I never asked for the duck cake as a kid (my sister calls it the chip duck) but I've always admired it. I volunteered to make it even though I'd read the instructions carefully and not properly understood them. So just to be super sure (and knowing that I'll have to make the real cake on Friday night/Saturday morning), I made a practice duck on the weekend.
I followed the recipe exactly, using two packets of cake mix knowing that the real challenge was going to be assembling the cake. Everything was neat and under control.
Finding a chip with just the right curve for a beak was tricky - I figured I'd just pluck a few out of a bag. Instead Tony and I ate the dud chips while putting aside any potential chips that could work.
Things went downhill quickly. I burnt the bottom of one of the cakes, and all of my pieces looked smaller than the pictures in the book. I swore a lot, made lots of funny/tortured sounds and relied on a little consultation from Tony when things weren't looking quite right. Thankfully small errors can be covered by lots of buttercream icing.
Still here's my first attempt at an eye. As you can see, by this stage day had turned into night. I'd also cleaned up a lot of the mess I'd made. Crumbs everywhere.
But somehow the cake came to resemble the picture. Or so Tony reassured me. And when I could see it too, it suddenly became super exciting! Triumphant even. The final part of the test run? Transporting the cake to work and getting it there in tact. I drove normally/sensibly but left the foot heater off, so I wouldn't melt the icing. Here it is in the break room, ta da!
A few people took photos of it and more people gathered round when I cut into it (no one else was game). Someone said they'd never seen this cake in real life before. I felt cake famous. After lunch all that was left was a bow, two stale chips and a couple of skewers.
On Friday night, I'll do it all again.
This is the important bit: The cake-off is for an excellent cause. It's raising money for PANDSI, a post and antenatal depression support and information service in the ACT. They run support programs and offer free childcare so that new parents can attend. Plus if you're a concerned friend or family member, the telephone service is available to you too.
If you'd like to come along and see my final duck cake, all 107 (!) cakes will be on display this Saturday afternoon at the Hyatt Hotel in Canberra. If you can't make it but love the sound of the event and PANDSI, you can also donate online for the cake-off or anytime you'd like.
P.S The cake was delicious. I finished a slice while writing this post :)