Thursday, August 1, 2013

8/28 Cooking Challenge - Highlander Homecookin' (and some other stuff)

Christopher and I have a bunch of things going on this weekend. They kind of mostly came out of the blue - including the fact that we're invited to FOUR events on Saturday, all within the span of about 3pm to 8pm. (Yeah... no... that's not gonna happen.)

For one of the events, we were asked to bring a sweet treat. So I started thinking of things to take and thought of some bars I had a while back that were cake on the bottom, but then a layer of half-melted mini-marshmallows, topped with salted peanuts. Basically, they're a Salted Nut Roll in a bar. But then other people started talking about bringing salty things, so I figured that the sweet things should probably truly be sweet.

But it's been one of those weeks where nothing seems to click, and I was stumped on something else to take. Christopher turned to me and said "Why don't you do an 8/28 thing?" To which I immediately replied "The next book I'm using doesn't have the kind of food that you can take to an event." (In case you're wondering, it's a book of abelskiver - aka filled pancake - recipes, which I was given for my birthday.) I went through a few dessert cookbooks I have, but no matter how I worked the 8/28, nothing was working (I kept getting recipes for frostings or fillings, for some reason.) As desperation set in, though, I realized that the cookbook I'd received just before the abelskiver one was a copy of "Highlander Homecookin'" from the Scotland (SD) Parent Teacher Organization, which my mom gave me.

I checked the Index's 8th page. It only had one column, so I counted down 28 items and found "Taste of Rainbow" on the second line from the bottom. I don't know if you follow much Minnesota news, or if you know that the gay pride flag has rainbow stripes (it does), but today is the day that same-sex marriages became legal in the state of Minnesota. I wasn't sure what "Taste of Rainbow" was, but I knew that as long as it was a dessert I was going to be making it.

Ingredients were few, since it starts with a box cake mix:

(Yes, we bought the jug o' oil at Costco.)
I love ingredient lists like this, because they're specific, and all right there in front of you.

Check it out, if Christopher and I had met on 8/29, we'd have been taking "Thin Pancakes", instead.
You start by simply making the cake batter, for which I used a whisk, instead of a mixer. Not because we don't have a mixer (which I'm sure you're thinking, since we don't have a microwave), but because it's a cake mix. How hard is it to whisk a cake mix? I mean... I was even able to whisk and shoot a photo at the same time:
(In all honesty, we have two stand mixers, two hand mixers, and a stick blender. That's what happens when you combine two households and both people like to cook.)
Then you separate the batter into six bowls (it ends up being right about 3/4 cup of batter per bowl) and add the food coloring, which I find is best added by putting the droplets in designs into the batter. While counting aloud, of course. (Count von Count sound effects and maniacal laughter is optional, though highly recommended.)

Then you stir both your set of primary colors and your set of secondary additive colors. (Check it out - color theory discussion along with the baking and the gay pride stuff!)

At this point, the colors looked really cool. The consistency was still cake-batter-y, but it just looked totally different. Like really thick tempera paints. I totally wanted to play with them, but I figured that would be a) really messy; and, b) detrimental to the finished product.

The recipe said that you should use 16 muffin cups, and fill them each a little at a time. I thought "16? The cake box says 24. I'll do 18, just in case." Umm... yeah... I should have trusted the recipe. I totally ran out of purple on the 16th cupcake.

I totally admit that I thought there would be enough batter of each color to fill the whole cup, so that you'd end up with layers. In my mind, I guess I was kind of expecting that when I was done, I'd end up with something like this:

(From my heroes in the Betty Crocker kitchens.)
Instead, as I added color upon color, I kept getting these weird, yet seriously fun, color palettes.

The red... umm... it looked a lot less "bodily" in person. But you can see how there is red, orange, yellow, and green visible in all of those. Kinda cool.

So, at this point, they go into the oven. Because, ya know, that's what you do with cupcakes. You bake them.

This gave me a chance to move the sprinkler out in the yard, and to do a little of the clean-up in the kitchen. But, first, I noticed how the dribbled cake batter on the sides of the white bowls kind of looked like something you see at a Disney park. There's always that set of props off to the side where you're sure that Mickey had just been there painting his heart out. And... well... that's what these looked like to me, so I took a picture or two:

I think that color of orange is totally Tigger color.
Don't those look like some kind of gas giant planets? 
Did I distract you long enough with those other pictures so that you've forgotten how gorgeous that rainbow layer cake was? You see, this is what they looked like when they came out of the oven: 

On the one hand, I really like the abstract nature of the colors. On the other hand, I looked at them and immediately thought "I wonder if the dye in them causes them to be different weights and so they bubbled up differently - or whether the outsides cooked first, and then they kind of shifted." Back on the first hand, I was a little bummed that they weren't going to be stripey, but I figured they would probably still taste good.

So of course I had to try one.

(I know that the plate really reflected the flash, but I love how the stripes showed up on the cupcake wrapper.)
Of course, if you were paying attention early on, you noticed the tub o' frosting. So these are now subtle, innocent white cupcakes. But if there's anything I've learned through the years, it's that the most subtle and innocent things - and people - are usually hiding something much more interesting inside.

So, here's to all of the people celebrating marriage equality, today (and in the future), in Minnesota. May your lives forever be filled with tasty rainbows.

And frosting. Obviously there should be frosting.

1 comment:

Wendy B. said...

This looks like it was tons of fun to make. I like the way the colors turned out, kind of looks like tie dye.