From the Vault: Morbid Meals, Irish Wake Cake

One of the traditions of attending an Irish wake is to take something to feed and comfort the family during their grief. Even if the family doesn’t practice “sitting up with the dead“, a potluck gathering often is held to remember the deceased. One such dish is an Irish Wake Cake.

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EXAMINATION
This recipe is adapted from another one of my odd cookbooks, DEATH WARMED OVER, by Lisa Rogak. It is an interesting collection of recipes and customs surrounding feasts for funerals and for the dead themselves from 75 different cultures and religions. As a taphophile, I am fascinated by the many various practices of mourning the dead. Sharing food is just one way to ease the burden of those survive the loss of loved ones. Another interesting fact, pointed out in this book, is that most people eat a lot more food at funerals than they do at weddings.
So rather than talk about catering, instead, we return to a simple wake and the idea of bringing a dish over to visit, reminisce, and share a life and a meal together. This “Irish Wake Cake” is a fine variation of an Irish cream cheese pound cake. It is is simple, rich, and delicious.
ANALYSIS
Serves: 10
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3 oz cream cheese
1 3/4 cups cake flour, sifted (roughly 6 oz by weight)
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

1 cup dried currants or raisins
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp lemon juice

Apparatus
Electric mixer with mixing bowl
9 inch loaf pan
Small bowl
Cooling rack
Procedure
  1. Preheat your oven to 325 F degrees.
  2. In the mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla together.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then add the cream cheese, mixing until thoroughly combined.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt, mixing until thoroughly combined.
  5. Gradually add buttermilk and mix until you have a smooth batter with no lumps, then fold in the currants.
  6. Pour the batter into a greased 9-inch loaf pan.
  7. Place the pan on the center rack in your oven and bake for about 1 hour 20-25 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean for a test.
  8. Remove to a cooling rack and let the cake cool down for 15 minutes.
  9. In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice, then drizzle that icing over the cake while it is still warm. Let the cake cool down however before serving it.
  10. Slice the cake and serve with a dollop of clotted cream or whipped cream.
DISSECTION
There is a lot of dairy and fat, but substitutions will probably not work as well. You may be able to use margarine instead of butter and soy milk instead of buttermilk. There’s even vegan “cream cheese”. The ratios for everything might need a little tweak here and there if you go that route.
If you can’t find cake flour, you could use all-purpose flour. The difference is that cake flour is milled to be finer and it also has less gluten, which means your cake will be light and fluffy, instead of dense like bread. If you are going the gluten-free route, use a 2:1 mix of flour to starch (like 4 oz superfine rice flour and 2 oz tapioca starch).
I did have trouble finding currants but I didn’t want to use raisins. Instead, I found these incredible blueberry-infused dried cranberries. Those were very tasty and worked well with the tangy, lemony glaze.
I discovered that other recipes for Irish pound cake use Irish cream liqueur instead of the buttermilk, also instead of the lemon juice for the icing. Depending on who you are baking the cake for, that might be a welcome change to the recipe.
POST-MORTEM
This recipe came together so fast, I didn’t really have time to take photos of the steps. That’s how easy it is to make this cake. The hardest part was waiting for it to bake.
I served it with a little homemade whipped cream. Clotted cream would have been better, but that stuff takes forever to make.
This cake is so good, trust me, you will be finding reasons to bake it. People die all the time, after all. Good food is a beautiful way to honor the dead and celebrate life.

Morbid Meals – Homemade Twinkies in Tribute to Ghostbusters and Zombieland

MorbidMeals2

EXAMINATION

“Tell him about the Twinkie, Ray.”
In the original Ghostbusters movie, Dr. Egon Spengler portrayed by the late, great Harold Ramis compared the usual psychokinetic activity in New York to the size of a Twinkie. Of course, with all of the increased supernatural shenanigans, that relative Twinkie would be “thirty-five feet long, weighing approximately six hundred pounds.” The new reboot didn’t mention Twinkies, but there is a new tie-in Key Lime Slime version that is very tasty.

“Where are you, you spongy, yellow, delicious bastards?”
In the movie Zombieland, Woody Harrelson’s character Tallahassee searched everywhere in vain to find a box of Twinkies during the zombie apocalypse. Bill Murray is in both of these movies, but in Zombieland, Bill didn’t have any Twinkies either. Sorry, Tallahassee.

