My extended family has a strange birthday ritual. Every year, my cousin and her brother toast each other with red wine on their birthdays, declaring,
To our immortality and amateur vampirism…the secret is eating babies.
I cannot fathom how this inside joke was ever spawned, nor do I fully understand their propensity towards the macabre, but ever since my cousins described this rite to me a few years ago, a spin-off ritual emerged. We’ve become known for holding baking days for Birthday Cakes of Immortality: concept cakes that do not cater to mainstream tastes.
Have you run away yet? No? Then take a look at the three cakes that we’ve concocted in my kitchen to date.
The Baby Cake
The first Birthday Cake of Immortality evolved out the discovery of my cousins’ birthday ritual. We pondered how to append the “eating babies” part of the toast to the act of drinking red wine without getting arrested for indecency, cannibalism, or worse. The answer: rounds of sponge cake layered with strawberry jam; flesh-coloured buttercream frosting; licorice umbilical cord. A friend belatedly suggested a strawberry Jell-o placenta.
Of the 5 witnesses present on this day, only myself and my cousin Leanne were able to dig in. Team member Jason could only stomach the cake bits that were shaved off the final product.
I know I will look back at this project after birthing our daughter in January and throw up in my mouth a little.
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My 29th birthday was the occasion for trying a cake that looked and acted like one of our favourite Milton Bradley board games. Dubbed Operation ‘Operation‘, the project called for a gigantic dessert in the shape of a man under surgery. Jason, Leanne, and I again formed the core cake-making team. Four red velvet cakes layered atop a large wooden cutting board formed the basis of the body and flesh-coloured fondant was rolled on top. Marshmallow fondant bones were precisely shaped by our guest contributor, Hayley.
We took this cake to Boneta and had a blast playing and ingesting this edible board game with our dinner guests and curious kitchen / front-of-the-house staff.
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The Bacon Cake
Our latest project focussed on Leanne’s favourite ingredient: bacon. I had long wanted to make her a cake infused with pork — can you think of a better way to pay compliment to a Filipino?
The logistics fell into place as Leanne, Jason, and I toured the grocery store on Baking Day for inspiration. The cake base would be savoury rather than sweet, the cornbread recipe coming from the new cookbook by Memphis Blues (my cousin’s favourite eatery). Use of maple syrup and Pralines & Cream ice cream would eliminate the tedious task of making and applying frosting. My recently acquired skill of bacon weaving would be leveraged to top the cake with the star ingredient; the remaining bacon slices in the pack were crumbled up and inserted as layer filling along with a generous drench of maple syrup.
The outcome was divine. It was like breakfast, lunch, and dessert rolled into one.
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Brainstorming for October 28th
The next Birthday Cake of Immortality will be for my birthday around the Halloween season. We’re currently at a loss for what to make, but there’s still time to think of something. Any ideas? Please share.
And you are more than welcome to participate in the next round…as a baker, eater, or both.