Yes, I realize that Christmas was a week ago. And I also realize that today is, in fact, a separate holiday of its own (see post to follow). But the holidays make me lazy, and, as you’ll see, my Christmas cake is not really what one would term “a success”.
On Christmas Day, I decided to make a Christmas-appropriate Cathy cake. I wanted candy cane flavor. It’s festive, sounds yummy, and I had big dreams of decorating Cathy to look like a magical red and white candy cane princess. With sparkles.
Feeling all Christmas-y lazy as I was, I opted to find a recipe on the internet rather than search my cookbooks. A Google search for “candy cane cake” quickly yielded the recipe for the aptly named Candy Cane Cake on the Betty Crocker website. Appealing to my sense of laziness, the recipe started with a Betty Crocker cake mix and seemed to require minimal effort.
Basically, you just prepare a box of their white cake mix just as instructed to on the package. White cake mix calls for egg whites – not whole eggs – and I wondered later if this contributed to my, ahem, cake issues. But I digress. First you pour about a third of the batter into your cake pan.
Then you take another third and tint it as red as you can with food coloring. I was having trouble achieving my desired shade of pure redness, so I would recommend using paste food coloring instead of the liquid that I used. Also, you add peppermint extract, to get that real candy cane flavor.
And yes, I was wearing a Santa hat. It was Christmas, for chrissakes! It’s in the bible that you’re supposed to wear it!
Anyway. Next you pour that down over your base layer in the pan.
Aaaand then you pour the rest of the white batter on top. At this point, the cake should look like a child’s crudely drawn rendition of lasagna. This is normal. I guess the effect is meant to be red and white layers, like a candy cane, but that probably only works if you’re using a bundt pan like the original recipe calls for.
Off into the oven with her. And then Tim helped to clean the bowl and spatula.
I pulled her out of the over early, as I often find I need to do with Cathy. Then I set her on a rack to cool, still in her pan.
And promptly forgot about her.
And this may be where the problem REALLY started.
A couple of hours later, we remembered about Cathy. The remembering was prompted by Tim asking “Can we eat Cathy cake now?”
“No no no! We have to ice her! And her glaze has to set!” I replied frantically.
As I started assembling the necessary ingredients to decorate and ice Cathy into a sparkly, candy cane princess, Tim unmolded her onto the rack. At first, she looked fantastic.
Then there was the first tiny crack.
Disappointed but undeterred, I moved her onto the platter and set about with her first layer of decoration – a simple powdered sugar and milk glaze. “This will be perfect as the base layer of my grand icing design plan!” I thought foolishly.
One layer of glaze on her and her face cracked. As I stirred up additional glaze, the crack extended down the length of the cake.
Here’s a disturbing and slightly pornographic close-up:
ACK, as Cathy herself would say. ACKKKKK!!
I gave up my dream of creating a glittering, candy cane princess. Wiping the sweat of disappointment from my brow, I was forced into Plan B.
“Fuck it,” I said. “I’m striping her.”
The sparkly pink sugar was my only consolation to the big dreams that had been so cruelly and swiftly dashed.
As I prepared to slice into her and eat from her shattered loins, she cracked once more.
It tasted good, although the cake was crumbly and difficult to eat. It struck me as odd that a cake could be moist and flavorful and yet crumble all over the place (including your shirt).
I left the sad, barely Cathy-esque remainders at Tim’s house so that the kids could enjoy it the next day – and the kids WOULDN’T EAT IT. Flat out refused to even taste the cake. Maybe because it looked like part of a sparkly, bleeding carcass?
Next time, I’ll let her cool OUTSIDE the pan.
Candy Cane Cake from the Betty Crocker website (direct link here)
- 1 box Betty Crocker SuperMoist white cake mix
- Water, vegetable oil and egg whites as called for on cake mix box
- 1/2 teaspoon red food color
- 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon milk or water
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, if desired
- Crushed candy canes or hard peppermint candies, if desired
Heat oven to 325°. Generously grease and flour 12-cup fluted tube pan. Make cake batter as directed on box. Pour about 2 cups batter into pan. Into small bowl, pour about 3/4 cup batter; stir in food color and peppermint extract. Carefully pour pink batter over white batter in pan. Carefully pour remaining white batter over pink batter.
Bake as directed on box or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. [Whoops.] Turn pan upside down onto cooling rack or heatproof serving plate; remove pan. Cool cake completely, about 1 hour.
In small bowl, mix icing ingredients. If necessary, stir in additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until smooth and spreadable. Spread icing over cake. Sprinkle top with crushed candy. Store loosely covered.