Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Zombie Cake

I realize this post is less than timely with Halloween only a day away, but the beautiful thing about Zombies is that they aren't particular about when the emerge from their graves, ravenously searching for fresh brains.

I had a myriad of step-by-step instructions with photos, but somehow the photos became corrupted and so they've been taken out. Hopefully your literacy will make the compensation.

I don't know if the trend continues, but for a time in my childhood, the coolest cake a birthday girl could ever have was a Barbie cake. I never actually had one and continue to suffer devastating emotional and mental effects of having gone my entire life without that type of cake, but as one should do, I push forward.

The Barbie cake is a lot like it sounds. The baker makes a cake and bakes it in a metal bowl. When the bowl is inverted, the cake comes out in an almost half ball shape. Then the Barbie doll is shoved into the center of the inverted cake and frosted in a fancy fashion so it looks as though she is wearing a Civil War era Southern Belle frosted ball gown. From that explanation you can see why it would be traumatic for such an extensive time period.

I decided it was time to restore Karma and make peace with my past, so I made my own Barbie cake. But I couldn't just make a Barbie cake because anybody could do that and any girl could have that. I, on the other hand, have waited thirty-something years for my cake, so it had to be unique. One night, as I was lying in bed, it hit me; the Zombie cake!

As the initial execution of the cake is relatively similar, it makes it similarly universal. Imagine, if you will, hosting a party for the season premiere of Walking Dead, a zombie Apocalypse based cable television series. Or perhaps it's a night in, with members of your book club who have just finished reading Seth Grahame-Smith's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (beautiful Zombie artwork inside if you ever need inspiration). Or maybe you have seven of your gaming buddies over to play Left4Dead. As host/hostess, you walk out just as the party gets going, carrying your very own personalized zombie cake. I think there are so few other honors that would be comparable to the reactions you would get that I can't even form a decent metaphor here.

As mentioned, the first step in making your cake is to . . . make the cake. I made one from scratch because my Aunt Debbie makes the best chocolate cake ever to cross my lips.

Aunt Debbie's Chocolate Cake

2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp. soda
1 cube margarine
1 cup water
1/4 cup oil
3 Tbsp. cocoa
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs (beaten)

Mix together sugar, flour and soda.
Bring to a boil margarine, water, oil and cocoa.
Pour chocolate mixture into flour mixture; add milk, vanilla and eggs.
Beat well.
Bake at 400 degrees for 25-35 minutes.

A cake from a mix would work as well, but in my experience it tends to crumble more than a cake made from raw ingredients. I baked it in my kitchen-aid pan that had been greased with shortening and floured. After baking, allow the cake to cool about 10 minutes, loosen from the edges from the sides, and invert it to remove it from the "pan" and to allow it to cool completely.

To improve the cake to frosting ratio, I then sliced the cake into thirds and put a layer of orange frosting between each layer. I then wrapped the whole thing in plastic wrap and stuck it in the freezer. If you are going to use a whole Barbie rather than a doll pick (the top half of the doll on a pick; available at stores that sell baking items) hollow out the center prior to freezing or you will never get those legs through the cake. It matters less if using a pick because the pick is much smaller.

Also, if you plan to use a Barbie doll, make certain it is sterile by running it through the dishwasher or boiling it for several minutes. If it is new, you spent a lot of money for something you are sticking in a cake, and you might still want to sterilize it. I happened to have a Barbie left over from when I was teaching 6th graders about mummification. The information I was given at the time said that part of the mummification process included shaving the hair, so that is why she is bald. I never bothered to check if that was accurate, so if you stumble across this, don't bother commenting about inaccuracies in the process. I freely admit, I may have been wrong. You can leave the hair if you like.

After it had frozen solid, I pulled it out and put it on a platter, then changed my mind and put it in a shallow salad dish. I hadn't remembered to put the Barbie in before freezing, so I ended up breaking the legs off and hollowing out a small spot in the top.
If frosting from a can is used, it can be microwaved for about 20 seconds to make a glaze. I drizzled the glaze around the hem of her skirt and then immediately sprinkled it with "soil". To make the soil, grind up dark chocolate cookies in the blender or food processor. I wish I really had soil like that. My plants would be so, so happy.
Next, I worked on her dress. I imagine after being beneath the ground, she would have torn it in a few places as she worked her way out and that it would have soil and debris in it. I saw some great leaf sprinkles at the store, but failed to buy them and didn't want to go back for them. Chow-mien noodles make great branches. So the dress draped over one shoulder and had an uneven and shredded hemline.  If you want to take the time to make it fancy and ball-gown like, use multiple tips for differing effects.

Next I added the green skin. I covered her head to toe so that when I added the hair, the "skin" could show through. I also left one eye visible and crafted a second part way down the face as though it had fallen out.

The last step in frosting her was to add her blond locks. Some of the strands broke off and fell onto the dress, but it is only natural for a being removing itself from the ground to suffer some damage.

I made some instant pudding and poured it around the base of the dress. It might be better to use cooked because I think it has less of a tendency to separate, but I didn't think of that until later. I put the whole thing in the fridge to cool for a time.
The final step is to add those things one would be likely to find in the soil; insects and plant life. Generally available are the go to gummy worms. I also found two variety packs of gummy insects. I'm not product pushing, but these are what I used. I really liked the Black Forest version because the insects are filled so when one bites into them, guts come squishing out. Perfect! The red beetle is my favorite.

I sprinkled a thin layer of soil over the pudding and then a drizzle of the glaze made from canned frosting to look like slug and snail trails. Then I arranged the rocks, insects and pumpkins. I also added a headstone made from a trimmed graham cracker. Then I finished up by making the pumpkin vines. (You know how the undead are always buried and later emerge in pumpkin patches. It is a common part of zombie-lore; look it up.)

Keep it in the fridge until you're ready to serve it so the pudding stays set. Serve it with a knife and a spoon; the knife to cut the cake and the spoon to dollop a scoop of pudding over each slice. Deliciously disgusting!


  1. That is so AWESOME!! I know you said not to point out inaccuracies.. but I can't help myself. I'm a jerk like that. It's Left4Dead, and you can't have more than 8 players in the same game... but seriously, this would be so cool for any of those occasions mentioned, and 12 others besides.

  2. Oh. My. Goodness. You are amazing. Wish we were good enough friends that you'd invite me over to eat this with you!!

  3. I am literally dying from that picture of the boiling barbie.