Friday, July 6, 2012

Periodic Table of Elements Cake

I know everyone is waiting on pins and needles to hear about our summer reading, but I've received a request for information on my son's birthday cake. Never one to disappoint, here are the details.

My eldest son loves science, but he somehow thinks my cake making can defy the laws of physics. Deciding on a cake each year can be a bit of a compromise. After rejecting several impossible designs of computer games he likes, I finally suggested we find another passion of his and we settled on the periodic table.

Since he is at Scout Camp on his actual 14th birthday, we celebrated tonight. Ryan has a couple friends over and I am feeling extremely short.

And here is our Periodic Table Cake:

After trying to decide if I should cut up a couple regular cakes into little squares or just buy a small square pan, I bought the pan. With a 40% off coupon at the craft store, it cost me less than $6. Best decision ever. If I did it again I would buy two and finish baking twice as fast!

One cake mix, adapted with the White Almond Sour Cream recipe (once you try it, you'll never go back), made 6 batches in the pan and was enough squares to make all the elements plus extra. 6x24=144. You need 118 for the periodic table and some will be ruined when you try to pop them out.

There are no directions on the pan for adapting regular recipes' cooking time. My oven did fine with about 1 teaspoon per square, 350 degrees for 11 minutes, then 10 minutes in the freezer before popping them out. Don't forget to keep a cookie sheet under the pan, check for done with a toothpick, and spray the pan before each batch.

After they cooled, I piped an outline, with regular store bought buttercream frosting, around each square. Then I colored the rest of the icing 6 different colors and watered them down until they were syrupy consistency. I dolloped the colors in the center and they spread easily with the back of the spoon to the piped outline. I also watered down chocolate frosting for the transition metal elements. (A total of 7 colors, I just counted on a periodic table to see how many of each color I needed)

Some of the icing didn't harden as well as I liked, if I were to try again I might experiment with melting the icing for 5-10 seconds in the microwave instead of watering it down?

After letting it sit overnight to let the frosting set as much as possible, I used a copy of the periodic table to pipe on each element symbol and close approximation to its number. I was worried it would dry out, but after almost a full day they tasted just fine. Extra fine because of the WASC recipe I mentioned earlier.

Then I found a space wide enough, put down wax paper and laid out the cakes in the periodic shape.

It was a HUGE success!



  1. That is totally awesome. Seriously cool!

    You could try royal icing... it spreads pretty easy, but it gets a lot harder than buttercream...?

  2. You are brilliant and such a good mom. I'm married to a chemist--perhaps some year I will give this a try. :)

  3. Looks great! A very ambitious project.

  4. You are certifiably insane. And I wish you were my mother.

  5. I have that pan too. :) Being a science geek, I think it's awesome. But being a mommy baker, I can't imagine how long that would take you. You are such a good mom to do that for your son.

  6. Your cakes are always so amazing! I need you to make my kid's cakes for me. Happy Birthday to Ryan! (is he really 14???)

  7. Amazing. Seriously amazing.

  8. Amazing cake and great site redesign! Plus, I love that new picture of you!

  9. Totally ingenious! Though, I'm fairly sure I won't be stealing this idea from you...I don't foresee having any children who love the periodic table. :)

  10. I love it! My teacher always said baking was chemistry.

  11. You're awesome!
    Tudie Rose