Tonight, the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers gather for an evening of crappy holiday-themed horror movies. We mock, chat… and snack. Last year, I brought a cheese ball shaped (more or less) like HellRaiser’s Pinhead and Elsa brought a pan of severed fingers that tasted oddly like pigs in a blanket. For this year’s party, Elsa and I whipped up a couple skull cakes. Skull Cakes? I grabbed the last two skull pans at Williams-Sonoma in the Hallowe’en sales. I put them both to good use and made two different kinds of skull: a Bone-White Sugar Skull and a Banana Nut Head.
Sugar Skull White Cake:
I should level with y’all: I hate white cake. It’s about the most boring dessert around IMHO, but when I thought skull cake, I thought bone-white so I opted for the palest pre-packaged white cake mix at the mega-mart. Honestly though, I didn’t think this through. It’s only the center of a white cake that is actually white; the outside is golden brown. To liven it up a bit, I decided to douse it with a bit of “holiday cheer” and decorate it like a Day of the Dead sugar skull. Still, it was just a white cake…
The Box Recipe called for three egg whites, 1/3 cup of cooking oil and 1 & 1/4 cups of water. (Note to self: next time experiment substituting white rum instead of the water.) The skull pan can produce a full skull but each half requires a box of mix. I didn’t really want to end up with that much white cake so I decided to make only the face. The next time, I wonder if some kind of jelly center could be baked into the skull for a gory surprise when serving.
Banana Nut Head
The Banana Nut Head used a recipe that Elsa’s family literally brought back from Bermuda more than three decades ago, possibly one crafted by a real witch-doctor… though more probably just one inscribed on a souvenir cutting board. Whatever its mysterious origins, Bermuda Banana Bread is a solid and easy recipe, one that’s made good use of our too-ripe bananas for years.
The ingredients are added in this order: 1/2 cup butter, 1 cup sugar, three eggs, three or more bananas crushed, a teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in a little water, 2 cups of flour, and 1/4 cup of chopped nuts. Next mix until combined, and then bake at 350F for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
The secret ingredient for “party” banana bread (as opposed to what we usually eat) was a 1/4 cup of brandy poured over the cooled head as it sat in a deep dish. Don’t let its comparatively plain appearance fool you; of the pair, this head smelled the most delicious.
Watch for more posts on future cranial culinary exploits. I don’t see the Skull Cake phenomena ever getting old!