Cooking Through Fiction: Frankenstein's Cake
When most people hear the name Frankenstein, they immediately imagine the monster depicted in the movies. The tall, grotesquely built lump of flesh given life by whom….? Victor Frankenstein.
Frankenstein isn’t the monster stitched together with human remains; he’s the monster’s creator. After reading the novel many times and even watching the movies, I think people are right in thinking that Frankenstein is the monster in Mary Shelley’s novel, but only if they’re referring to Victor.
He becomes a man so obsessed with creating life that he loses everything—his sanity, his love, his home, his respect. For what obsession would you forfeit everything?
Level of Difficulty: Average to Tough
For the Cakes:
cooking spray for the pans 2 ½ c all-purpose flour 1 ½ c sugar 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp fine salt 1 tsp cocoa powder 1 ½ c vegetable oil 1 c buttermilk, at room temperature 2 large eggs, at room temperature 2 tbsp red food coloring, or more as needed 1 tsp white distilled vinegar 1 tsp vanilla extract
white fondant and misc. food colorings
black piping gel or cookie gel
For the Cream Cheese Frosting: 1 lb cream cheese, softened 4 c sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter (1 c), softened 1 tsp vanilla extract
red food coloring
How to Make For the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil 2–3 (9-inch round) cake pans.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder.
In another large bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla.
Using a standing mixer, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and a smooth batter is formed.
Divide the cake batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Place the pans in the oven evenly spaced apart. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through the cooking, until the cake pulls away from the side of the pans, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, approximately 30 minutes.
Remove the cakes from the oven and run a knife around the edges to loosen them from the sides of the pans.
One at a time, invert the cakes onto a plate and then re-invert them onto a cooling rack, rounded-sides up. Let cool completely.
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
In a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand-held electric mixer in a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, sugar, and butter on low speed until mixed well.
Increase the speed to high, and mix until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. (Occasionally turn the mixer off, and scrape the down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.)
Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Add the food coloring until desired color is reached.
Add vanilla, raise the speed to high, and mix briefly until fluffy (scrape down the bowl occasionally).
Frosting the Cake:
Spread some of the cream cheese frosting over the top of the cake. Spread enough frosting to make a ¼ to ½-inch layer.
Carefully set another layer on top, rounded-side down and repeat. Top with the remaining layer and cover the entire cake with the remaining frosting.
For the Fondant:
Tear off small pieces of fondant and color each section individually. Note: Use rubber gloves during this process or you will be left with tie-dyed hands.
Roll colored fondant onto sheet of parchment paper. Add a sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar if fondant becomes sticky.
Piece by piece, add fondant to the frosted cake until the entire cake is covered. Be creative!
Use black piping gel to add stitches to connect the fondant pieces together. Note: I used a toothpick for this process. It’s slow, but worth it.