Thursday, July 28, 2011

We smell a rat!

Another day of student cake month competition and we were presented a tray covered with aluminum foil.  This seemed odd. We smell a rat!  It turns out we were right because upon revealing under the aluminum foil we found a big mother fr**** rat......rat cake that is!  Yes indeed the cute little critter is actually a strawberry red velvet cake with a cream cheese frosting that was skillfully shaped into a rat! Why a rat?  This is a research lab so technically it would be a lab rat.  In this case the model would be a Sprague Dawley or Fisher albino rat. These are the ones that are inbred so they are syngeneic.  If you don't know what that means google it.

Odd way to bring in a cake.

We knew we smelled a rat..thanks to our student baker!

Quite a cute looking thing!

A lab rat never looked so good...

...or so tasty!

The creator of this really did a great job and paid attention to detail.  In addition to the body that was primarily the cake, she used a mixture of marshmallow, sugar and red dye to make a candy like substance to form the extremities, ears, nose, and eyes. The tail was particularly authentic looking and a little disconcerting to those who get creeped out by rat tails anyway.  Anyone who has worked with these animals - or had them in their homes - knows they have a tendency to leave little droppings everywhere.  Well this guy was no exception except for the fact that the droppings were represented by chocolate chips.  Most thought it was clever and funny though a few were grossed out.

A real cutie!
The tail was a hit..

...and had the striations that make rat tails creepy!

The feet can be eaten too!
So can the droppings!

The last ingenious touch was in deference to the type of neonatal research that is done which involves expectant mother ratti. So this was actually a female rat and a pregnant one at that.  Inside the rat cake belly was a rat pup made of the same candy material as the tail attached to a placenta made out of a fresh strawberry. ( This may have been taking it a bit too far.)  Unfortunately the cake proved a bit too moist and stuck to the rat pup so it was difficult to see but kudos for creativity for sure!

Rat fetus and placenta in situ

Looks like a stillbirth to me!
Once we decapitated and chopped up the body it was time to consume. The cake was very good and strawberries with red velvet was a good idea. Whether this was supposed to represent the inside of the rat body we don't know but it was fresh, moist and delish!  The candy body parts were also fun to eat and it wasn't too long before there wasn't much left.

Three tiered body of strawberry red velvet!

Getting into the meat of the it were!

Body parts everywhere!
That's all she wrote!

To say the cake caused a sensation would be a bit of an understatement. The creator said she was going for five stars and there was no argument in giving out that award!  Congratulations to her for the effort and the superior cake artistry.  Now to anyone who thinks it might be a little unsettling cutting up a rat cake, during the discussion of this cake we came across the following link:

It turns out there are not just rat cakes out there!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

It's not Mac and Cheese - it's Grandma's Kugel

For those who were unfamiliar with Kugel it is understandable that they could look at today's entry and conclude we were having Mac and Cheese for cake hour!  There is a striking resemblance.  The difference of course is that Kugel is a sweet dish and not anything you would find is a box made by Kraft.  For the unenlightened Kugel is a baked Ashkenazi Jewish pudding or casserole, similar to a pie, most commonly made from egg noodles (Lokshen kugel) or potatoes, though at times made of zucchini, apples, spinach, broccoli, cranberry, or sweet potato. It is usually served as a side dish on Shabbat and Yom Tov.  You've heard of bread pudding. Well, kugel could easily be called noodle pudding.

Carrying on the Kugel tradition!
Noodle kugel has all the ingredients of a great dessert. Eggs, sugar, (cottage) cheese, butter and vanilla.  Throw all this on top of egg noodles and bake and ta da....Kugel!  (Kugel is also the German word for ball.)
Like you see in the cookbooks!
Something else for the unsophisticated!

Yup!  That's noodles in this pudding!

Our student baker today was very proud to bring Kugel he made according to a recipe from his grandmother that he remembered from his youth. We like that! He felt it was great tasting and we were happy to share his sweet remembrances.  It was nicely baked with a golden brown top and tasted great. For some people it took a little getting used to but all were happy to try it.  For the unenlightened he  baked and frosted a chocolate sheet cake so they had the option of sticking to a traditional cake hour selection.  That was very considerate of him and he deserves extra credit for that.  Four and a half stars for originality and the extra steps taken to accommodate all tastes.

For skeptics a nice basic chocolate cake!
As said though most were happy to try the kugel though the baking of pasta into a dessert was not without its detractors.  Those whose heritage lays claim to expertise about cooking all kinds of pasta dishes were somewhat skeptical and partly outraged at this noodle blasphemy.  It just goes to show you that different folks do different things with their noodles but who are we to judge.

CHE CAZZO???? Pasta non รจ dolce!

Just let me eat my Kugel! Italy will survive!

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Brown student goes with Brownies

I'm sure the decision to have your student cake month selection be a plate of brownies had nothing to do with the fact that the student goes to Brown but maybe it did.  In any case that's what was featured today and can you really go wrong with a plate o' brownies.

Serving up a familiar treat!

Lookin' good for the chocolate lovers!

Done just right!