Little did they know that Hostess would actually declare bankruptcy and Twinkies would become a rare treat. That is, of course, until they made a comeback. During that void of no Twinkies, I learned how to make snack cakes. If we end up with another shortage, Zombie-related or not, now we can all have Twinkies. This version also has less “junk” even though I wouldn’t go so far as to call them “healthy”.

twinkies

ANALYSIS

Yield: 12 cakes

Ingredients

Batter

1 cup pastry flour (or 1 cup AP flour minus 1 Tbsp, plus 1 Tbsp cornstarch)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs, separate whites & yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream Filling

4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp milk

Apparatus

Procedure

For the cakes

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F and lightly grease your pan.
  2. Sift together the flour (and cornstarch if using it), baking powder, and salt then set aside.
  3. Into two bowls, separate your egg whites from your yolks.
  4. In the mixing bowl of your stand mixer, first beat your egg whites until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Transfer these egg whites to another bowl and set aside. Wipe down your mixer’s bowl.
  5. In the mixer bowl, add your egg yolks, sugar, honey, water, oil, and vanilla. Beat together for about 1 minute.
  6. Reduce the speed and add the flour mixture. Beat until batter is smooth, about 2 minutes. Turn off the mixer.
  7. With a rubber spatula, fold the beaten egg whites into the batter, a small amount at a time, until fully incorporated.
  8. Pour the batter into the molds of your pan. Do not fill more than 2/3 of the way for each mold.
  9. Bake for about 12 to 14 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.
  10. Cool the cakes in the pan for at least 15 minutes, then remove them to a wire rack and allow them to cool completely.

For the filling

  1. In your stand mixer bowl, beat butter and sugar together.
  2. Add the vanilla extract and milk then beat together until smooth and creamy. Set aside in refrigerator until ready to use.
  3. When the cakes have cooled, use a piping bag to fill each cake with the filling.

DISSECTION

If you want to make gluten-free cakes, replace the flour with 140 grams by weight of gluten-free all-purpose baking mix of your choice.

If you want to celebrate the new Ghostbusters reboot with your own Key lime filling, try this recipe. (Skip the graham cracker crust though, naturally, and maybe add a drop or two of green food coloring.)

For Twinkie aficionados who want the real deal creamy filling, here’s a copycat filling recipe.

POST-MORTEM

These take very little time and preparation. You can fill them with any kind of filling, even coat them in chocolate ganache. Hell, dip ‘em in batter and fry them. (State Fairs rock!) The best thing about making your own Twinkies is in having all the filling you want and then some!

Morbid Meals – Tribute to Creepshow – Father’s Day Ice Cream Cake

MorbidMeals2

 

EXAMINATION

As a father, I totally understand the motivation of the Dad in Creepshow. Though, I wouldn’t take my obsession with Father’s Day cake as far as he did. Probably. Best not to test me. Here’s my recommendation for a delicious ice cream and brownie cake that’s super easy to make so you have no excuse but to make it.

20160517_193956

ANALYSIS

Servings: 12 to 16

Ingredients

1 box brownie mix
Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on brownie mix
1/2 gallon (2 quarts) Dad’s favorite ice cream, slightly softened
Red velvet cookies, crushed
Red candy melts

Apparatus

Procedure

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350°F. If you do not have springform pans, you can use regular cake pans but line them with foil and lightly grease the bottom.
  2. Combine the water, oil, eggs, and brownie mix per the instructions on the box. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans.
  3. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 18-20 minutes.
  4. Remove the pans from the oven and allow the brownie to cool completely in the pans for about an hour.
  5. Crumble up your red velvet cookies. Sprinkle them on top of the brownies to form a crumble layer. (If the only cookies you can find are sandwich cookies, you might want to remove the cream filling, but that is up to your taste.)
  6. While the brownies are cooling, take your ice cream out of the freezer. Allow the ice cream to soften up but not melt. Place in your refrigerator if it is melting too fast. You want to be able to spread the ice cream, not pour it.
  7. When the brownies have cooled, divide the ice cream evenly between the brownie pans and spread it evenly on top of the crumbled cookies in both pans.
  8. Place the pans in your freezer and chill them until firm, at least two hours.
  9. Remove the pans from freezer, and carefully remove the ice cream cakes from their pans. Stack them to form alternating layers on a serving platter.
  10. In a double boiler or a microwave, melt the red candies and drizzle on top of cake. Cut into wedges and serve immediately or freeze for later.

DISSECTION

Invest in the springform pans. They make not only this application of baking and freezing dessert easier with an effortless removal, they will benefit all of your future baking.

Note: Pouring hot candy melts on top of ice cream a) causes the ice cream to melt quickly, and b) turns the candy instantly hard. If you are going for a gory effect, this may work to your advantage as it will be a bit messy. If you want a smoother topping, you might consider a piping bag for better control.

POST-MORTEM

My favorite ice cream is cherry cordial and it was very delicious. It worked well with the kind of gothy black and red motif of the cake. I’m pretty sure’d come back from the dead to eat this Father’s Day cake.

Morbid Meals – Red Velvet Halloween

HA-Halloween2015

Halloween is once again upon us and rather than share more recipes for pumpkin-spice everything, I opted for some bloody good red velvet cake recipes!

