Monday, May 17, 2010

Mock Boxed Cake Mix

My beloved husband is celebrating a birthday this week. Since we have other things going in the coming days, I threw a little party for him on Saturday night. Nothing fancy, just a few of our favourite people, a considerable amount of alcohol and our unfinished basement (where I can be sure nothing will get ruined).

Paul is not a fancy guy. Particularly when it comes to food. His all-time favourite cake is boxed Betty Crocker yellow cake mix with chocolate icing. This was great in pregan days, because I was a horrible baker and the opportunity for screw-ups is greatly minimized when the cake comes in a box.

(Note that I said minimized and not eliminated. I did screw it up more than once. Actually, I can't remember a time that it wasn't completely mangled, or burnt on the bottom, or a gooey mess on the inside.)

I've never actually read the box to see if it is vegan-friendly so I can't guarantee that it's not, but odds are that "modified milk ingredients" are somewhere on that list. Even if, by some miracle, it was vegan-friendly, I'd imagine there's some pretty funky chemicals and preservatives strewn about within that box that make baking the cake from scratch all the more appealing.

I was kind of nervous about embarking on this adventure, because it is his favourite kind of cake and I am not the greatest baker to begin with, let alone in situations where I am trying to copycat something without using any of the same ingredients.

I recruited my copy of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I made a double batch of golden vanilla cupcakes and split the batter between two 9" spring form pans. Isa's secret to making really golden vanilla cupcakes is sprinkling turmeric into very warm soy milk and allowing it to boil until the milk turns a lovely shade of yellow. While I don't see this as necessary when making golden vanilla cupcakes just for the sake of making golden vanilla cupcakes, I was trying to mimic Betty's lovely yellow hue and the turmeric definitely did the trick.

I baked them at 350F as per usual, but it took about double the time to bake (approximately 40 minutes until a knife came out of the centre clean). I topped it off with chocolate buttercream frosting and then made a half batch of vanilla buttercream, just so I could do a little writing on the cake.

As you can tell by the above pictures, the cake was an eyesore. There is not a creative bone in my body and when it comes to artistic endeavours I have the patience of a five-year-old. The good news is that it tasted really, really good and the birthday boy was very pleased with it.

[As an aside, does anyone know where I can get soy-based birthday candles like the numbered ones pictured above? They are paraffin so technically they are vegan-friendly in the traditional sense of the term, but I would hardly consider anything petrol-based vegan-appropriate, particularly in light of all of the animals massacred in the Gulf oil spill.]

So, it was a good night. Although I did learn one thing on Saturday: leave mixology to the professionals. We decided to try our hand at inventing drinks and ended up something we affectionately named "battery acid", because it was the only term we could think of to describe its flavour (and appearance).

Other than the horrible gut rot on Sunday morning, it was a good night.

Some of the girls (I'm on the far left)

Some of the boys

And this is a picture of Celebration dip, which I have posted about before, just because I wanted to show you the cute hot pepper dish my mom got for me in Florida.

P.S. I have no idea why pictures on old blog posts are not showing up. I'm inclined to blame Photobucket. Please sit tight, hopefully the technical glitch will be resolved shortly.


Trinity (of haiku tofu) said...

I think that cake is pretty! Happy Birthday, Paul!

The Voracious Vegan said...

Ooooh looks like the cake turned out beautifully! If it tasted good that is ALL that matters, and it really looks delicious! Glad you had a great night, everyone looks so happy!

Mihl said...

Happy birhtday to your boyfriend! Your cake is definitely not an eyesore and your bf is lucky to have such a wonderful girlfriend!

Mary said...

Thanks all! I'll definitely be making it again, so easy to do :)

Kris said...

I want some cake!

Mary said...


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