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Martha by Mail ~ Turkey Cake Mold

Imagine having a beautiful spice cake in the shape of a majestic turkey sitting proudly on a cake stand for your Thanksgiving dessert table.  An exclusive design for the Martha by Mail catalog, this heavy cast aluminum Turkey Cake Mold makes it possible to bake such a spectacular cake.  Now a collector's item with only a handful of them going up for auction each year, the American made two-part mold is meant to be used for many years to come.  Perfect for any Thanksgiving feast and a sweet alternative to the ubiquitous pumpkin pie, the cake can be enjoyed as many of us sit down to partake of the bounty this holiday.  It's nice offering your guests a variety of choices for dessert on this festive day, so why not entice everyone with a sweet turkey?

Decorating any cake with buttercream is always a pleasure for bakers, especially if a variety of piping tips and colors are used to create whimsical designs.  For the adorable Turkey Cake, one can pipe different-sized feathers in seasonal colors and make an interpretive rendition of this beloved bird.  You can, of course, cloak the cake in a simple glaze if you don't want it swathed in buttercream.  Just follow the recipes below and bake this one-of-a-kind dessert if you happen to own the mold.  

Happy Baking!

"Our durable cast-aluminum mold makes it easy to create a beautiful Thanksgiving dessert.  Just follow our recipes and step-by-step decorating instructions for a festive turkey cake.  Before using, hand-wash the mold in warm, soapy water, and hand-dry;  clean the same way after using."

Spice Cake
12 to 14 servings
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for mold
  • 4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for mold
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
1. Preheat oven to 350F with rack in center.  Using a pastry brush, generously butter both sides of mold, making sure to cover all areas.  Dust mold with flour; tap out excess.  Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter and sugars, and beat on medium speed for 5 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until incorporated.  Scrape down sides of bowl as needed.  Add vanilla, and continue to mix until fully incorporated.

3.  Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

4.  Divide batter evenly, and pour half into each side of mold.  Using an offset spatula, spread batter to the edges.  For the edges of the base and the tip of the tail, spread batter up the sides of the mold, flush with the top edge (the batter at the edges will be higher than in the center).  For the head, spread more batter into the turkey's head to fill to the top of the mold (again, it will be higher than batter in body of mold).  Place molds on a rimmed baking pan, and bake for 30 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 325F and bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes more.  Rotate the pan once, about halfway through baking.  If cake begins to get too dark, loosely cover the molds with aluminum foil.

5.  Transfer molds to a wire rack, and let stand for 15 to 20 minutes.  Trim cakes flush with tops of molds using a long serrated knife.

6.  Place a wire rack on top of each mold and invert.  Gently lift mold off of cake and allow to cool completely, trimmed side down.  Place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Makes 5 cups
"You can make this icing up to four days in advance, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.  Before using, bring icing to room temperature and beat again until smooth."

  • 6 large egg whites
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups (5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1.  Combine egg whites and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer, and set bowl over a pot of simmering water (bowl should not touch water).  Whisk constantly until warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved completely, 3 to 5 minutes.  Return bowl to electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat on high speed until fluffy and cooled, about 10 minutes. 

2.  Switch to the paddle attachment; on low speed stir in butter, several tablespoons at a time, beating after each addition.  Beat in vanilla.  Continue to beat on low speed until mixture is smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary, 3 to 5 minutes more.  Set aside at room temperature if using immediately, no longer than 2 hours.

Decorating the Turkey Cake
"In addition to the Spice Cake and Swiss Meringue Buttercream, you will need a serrated knife; food coloring paste (in moss green, golden yellow, brown and red); 4 pastry bags with #70 and #68 leaf tips and #5 plain tip; small offset spatula; 1 candy corn; and 2 mini chocolate chips." 

1.  To assemble the cake, carefully trim the base of the two chilled cakes with a serrated knife so that they can stand up level.  Trim flat sides of cake halves so each is level.  Align halves flush with each other.  Spread a thin layer of buttercream over the flat side of each half, and gently press halves together; refrigerate until ready to decorate.

2.  For icing the base of the turkey, tint 3/4 cup buttercream with 1/2 teaspoon moss green, 1 drop golden yellow, and 1 drop brown food coloring paste.  For icing the head, tint 1/2 cup buttercream with 2 teaspoons brown and 1/4 teaspoon red coloring.  Spoon the dark brown buttercream into a pastry bag fitted with the #5 plain tip.  Divide the remaining untinted buttercream in half; tint one half with 3 1/2 teaspoons brown and 1 teaspoon red, and the other with 1 teaspoon brown and 2 drops red, stirring well to incorporate.  One batch will be medium brown, and the other will be light brown.  Spoon all but 1/2 cup of the light brown buttercream into a pastry bag fitted with the #68 leaf tip.  Spoon the medium brown buttercream into a pastry bag fitted with the #70 leaf tip.

3.  Using a small offset spatula, spread 1/2 cup light brown buttercream in a thin layer over the back and sides of the turkey cake.  Spread the green buttercream over the base of the cake.  Using the medium brown buttercream pastry bag fitted with the #70 leaf tip, start piping feathers at the widest part of the top of the tail, and continue down to the base of the tail.  Switch to the light brown buttercream pasty bag fitted with the #68 leaf tip and pipe the wings and the back side of the tail.  Switch back to the medium brown buttercream bag, and pipe chest feathers.  Switch to the dark brown buttercream in the pastry bag fitted with the #5 plain tip, and pipe dark brown buttercream over the head and for the wattle.  Spread it smooth with the offset spatula.

4.  Place a candy corn for the beak and 2 chocolate chips for the eyes.  Switch the tip of the pasty bag filled with the light brown buttercream to the #5 plain tip, and pipe a foot on each side of the base.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

Decorating the Turkey Cake
 with a Simple Sugar Glaze
Makes Enough for one Turkey Cake  

  • 1 cup apricot preserves
  • 2 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • golden yellow and brown food coloring paste
1.  Heat preserves in a small saucepan until liquefied, then strain.  To assemble the cake, carefully trim the base of the two chilled cakes with a serrated knife so that they can stand up level.  Trim flat sides of cake so each is level.  Align halves flush with each other.  Spread a thin layer of strained preserves over the flat side of each half, gently press halves together.  Wrap cake tightly with plastic wrap paying careful attention to the head, neck, and base of the turkey so they don't break off.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.

2.  Whisk confectioners' sugar and boiling water in a large bowl until smooth.  Tint mixture to a light pumpkin-orange color: dip the end of a toothpick in the food coloring paste and add to the mixture, using approximately 2 dips golden yellow and 1 dip brown.

3.  Place the turkey cake on a cooling rack set over a rimmed baking pan lined with parchment paper.  Use a large spoon to coat the cake with icing, tilting the bowl of the spoon toward the cake and guiding the glaze slowly, pouring so the crevices are all coated.  Start with the back of the tail, then the front of the tail, followed by one side/wing at a time.  If there are drips, dip your fingers in water and carefully smooth the glaze.  You may need to scrape the excess glaze off of the parchment, reheat and strain it.  Refrigerate cake about 5 minutes before transferring to a serving plate.  Let stand in a cool place until ready to serve.


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