Dame Edna Koala by Katherine Sabbath

Dame Edna Everage, self-proclaimed housewife megastar, is one of Australia’s most internationally recognised characters, known for her waves of ‘wisteria’ hair, bejewelled glasses and animated greeting: ‘Hello, possums!’ She is the alter-ego of comedy genius Barry Humphries and has made generations of Aussies laugh and squirm. This cheeky koala is modelling her enviable glasses.

Serves 16


Violet velvet cake

  • 2 cups (320 g) plain flour
  • 1 cup (220 g) caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup (170 ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (250 ml) buttermilk, at room temperature
  • Violet gel food colouring


  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F) fan forced. Grease a 23 cm (9 inch) ovenproof bowl and line a cupcake tray with one cupcake case.
  2. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt together.
  3. Using an electric mixer, whisk the oil and vanilla at high speed until light and fluffy. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time.
  4. Gently incorporate the dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk in two batches. Add the food colouring until the desired shade is reached and gently mix until just combined, being careful not to over-mix.
  5. Fill the cupcake case with batter and pour the rest into the ovenproof bowl. Bake the cupcake for 10–15 minutes and the bowl cake for 45–50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the bowl for 1 hour, then turn onto a wire rack, upside down, to cool completely. Cover and set aside until needed.


Vanilla bean Swiss meringue buttercream

  • 1½ cups (330 g) caster sugar
  • 8 large egg whites
  • 2 cups (500 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • Pink and violet gel food colouring


  1. Put the sugar and egg whites in a heatproof glass bowl. Set the bowl over
    a pan of gently simmering water and whisk until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is slightly warm to the touch. Remove from the heat.
  2. Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until the mixture has formed stiff and glossy peaks (about 10–15 minutes).
  3. Add the butter in three batches, beating until incorporated after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat until fluffy. Tint half of the buttercream pink and the other half violet. Cover and set aside in a cool place.


Assembly and decoration

  • ½ cup (150 g) lemon curd (page 246 or store-bought)
  • 4 toothpicks

Black liquorice rope

  • 1 liquorice roll
  • 200 g (7 oz) dark chocolate melts
  • Black oil-based or powdered chocolate colouring (optional)
  • Silver cachous
  • 10 gummy jubes, halved lengthways
  • 2 liquorice allsorts


  1. Using a long, thin knife, trim the bowl cake and cupcake so they’re level. Cut the cupcake in half vertically to make two ears. Cut the bowl cake in half horizontally to make two layers.
  2. Working on a cake turntable or lazy Susan, secure the bottom layer of cake onto a cake board or serving plate with a dollop of pink buttercream and then gently twist in place. Use an offset spatula to cover the top of the cake with a layer of pink buttercream, spreading it right to the edge.
  3. Fill a piping bag with pink buttercream and pipe a 1 cm (½ inch) barrier around the edge of the cake to create a ‘dam’ (see page 239). Fill the ‘dam’ with lemon curd and gently place the second cake layer on top.
  4. Using an offset spatula, gently crumb coat the cake with pink buttercream (see page 240). Spread the buttercream over the cupcake ears. Attach the ears to the sides of the head, with the top of the cupcakes facing forwards, and secure with toothpicks. Chill the cake in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
  5. Apply a final layer of pink buttercream to the chilled cake and use a small cake scraper to smooth the buttercream (see page 241).
  6. Slice the liquorice rope and the liquorice roll to make the eyes, nose and mouth. Gently embed them into the cake.
  7. Apply a small amount of violet buttercream to the centre of the ears.
  8. Fill a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle with the violet buttercream. Pipe waves of hair onto the cake.
  9. Melt the dark chocolate using either the microwave or double-boiler method (see page 245). Tint with black chocolate colouring, if using. Spoon the chocolate into a piping bag with the tip cut off at 2–3 mm (⅛–1⁄16 inch). Trace the glasses template opposite onto a sheet of baking paper. Pipe the outline of the glasses and then fill in with more chocolate. Apply a second layer of chocolate if needed. Before the chocolate sets, quickly decorate the glasses with the silver cachous. Leave the glasses to set completely (you can speed this up by placing them in the freezer or refrigerator for 10–15 minutes).
  10. Gently embed the chocolate glasses onto the cake, using some left-over buttercream to stick them if needed. Adorn the cake with the gummy jubes, and use the liquorice allsorts for earrings.



Decorating Tile

If you don’t wish to make the glasses out of chocolate, look for Dame Edna tribute sunglasses in costume stores and online. Simply unscrew the arms when using on the cake. They can be put back together afterwards.



This cake can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. It’s best served at room temperature.

Recipe and image from Bake Australia Great by Katherine Sabbath, published by Murdoch Books RRP $39.99

Bake Australia Great by Katherine Sabbath

Bake Australia Great by Katherine Sabbath

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