Our baker piled them nicely on a platter and served them up to a very willing crowd.  It's actually kind of interesting how quickly these student's appear and disappear for these sweets. The brownies were homemade in two batched is I remember correctly. The ones on the bottom were denser and the ones on the top more the chocolate chip cookies we had last week.  Actually most brownie mixes will give you advice on how to make your brownies more cake like or denser so today we got both options even if it was inadvertent...or was it?  We also were reminded how in higher altitudes you have to bake things longer to get them to rise correctly. We suspect there might be a lot of dense brownies out there in Denver.
Some were more cake like!

On the bottom they were denser and more fudge-like!!
The plate did not stay piled high very long.  People enjoyed the familiar treat and again longed for a glass of milk. To some milk and intense chocolate together are nirvana. They go just as well if not better with a cup of java. Our baker gets three and half stars for her work for giving us all a much appreciated chocolate fix.
The Brownies were buzzin' about the brownies

Even if there was no milk!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Funfetti and Farewell

Have you ever heard of funfetti? If not you can probably imagine something about it; namely that it will have to do with confetti.  In the context of cake hour it refers to a trademarked cake mix of the Pillsbury company.  This is basically a  mix with sprinkles that are reminiscent of confetti that go into the batter and decorate the top of the cake.  What will they think of next?
Cake carriers always impress us!

The funfetti cake was well delivered in a cake carrier. It's always impressive when someone has a cake carrier. It means they are serious about cakes.  This version of funfetti was a single, white layer cake with some of the sprinkles baked into the cake.  The rest made for a colorful mix strewn about the frosting on top.  In addition a circle of fresh blueberries finished the decoration and a little Chinese restaurant umbrella made the finishing touch. It's's funfetti!


Add blueberries and it's creative!

Throw in a drink umbrella and it's even more fun!

As cakes go this was basic but good and we have no complaints. Thanks to our graduate student for being part of student cake month when she didn't necessarily have to be!  Three and half stars for her creation and a funfetti farewell to our handsome and fine friend who is moving on to medical school.  We wish him well and much success and may he not be burdened with a gazillion loans when he finishes!

Off to be a doctor!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

First a trio, now a duet

If you haven't got the time to bake something you can always buy it for student cake month, however you can never get the full five star rating!  The East Side Marketplace prepared today's cakes and we got two.   Who's going to complain about that?

What's in the box?
Allow me to show you!

Not one but two treats for today!

The first was a particular favorite - a key lime pie. This brought up the obligatory question of what is a key lime with the answer being they are a sweeter variety of the fruit. So how come every key lime pie we ever had has had a sour tanginess despite sugar also being a main ingredient.   It makes you wonder just how sweet those key limes really are. Perhaps we'll have to go to the Flroida keys for the authentic ones.

A twofer for the day!
Do you think this might be a key lime pie?

Black or Brownie and White cheesecake!
This particular pie wasn't bad. Usually there is more whipped cream on the top but here it was used mainly for decoration and to provide a base for the very green lime gel slices that also adorned the top. (Last week we got lemon gel slices and this week we have lime.) The second cake was a chocolate brownie and vanilla cheesecake or that's what it seemed to be. There was a brownie type bottom layer and a vanilla cheesecake layer on top of it. It was finished with a decorative chocolate icing in a crisscross pattern.  
When you can't decide have chocolate AND vanilla!
A little light on the cream maybe!
The "official" presentation
The presentation was a small slice of each together with a strawberry garnish resulting in another serving of fruit for the week.  The berry was a nice touch.  The key lime pie was good if not outstanding and the cheesecake likewise. No one complained and we appreciated the duet of treats that was offered and give three and a half stars to today's contestant.
What's up, Doc-to be!

We are counting down the last few days for one of our cacklers who is about to leave for medical school, yes another one. As you can see he's savoring all these last moments as well as the sweets!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Apricot Blueberry Crumble

Every now and then we want to eat something that might remotely have a health benefit so we were happy to see that today's student chose a recipe based upon fruit.  In this case we had a baked blueberry and nectarine crumble. As opposed to a cobbler, this is mainly baked fruit with a layer of sugar/butter/flour spread on the top before it is baked. (A cobbler would have the fruit baked into a cake type batter.)
Today's baker and her serving of fruit!

Framed by the glass pan it's almost a work of art
As mentioned this was mainly blueberries and nectarines sweetened and baked with the crumble topping.  The two fit together very well and it was indeed very good. We even had several people who normally are very weight and calorie conscious joined in because it was based on fruit. As opposed to the rest of us who enjoy all of the offerings that come along. 
Nice golden brown sugar, fat and flour based crumble on top!

A closeup of the sweet stuff

Plenty of fruit to go around
The presentation called for a piece to be complemented with a dollop of Breyer's vanilla ice cream. Strategically this was a good idea as it was one of those things that beg for some ice cream or whipped cream thereby offsetting any health benefit from the fruit. (Like we care.)

Scremin' for ice cream!

 Nonetheless this was very well received and enjoyed by all. So we have another four star winner for the day.