Ugly Cake

Early on in this blog, I showed you how to make Ugly Cake Balls, based on my Ugly Cake. But apparently I’ve been remiss in showing you all just how ridiculously easy it is to make Ugly Cake itself. So let’s correct that, shall we?

Get a vanilla cake mix. I prefer Betty Crocker’s French Vanilla. You can also go with a scratch recipe if you like, but when I make Ugly Cake, I’m going for ease and speed with what’s on hand, and I always have a French Vanilla mix in the cupboard for emergency cake. Seriously: I donate cakes and sometimes a call comes out for one that requires hours of decorating and the grocery store is closed, so I need to be able to work through the night for a morning delivery. Oh fine, and sometimes I just need emergency cake myself.

Make the cake mix as per the box directions, but add extra vanilla, about 2-3 tablespoons. I honestly do not even measure it. I just go blort blort blort with my artificial vanilla bottle (you can use the real stuff, but I don’t do alcohol so I won’t use the real stuff).

Bake it any way you like: cupcakes, 8″ rounds, 9″ rounds, shaped pan, whatever suits your needs/desires/pan availability. Cool completely, and by completely I mean actually completely, not just warm-ish. Give it a good hour to cool.

Meanwhile, mix a batch of Alton Brown’s Ganache Recipe. I make it darker, using two 60% bars and one semi-sweet, but again, tailor it to your tastes. If you don’t have the corn syrup, you can skip it; it adds a bit of sweetness and gloss but I’ve seen other recipes (including from Brown himself) that don’t use it. But if you make fondant all the time as I do, you have it around anyway.

And if you’re afraid that ganache sounds fancy and scary to a beginner, don’t worry, it’s not. All you’re doing is warming some heavy cream and corn syrup and then mixing up chunks of chocolate into it until it forms a uniform goo. I don’t even chop the chocolate: I just break it into rough chunks in the package and put it in the pot that way. I promise, as long as you remember to turn the heat off before you add the chocolate, you can’t mess it up (because the only way to mess it up is to burn it). If you want in-progress photos, check out the Ugly Cake Balls entry.

Cool the ganache until it’s sludgy (but not solid), which might mean sticking it in the fridge for about ten minutes or so, mixing periodically. If you accidentally let it set up fully, just re-warm the pot and then cool again.

Then put the ganache on the cake. You can be all fancy and non-ugly by piping the ganache in swirls on cupcakes or, as with the photo below, you can slap down a layer, dump some ganache on, slap on the next layer, dump the rest of the ganache on and smear it all around. Note that this is a superb time to let your kids go nuts on a cake because they’ll have fun and you don’t need to worry about how it looks.

Did I mention nuts? While the ganache is still warm, you can add nuts if you want. Or sprinkles. Or candies. Anything goes with Ugly Cake.

But the one I made last night was plain and simple. Behold Ugly Cake:

Ugly Cake

Look how ugly it is: not level, gaps in the ganache, untrimmed edges, tsk tsk tsk. Now taste some. Do you care how ugly it is any more? No, you don’t, because you’re too busy floating in a sea of deliciousness.

It tastes so good you’ll make family-blog-inappropriate sounds. Someone on G+ said this was going to break her pregnancy diet, but I told her not to worry, that Ugly Cake makes beautiful babies (I dare someone to prove me wrong, hahaha!). Ugly Cake is easy and delicious, and you can revel in its very ugliness as you desperately lick every smear of ganache off of your fork, including between the tines. Go ahead, I give you permission.

Do it.

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