Monday, September 10, 2007

All we do is cakes

T-15 once hosted an annual party at his ancestor’s rambling estate in central Maryland where several amazing things happened. Foremost, wearing nothing but cargo pants and a World War I-era pointed German helmet, I drove a go-cart with no hands into a field of corn/poison ivy because I had a homemade 40 ounce beers duct taped to my hands. Frustrated, I threw an apple into the woods where it hit some girl in the face while she was jumping on a trampoline. True story.*

The second amazing thing that happened was I baked a cake for the party with the Vice President’s face on it. I honestly don’t remember what stimulated this feat but I’m sure at the time it was quit hilarious. According to this adorable golden retriever puppy calendar I keep on my desk, it was the same summer that he and Vermont’s senior Senator exchange unpleasantries on the chamber’s floor. Here’s all that remains…

With every new party it came to be expected that there would be a fresh new cake with a fly new theme. But like the party itself, the expectation for the cake became more of a spectacle than the event itself. Each new attempt brought a lingering sense of disappointment, even as my baking skills increased. In the past year there’d been a sense that both traditions may be thankfully winding down.

But then T-15 went and got all engaged and stuff and it seemed necessary that if there was to be one final party (wedding) there needed to be one final cake. Especially with (now confirmed) rumors that in lieu of wedding cake there would be several wedding pies. Pie? At a wedding? Not only delicious but the opportunity to get blueberry stained on your suit is so much greater!

So what to do? Bringing a cake to the wedding itself seemed misguided as my cake would certainly upstage any pie, no matter how boysenberry-ish. So I aimed for the rehearsal dinner which fell on a Friday and a 13th.

Thank you, Mr. Voorhees, we have a theme. Firstly, I needed blood and lots of it. Secondly, this cake required at least 4 layers to hold the blood. Thirdly, I needed more blood.

The cake and frosting portion of this experiment seemed pretty straightforward. I bought two cans of the second cheapest frosting and two boxes of the yellow cake with the least amount of written instructions. But the blood had me vexed. When trying to explain these types of projects I tend to confuse and annoy most folk so talking the butcher into supplying me with the real stuff was probably out of the question. Susan B Anthony always warned you always catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar but what of some sort of blood/sugar concoction? Will is smell? Will there be sharks? Too many questions.

I wandered the grocery store looking for a possible solution. Strawberry Quik looked awfully pink. Strawberry and raspberry sauce, jams and jellies were all too chunky. I did have some lingonberry jam I picked up at Ikea that was the right color but the little lingonberries made it look too much like brain matter. I didn’t want my ingredients limiting me into doing some sort of head wound cake only.

Then I remembered the crappy and impossible to clean blender we got as a prize for getting married. If I was going to do this right, I couldn’t rely on pre-made blood. I needed to make my own. And fortunately raspberries were on sale. Tada.

I put the raspberries in the microwave first so they’d be a little mushy and they blended up real nice. The only problem was the little seeds. Good thing I’d bought a fencing foil at Herman’s Sporting Goods right before they went out of business. (Also Boy Scout merit badges I hadn’t earned. Re: porcine studies.)

Gravity wasn’t working hard enough to pull the goop into the bowl so I forced it through with a soup ladle. The result was pure seedless raspberry blood. It was a bit tart so I mixed in a few tablespoons on sugar.

Originally, my plan for this thing was to just have a white cake with buckets of blood on top and maybe a machete sticking out. But the blood turned out too well just to be splattered around like a hobo massacre. Could the blood be in the cake? Not cooked into the cake with some marble effect. But could the cake actually bleed when you cut into it? Let’s find out.

I baked four cakes. After letting them cool, I popped one out of the pan and used a spoon to dig a small divot. The original plan was to pour the blood into the hole. But I figured too much of it up would be sponged up and I’d just have a red and raspberry flavored cake. And soggy.

So I frosted the hole to hopefully give myself a moderate seal.

Repeat three times and stack.

The only problem with this plan is that it used up an absurd amount of frosting. After 2 additional trips to the grocery store, I ended up using an insane 5 cans. But as far as I could tell the thing was holding. The center hadn’t collapsed in on itself meaning I hadn’t dug too deep. But too be sure, I stuck the whole thing in the freezer to help it set.

Now we needed the rest of the decorations. Any attempt to draw a Jason mask would end in a Jason Takes Manhattan-type failure. The G is the master decorator and she wasn’t around. I was going to have to cheat. Off to the local costume shop!

Our neighborhood costume depository doubles as a tuxedo rental store. Actually, it functions as a tuxedo rental store with the costume part sort of existing only for Halloween, high school mascots and crackpots like myself. As soon as I walked in, three Italians swarmed me with their cloth tape measures looking to get at my in-seem. Sorry, sirs, but I’m not here for your fine woolen wares. Can you point me to your hockey masks?

There was one young girl in the back reading a ratty copy of Flowers In the Attic and guarding the costumes. She jumped up and asked if she could help. Fake mustache? Giant foam cowboy hat? Unnecessarily frightening Slipknot mask? No Ma’am. Jason mask and possibly a plastic machete, please. Done, she said.

Once home, attaching the mask was easy enough. I used toothpicks to keep it from settling directly on the frosting and added a little blood to the front and back to give it splash of color. I’d have to say I was pretty much done.

It was a huge hit. But when the bride cut into it…

It bled, but not as much as I’d hoped. I’m not sure if it was practical to think this would be a gusher. The cake was probably not deep enough to hold the required amount of overflow blood. Ah well. That’ll be another cake for another day.

So how did it taste? Honestly, it was unbelievably good. Two bridesmaids, an aunt and possibly a grandmother said so. The cake part itself was pretty average. But if you were take four carpet samples and cover them with 5 cans of vanilla frosting and fresh raspberry sauce it would also taste awesome. Let’s say Queen Victoria 1899 Christmas Dinner awesome. That’s right, woodcock pie awesome.

So there you have it. If you’re looking to make a blood filled cake, you now have a blueprint. It isn’t perfect but it should serve you well enough.


*Actually, all true parts of several combined stories from the same party. Though, they did not happen in that quick a succession.


The Governess said...

god. i really want cake now.

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