Snake Cake

I did not see Snakes on a Plane. I am not enough of a fan of action thriller movies to enjoy a terrible action thriller movie. (I am a fan of sci-fi movies, which is why I enjoyed Aeon Flux, Underworld 2, and Ultraviolet last winter. All terrible, thanks for asking.)

However, my housemate saw Snakes on a Plane. Then she threw a Snakes on a Party. I am more interested in parties than in terrible action thriller movies, so I made the cake.

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I was trying for something more visually interesting. You can see the theoretical basis: a cake made in a bundt pan, cut into thirds and rearranged. With eyes stuck on. Unfortunately -- if I can use that term to describe base laziness -- I didn't finish the frosting properly. It's a standard caramel sauce, but you're supposed to beat it in a chilled bowl to make it creamier, stiffer, and more opaque. (Beating in air bubbles, you see.) I didn't do that, so the frosting just soaked into the cake and failed to disguise the seams.

Look, seams.

But a fruit cake soaked in caramel isn't a bad thing.

For this and another Snake Party snake photo, see Cthulhia's SoaP photo gallery. Yes, the other snake is real.

The cake is a slight modification of the Savannah Fig Cake from Maida Heatter's Cakes. Essentially it's a fruitcake. Do not dis the idea of fruitcake.

Put the dried fruit in a big bowl. Splash in some rum. Not a lot. You want to be sure it all gets absorbed, so put in just enough to moisten everything after you've stirred it around with a fork. Let it sit for half an hour. Maybe add a little more rum. Let that get absorbed too.

Take a big (twelve-cup) bundt pan. Butter the inside generously with a couple of tablespoons of the butter. Then dump in some of the chopped pecans and roll them around so that they stick to the butter. If some nuts are left in the bottom of the pan, that's good -- that's your crunchy topping.

Melt the butter. Mix in the sugar, molasses, eggs, salt, spices, and buttermilk. Dump in the flour and baking soda; mix that in gently.

Fold in the fruit and the rest of the nuts. Pour the batter into the pan. Bake at 350F (preheated) for 50 to 60 minutes (usual toothpick test).

Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Then turn it out onto a tray. The layer of buttered nuts should allow it to pop out cleanly. (Yes, you can use a nonstick pan. No, you still shouldn't skip the butter and nuts step.)

For the frosting, put the butter, buttermilk, sugar, and honey in a heavy saucepan. Heat over low heat until the butter is melted and the sugar dissolves. Stir thoroughly.

Raise the heat slightly until the mixture comes to a simmer. Then reduce the heat back to low, and stir in the baking soda.

At this point the mixture will go foam crazy. The baking soda turns into a huge mass of tiny bubbles. That's okay. Just let it go over low heat until it's nice and dark. The cookbook suggests that this is when your candy thermometer reads 238F. I dunno, I don't have one of those at the moment.

Pour the caramel -- caramel is what you've made -- into a metal bowl resting in a larger bowl of cold water. Start whisking. Or beating with a wooden spoon. I didn't do this part, so I couldn't tell you. It's supposed to thicken and lighten.

Whatever your level of sloth, pour the caramel over the cake in a thin ribbon. Go round and round. Or, if you've done the snake cake thing, go back and forth.

Give it a chance to cool. Cut. Eat. You'll probably have to cut it with a heavy knife, because the caramel is going to get quite hard. Particularly if it's soaked into the cake. But that's not a bad thing.

Last updated August 22, 2006.

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