memorial Building. One person who we talked to got it straight off, whilst others grudgingly admitted to seeing a resemblance when prompted.
  • Smell - [2/5]: Lovely cakey smells were overwhelmed by the sickly scent of the sweet sugar icing.
  • Texture - [4/5]: Excellent crumbly flapjack. The rice-crispie cake was a little deprived of chocolate, though, and was consequently a bit too brittle.
  • Taste - [4/5]: Yum! Cake!
  • Adventure! - [5/5]: This required 3 days of baking and preparation. I doubt I'll ever cook anything as big again in my life!
  • Overall - [3/5]: A fun, but exhausting cook. The fact that the cake only vaguely resembled the Wills Memorial Building was a little disappointing, but despite this fact, the people in the Merchant Venturers Building finished eating this 13 kg mammoth cake in less than 2 days! Maybe that says more about engineers than my cooking skill . . .
Thanks to my housemates and the amazing photographic mad-skillz of Niall Oswald and Thomas Hinton. Thanks this time also to Thomas Cassey for driving the cake about and to Jamie McPherson for cake portering. A true team effort!

Monday, 2 February 2009

Flavoured Eggs - "Fleggs"

Eggs are a good thing. When Nature expresses an egg from her bounteous bosom she affirms to us that she still cares and that life is good. These little balls of protein are full of nutritious goodness and come conveniently encased in a single serving sized shell. In fact, they're so good that you often forget that you're eating chicken babies.

Sometimes, however, do you often wonder if there's something more? That maybe eggs are a little bland and could do with some pepping up? Let me invite you to the world of the flavoured egg.

  • eggs
  • eggs
  • eggs
  • some food colourings and flavourings

Eggsperimental Method 1 - Blowing an egg

The first method we attempted was to "blow" the egg. A small hole was made in each end of the egg with a knife and a little of the albumen was "blown out" by application of the mouth to one end of the egg.

As a test, green food dye was forced into the egg using an aural/oral syringe and the ends sealed with sellotape:

In order to achieve the mixing of the food dye and albumen required, an egg-agitator was put together out of our cooker hood, string and a ramekin:

And thus, with careful rotation, the egg would, in theory, slosh about inside its shell and do some mixing. Inevitably, after boiling for 5 minutes, massive failure was the result:

Eggsperimental Method 2 - Sucking an egg

This failure led to much dejection and searching of souls. "You suck, guys!" said Tom. This must've sparked the neurones in his skull, setting off an incredible brain chain-reaction. There was only one way, and it was clear to him - we must form a seal around the top of the shell and suck the flavouring up through the bottom of the egg. Using a little albumen to improve the seal, we did just as his brain suggested, this time with strawberry - yum!

After boiling, initial results were encouraging. The egg fell apart, so we upped the boiling time in subsequent experiments to 10 minutes. Also, sellotape was banned - it went evil in the boiling water.

After a few tries, we became a well oiled machine with our spike-suck-simmer method.

The Flavours


  • Appearance - [1/5]: Looks like an egg. With some orange
  • Smell - [0/5]: Orange mixed with egg. Yuk
  • Taste - [0/5]: Orange and egg doesn't go. Really.


  • Appearance - [0/5]: Dear lord! It's an alien egg! Arrg!

Or maybe something from Dr Seuss?

  • Smell - [1/5]: The smell of peppermint nicely overpowers the eggness.
  • Taste - [0/5]: Horror. The texture of eggs with the sensation of mouthwash:


  • Appearance - [1/5]: Looks like an egg - that's been scooped out and pissed in.
  • Smell - [1/5]: Not too bad, mmm, rum.
  • Taste - [0/5]: Eugh. Egg-nog done all wrong.


  • Appearance - [0/5]: This is possibly the most vile thing I've seen in my life. The phrase "egg abortion" covers only one tenth of the horror.
  • Smell - [0/5]: Eggy-strawberry nausea.
  • Taste - [0/5]: Bad. Very bad.

  • Adventure! - [5/5]: Well, it's hard to believe that anyone's done this crime against god before . . .
  • Overall - [0/5]: Don't do this. For the love of all things you hold dear. Go and have some crisps or a pizza or something. Some things man was not meant to tamper with.

Thanks once again to my housemates for tasting this disgusting stuff and putting up with it in the kitchen. Many thanks to Tom Hinton for trying his best to make this crap look good.