I was originally going to present a recipe for red velvet cupcakes with shattered sugar glass shards, with some tips on how to make the “glass”. My search for the perfect recipe however led me down a rabbit hole of great recipes for many morbid uses for red velvet. Here’s just a handful of my favorites.

Shattered Glass Cupcake

The recipe that started my search. You can use any cupcake recipe you like, or a box of red velvet cake mix, or even dress up some pre-made cupcakes. The real secret here is in making the “glass”. I’ve seen recipes that called for just sugar and water, but this recipe at FromaWhisperToaScream.blogspot.com has corn syrup and cream of tartar for added structure.

2 cups water
1 cup light corn syrup
3 1/2 cups white sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

If you have a silicone mat for a baking sheet, it will make removing your sugar glass easier, but this is not necessary. Just be sure that you clean your baking sheet pan thoroughly and DO NOT grease it.

Bring everything to a boil in a saucepan, stirring constantly. When the syrup reaches 300°F (hard ball stage), pour it into a metal baking sheet that is kept level. Cool until completely hardened, which will depend on the humidity of your kitchen. Cover with a towel and smash into shards with a mallet or hammer.

The blog has a great recipe for the edible blood syrup, but I’ve also used raspberry and/or blood orange jam thinned out with a little water to make the drizzle syrup.

Bloody Halloween Cake

For something a little classier, and without the sugar shards, I loved the look of this cake, by Shamene at SayItWithCake.org. It is a simple four-layer red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. What makes it special is the red chocolate ganache. Shamene used red candy melts in the ganache which is dripped down the sides to form the bloody topping. It looks fantastic and tasty. Top off the decoration with a handy cake knife stabbed into the top.

Brain Cake

For the zombie fans out there, this is the pièce de résistance! Yolanda of HowToCakeIt.com presents an incredible step-by-step video of how she made her very realistic-looking and yet scrumptious cake shaped like a brain. Enjoy the video!

For these and more ideas, check out my Pinterest page with links to the recipes.

Morbid Meals – Chocolate Coconut Oblivion Cake

EXAMINATION

Death by chocolate seems like a great way to go. My favorite recipe comes from a cookbook called A Taste of Murder. This killer culinary collection was edited by Jo Grossman and Robert Weibezahl and contains recipes written by authors of mystery novels.

Their recipe to undertake Death by Chocolate basically makes a devil’s food cake by a mix, and adds a package of instant chocolate fudge pudding, and a whole bag of chocolate chips, with sour cream instead of milk. This makes a luscious, deep dark chocolate cake to be sure. By now I’m sure you noticed that I never do anything instant when it comes to Morbid Meals. (If you do make their original recipe, consider using the Sanguinaccio Dolce from episode #103 instead of the instant pudding.)

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m on a restricted diet. Their recipe may not kill me, but I would definitely suffer. So this time, instead of presenting a mundane recipe and offering GF suggestions, I decided to create a completely grain-free recipe. You might even prefer this to a wheat cake. The secret? Coconut!

ANALYSIS

Makes: a two-layer cake

For the cake batter

1 cup softened butter
1 2/3 cups coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
10 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups coconut flour (9.75 oz / 275 g)
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (or carob powder)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups canned coconut milk
Extra butter to grease the pans
Extra cocoa powder to dust the pans

For the ganache

1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup canned coconut cream

For the frosting

1/2 cup softened butter
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder (or carob powder)

Apparatus

  • Two 9-inch (or 8-inch) layer cake pans
  • Electric mixer or hand mixer/beater
  • Two mixing bowls

Procedure

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Grease up both layer cake pans with butter and dust with cocoa powder.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine butter and sugar; cream together for about 2 minutes with an electric mixer on medium speed.
  3. Set the speed to low and add the eggs one at a time.
  4. Add the vanilla extract then beat at high speed for about 3 minutes.
  5. In another mixing bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Now add the milk and mix thoroughly for about 2 minutes.
  6. Add the wet flour mixture to the egg mixture. Beat together at high speed for about 5 minutes.
  7. Split the cake batter into each cake pan.
  8. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 to 35 minutes at 350°F.
  9. Remove the cake pans to a cooling rack for at least 10 minutes before removing the cake layers from the pans. Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting.

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Making the ganache

  1. In a small saucepan, heat the coconut cream over high heat until it begins to simmer, but stop before boiling. Remove from heat.
  2. Add the chocolate chips and let the chocolate melt in the cream, stirring occasionally until incorporated completely. Refrigerate until ready to use.

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Making the frosting

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine butter and sugar; cream together for about 2 minutes with an electric mixer on medium speed.
  2. Add cocoa powder and beat to combine well. Continue to beat the frosting until it forms high peaks. Refrigerate until ready to use.

