Friday, September 18, 2009

What is A Cake?

Let's face it, I'm a bomb thrower. I like to rile things up. I like to poke the bear just to see how long it takes before he swats me. If you need rabble roused I'm your Crab.

Last weekend there was an edible book contest at a local stationary/kitchen store. It was part of an annual book festival and the rules said that entries should consist of cakes depicting the baker's favorite book. Well, after the Crabby-Q-Sauce debacle, Crabby doesn't roll with contests. But of course SSSal wanted to give it a try.

So early in the week SSSal and ConnecticutJane got together to brainstorm ideas. CTJane wanted to go for a classic approach while SSSal wanted to think of something a bit more contemporary. It was decided that they would have two entries. The first was a stack of three cookbooks topped by the Joy of Cooking in white cake and white icing.

Now this is a great idea until you suddenly realize that you have to recreate an 1100 page book using nothing but eggs, sugar, butter and flour. Enter technology. There is a local baking shop that has the ability to spray paint food coloring onto fondant. For those of you who don't bake or don't watch Cake Boss, fondant is a rollable, pliable icing that can be colored, molded and draped over cakes. It's that sickly layer of pure sugar that bakers use to form animals, leaves, brides and grooms and just about anything else they can think of.

So with the drawing of the cover solved it became an easy task to bake the cake and then drape the fondant cover over it. The contemporary cake however, was proving to be more of a challenge. SSSal struggled to come up with a creative idea. She knew she couldn't compete with the artistic bakers, so she needed a cake that caught the eye and the mind. She needed something "edgy". Enter CrabCake2.

In the space of a few seconds CC2 had the idea to end all bookstore-sponsored-edible-book-based-cake-contest ideas.

"Why not make a cake that looks like an Amazon Kindle?"

Huh? That's brilliant! It's futuristic. It's technologically savvy. It's controversial. It's edgy with a capital "E"!

OK, the Kindle it is, but what book on the screen? We turned to CC2 in unison, he paused, why Fahrenheit 451 of course. A book about burning books on a piece of technology that's eliminating the need for books. God, sometimes your kids make you so proud!

Batter, icing, food coloring sprayed fondant, black and gray candy tombstone buttons, a few hours work and SSSal was ready. The creation was entered with the title "What is A Book?".

Ann Arbor is a very liberal town; it's sometimes referred to as The People's Republic of Ann Arbor, but even liberals have their limits. Apparently taking a cake fashioned after an e-reader that threatens to put bookstores out of business is a bit of a faux pas. Well, if you ask me art is supposed to make people feel a little uncomfortable.

As we sat there in the background, we overheard a variety of comments. Mostly people fell into two categories, those that didn't know what a Kindle was and those who really liked the concept. SSSal didn't win any awards but as we were carrying her entry away a number of people came up and congratulated her on the idea.

The winner? Oddly enough the winner wasn't even a cake. It was a booklet with pages stained using fruit and vegetable juices on hand made paper produced by an employee of the store. Yeah, that's right, hand made paper from a store employee. Who would have guessed?

It doesn't matter. SSSal and CC2 made their cultural statement and we're just now finishing up the cake. As far as I'm concerned that's a win-win situation.

Back to cooking on the next post, until then remember, you can do it, you can cook.

P.S. Those of you interested in buying an Amazon Kindle please type Kindle into the Amazon search box on the left hand side of this page and hit Go. Crabby will receive a meager commission on your purchase and you'll be getting the latest and greatest in reading technology.

1 comment:

Kitchenjenni said...

Okay... I have been faithfully checking out and enjoying your blog since cousin SSSal told me about it. Love the dialog, recipes, pictures and family stories. But I do say this one takes the cake! SSSal did the family proud with those cakes. I especially like the traditional cookbook. Keep up the great work.