After last year’s nauseating brain cake (check out how to make it here), and the spider cake that followed it (not for the arachnophobic among you), I thought I would tone down the horror of this year’s Halloween cake – not least because I still have to travel in public with it. So, of course, I made a cake with lots of broken bones oozing red goo stuck around it. It does not provoke the same level of visceral disgust as its predecessors but I definitely would not view it as plain – there is still an element of gore which is impossible to ignore.
I have always classed myself as pretty squeamish. I cannot stand watching people get hurt, surgery, pimple popping etc. – it makes me feel faintly sick and go remarkably white (so I am told). I can just about deal with seeing things after the event – blood, autopsied bodies on tv – but watching it actually happen… that’s a no from me. For this reason, I feel that I have nailed a gore cake when it starts to elicit feelings of revulsion from me, its creator.
Squeamishness isn’t actually associated with seeing open wounds and that kind of thing but is actually a description of the feeling which they induce. As a result, the feelings of unease, nausea and even induction of vomiting can be caused by a great many things from watching someone get cut open on tv to seeing certain insects. There is, however, a phobia present in around 3% of the population which has the same symptoms as the squeamish response but is specifically caused by seeing blood, injections/needles and injury. I don’t think I have this because I can deal with blood and I have never fainted at the idea of needles (although I couldn’t go as far as saying that I am totally ok with having a piece of metal stuck into me, it’s not my idea of a good time).
I’ve always viewed my uneasiness around bones as one of those things that is completely natural because we shouldn’t actually be looking at bones, right? They should be safe and sound, wrapped in layers of muscle and connective tissue, all covered in skin; so seeing a large piece of bone – or large quantity of blood – means that something has gone very wrong. There is no reason to have your bones on display other than showing your teeth to someone.
This cake didn’t start cause me discomfort until I began to add the blood to the bones. The wet, fresh look really adds to the revulsion caused but that is a good thing! Normally I like my cakes to look so neat that people don’t want to cut them but when it’s Halloween, I like to go for the “this cake is so horrifying that no one can get near enough to cut it” approach.
Good luck making your cake gory as hell and have a fab Halloween (if you do that kind of thing – if you don’t, I hope you get left in peace all evening).
Chocolate and Raspberry Caramel Bone Cake
Time: 4+ hours
For the bones:
3 egg whites
175g caster sugar
¼ tsp cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract – optional
For the cake: (a batch of my devil’s food cake recipe)
150g brown sugar
1 ½ cups (375ml) boiling water
180g unsalted butter
225g caster sugar
340g plain flour
¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¾ tsp baking powder
1 tbsp vanilla extract
For the raspberry caramel:
200g raspberries (fresh or frozen and defrosted)
80ml double cream
2 tbsp glucose syrup (or another 20g sugar)
520ml double cream
Raspberry coulis (optional)
Make the meringue bones:
Preheat your oven to gas mark ½ (85-90°C). (If your oven won’t get that low, select the lowest setting and then wedge the door slightly open with a wooden spoon.)
Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks are achieved.
Whisk in the salt and cream of tartar.
Add the sugar a spoon at a time until it is all incorporated and has dissolved fully in the egg white. You can check this by rubbing a little meringue between your fingers to see if it feels gritty.
If you are using it, whisk in the vanilla now.
Load the meringue into a piping bag and pipe bone shapes onto a baking sheet.
Bake for one and a half to two hours and then turn the oven off and leave the meringues inside to cool.
Once cool, box up the meringues in an airtight box and set aside.
Make the caramel (as this will have to be cold before it can be used).
To make the raspberry caramel, blend the raspberries with the cream – if you don’t have a blender, you can use a potato masher.
Strain through a mesh sieve and use a spoon to push as much of the cream through the sieve as possible leaving only a little raspberry pulp behind which can be discarded – you should have just under a cup of raspberry cream.
Place the sugar, glucose syrup and a quarter of a cup of water into a pan.
Place this on a high heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
Allow the sugar to boil unstirred until it reaches a dark golden colour.
Pour the raspberry cream into the sugar. BE CAREFUL because the water in the cream will flash boil and could splatter a little.
Stir the cream through and add the butter.
Boil this for another three or four minutes to make sure the caramel will be thick.
Pour into a heatproof container, cover and leave to cool.
To make the cake:
Preheat the oven to gas mark 3.
Grease and line three eight-inch tins with butter, cocoa and baking parchment.
Place the brown sugar and cocoa into a bowl and pour the hot water over them. Stir until combined.
Cream the butter and caster sugar together in a separate bowl.
Add one egg and a spoon of flour and beat to combine.
Repeat with the other eggs to mix them in.
Add the bicarbonate of soda and baking powder along with half of the remaining flour.
Turn the mixer onto slow to avoid covering the kitchen in a cloud of flour.
Once this flour is almost fully mixed in, add the rest of the flour and beat again to combine.
Finally, pour in the liquid chocolate from earlier and slowly mix together until you have a smooth, glossy, chocolatey batter.
Divide this batter between the tins and bake for 30-35 minutes until the cakes have risen and a skewer inserted into the centre of each cake comes out clean.
Turn the cakes out onto a wire cooling rack and leave until they are cold.
Once the cakes are cool, you can begin to assemble.
Whip the remaining cream to hard peaks (be careful not to overwhip as it will become butter).
Place a slice of cake onto your cake board and top with around a quarter of the whipped cream.
Drizzle over a couple of spoons of raspberry caramel.
Add the next layer of cake and repeat before topping with the final layer of cake.
Spread a thin layer of cream over the top and sides of the cake.
Arrange the meringue bones around the outside of the cake. You can snap them in places to give a slightly jagged effect if you want.
Drizzle some of the remaining raspberry caramel and raspberry coulis to give the bones and cake a more bloody appearance.
If you are not eating this cake immediately, it must be kept in the fridge as it has a large quantity of cream and you do not want it to go bad!
I hope you enjoyed the recipe. I love doing themed cakes and I had seen a couple of bone based cakes on the internet so decided to give it a try myself. Let me know if you have a go and how it turns out!
Have a good one and I will be back next week with a nice, simple dish with a good amount of chilli.