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Assembling the cake

  1. On a serving platter or cake stand, lay the first layer down.
  2. Spread the ganache on the top of this layer, as thick as you can. If you want a lighter filling, beat with mixer until fluffy before spreading it on.
  3. Lay the second layer cake gently on top. Spread the frosting on the top and sides of the full cake.

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DISSECTION

Since this recipe is made with coconut flour, substitutions are impractical with other flours; even almond meal doesn’t work out quite the same. So if you don’t like coconut or are allergic, grab a box cake and enjoy with my apologies.

As it happens, it is less expensive and quite easy to make your own coconut milk and coconut flour. Just know that if you do decide to make your own coconut flour, you will need to do that a day before you make the cake, as you must dehydrate the coconut for at least 8 hours.

If you are avoiding dairy, you can definitely substitute coconut/palm shortening for the butter in the cake and frosting. Do not use coconut oil; even solidified it becomes oil too quickly and then will not cream properly.

POST-MORTEM

This cake can be made as described as a double layer cake or as a bundt cake, but in that case simply dust it with some powdered sugar then drizzle the ganache on top and skip the frosting.

This cake is moist, tender, and full of rich chocolately goodness to die for. It can be a little gritty, but the ganache and frosting tends to make up for this. Your grain-free / Paleo friends will thank you.

Morbid Meals – Irish Wake Cake

One of the traditions of attending an Irish wake is to take something to feed and comfort the family during their grief. Even if the family doesn’t practice “sitting up with the dead“, a potluck gathering often is held to remember the deceased. One such dish is an Irish Wake Cake.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 
EXAMINATION
This recipe is adapted from another one of my odd cookbooks, DEATH WARMED OVER, by Lisa Rogak. It is an interesting collection of recipes and customs surrounding feasts for funerals and for the dead themselves from 75 different cultures and religions. As a taphophile, I am fascinated by the many various practices of mourning the dead. Sharing food is just one way to ease the burden of those survive the loss of loved ones. Another interesting fact, pointed out in this book, is that most people eat a lot more food at funerals than they do at weddings.
 
So rather than talk about catering, instead, we return to a simple wake and the idea of bringing a dish over to visit, reminisce, and share a life and a meal together. This “Irish Wake Cake” is a fine variation of an Irish cream cheese pound cake. It is is simple, rich, and delicious.
 
ANALYSIS
Serves: 10
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3 oz cream cheese
1 3/4 cups cake flour, sifted (roughly 6 oz by weight)
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

1 cup dried currants or raisins
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp lemon juice

Apparatus
Electric mixer with mixing bowl
9 inch loaf pan
Small bowl
Cooling rack
 
Procedure
  1. Preheat your oven to 325 F degrees.
  2. In the mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla together.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then add the cream cheese, mixing until thoroughly combined.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt, mixing until thoroughly combined.
  5. Gradually add buttermilk and mix until you have a smooth batter with no lumps, then fold in the currants.
  6. Pour the batter into a greased 9-inch loaf pan.
  7. Place the pan on the center rack in your oven and bake for about 1 hour 20-25 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean for a test.
  8. Remove to a cooling rack and let the cake cool down for 15 minutes.
  9. In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice, then drizzle that icing over the cake while it is still warm. Let the cake cool down however before serving it.
  10. Slice the cake and serve with a dollop of clotted cream or whipped cream.
 
DISSECTION
There is a lot of dairy and fat, but substitutions will probably not work as well. You may be able to use margarine instead of butter and soy milk instead of buttermilk. There’s even vegan “cream cheese”. The ratios for everything might need a little tweak here and there if you go that route.
 
If you can’t find cake flour, you could use all-purpose flour. The difference is that cake flour is milled to be finer and it also has less gluten, which means your cake will be light and fluffy, instead of dense like bread. If you are going the gluten-free route, use a 2:1 mix of flour to starch (like 4 oz superfine rice flour and 2 oz tapioca starch).
 
I did have trouble finding currants but I didn’t want to use raisins. Instead, I found these incredible blueberry-infused dried cranberries. Those were very tasty and worked well with the tangy, lemony glaze.
 
I discovered that other recipes for Irish pound cake use Irish cream liqueur instead of the buttermilk, also instead of the lemon juice for the icing. Depending on who you are baking the cake for, that might be a welcome change to the recipe.
 
POST-MORTEM
This recipe came together so fast, I didn’t really have time to take photos of the steps. That’s how easy it is to make this cake. The hardest part was waiting for it to bake.
 
I served it with a little homemade whipped cream. Clotted cream would have been better, but that stuff takes forever to make.
 
This cake is so good, trust me, you will be finding reasons to bake it. People die all the time, after all. Good food is a beautiful way to honor the dead and celebrate life.