My lovely wife just passed a milestone (it’s like passing a kidney stone, but less painful). As of yesterday, she’s joined me in the 30-something crowd. Some years back when I did the same thing, she planned an ingenious surprise party for me, managing to get old friends of mine to travel in from several states away. Her original idea, however, was even more ingenious — to do a Logan’s Run themed 30th birthday party.
Spoiler Alert: For those who haven’t seen Logan’s Run, and enjoy campy 80′s sci-fi B-movies, I recommend it. But if you don’t want to sully your pristine mind with such things, I’ll tell you the basic plot. There’s an isolated underground society where everyone is under 30 years old. When they reach 30, they participate in a ritual called the Carousel, where they ascend to a higher plane or some such. Of course, someone in the society figures out that the computer in charge of all this is just killing them off. His name is Logan, and of course on his 30th birthday, he runs rather than subjecting himself to the Carousel.
The Carousel itself looks like a giant red modernist jello-mold or, more relevant here, a bundt cake. So the idea was to bake a cake using a sufficiently-geometric bundt pan, and maybe get all our friends together in white robes and fly around above the cake before exploding in showers of bad special-effects. Or, you know, just eat cake.
Anyway, on her 30th birthday I also failed to get a Logan’s Run-themed party together — partially because I am not a good party planner and partially because she had already planned something equally awesome for herself. However, as the day approached, I figured I could at least bake an appropriate cake. I am, after all, the chef in the family.
I had a devil of a time, however, finding an appropriate bundt pan. I feel like, some years ago, such a thing existed. But some bundt designs are timeless and some are less so, and it appeared the one that looked like the Carousel had reached its 30th birthday and expired.
So instead, I went with clean, beautiful, awesome geometry, like what might have been if Logan’s Run had been remade in the modern era (don’t do it, Hollywood! Please don’t!). I bought the Nordicware Jubilee pan, admittedly one of the more difficult bundt shapes to get right, and hoped for the best.
I figured I’d have the best luck with a King Arthur Flour recipe, and I dug around on their site until I found this one. I had some other errands to run so I went out and fetched some high-quality baking cocoa from Burdick’s and some real Maraschino cherries from Cardullo’s. I already had a bag of mixed dried cherries from my recent trip to Seattle. While my wife was out on an errand of her own, I whipped up the recipe and tossed it in the oven.
The recipe was for a 12-cup bundt pan, and the Jubilee is a 10-cup design (probably due to all the lost space from the geometric spikes) so I was afraid I overfilled it — but while it did overflow a bit, it didn’t make a mess and only took an extra 20 minutes in the oven to get to the right consistency. After some cooling time, I loosened the bottom, flipped it onto a plate and voila! it worked perfectly the first time!
The next issue was frosting. I wanted a lurid red glaze, but it had to be opaque enough so that the chocolate cake underneath didn’t show through. Some research indicated that red glaze is next to impossible if you also want the flavor to be good — too much food coloring makes the glaze bitter and the Maraschino liqueur I was using isn’t actually bright red like the artificial stuff you usually see. So I settled for pink and good flavor rather than red awfulness. Regardless, the glaze pools in the indentations and even if the resulting cake doesn’t look as beautiful as the one fresh out of the pan — and certainly doesn’t resemble the Carousel very much — it’s going to taste awesome.