Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Another Valentine's treat (or April Fool's joke)

Last Sunday night we made a special treat for dessert: Pizza Cake. We adapted our recipe a long time ago from an April Fool's idea in Family Fun Magazine. We don't use red frosting for the tomato sauce, though; I prefer to make a sauce out of jam or preserves.

This is how we do it: I bake half of a white cake mix in a foil pizza pan. (You can bake the rest of the batter in a cupcake pan at the same time and save it for another time, if you want just one. One pizza cake serves about six eager eaters.) Usually I like to make cakes from scratch, and you could use any plain cake recipe you like; but for this recipe it seems the toppings are the exciting part and a mix will do fine underneath. If it bakes slightly unevenly, that's okay.

I make a sauce from a good dollop of red jam (say half a cup), enough water to bring it up to a cup, and a tablespoonful of cornstarch, cooked together until thick and clear. You might want to double that if you like lots of sauce (I did). (Note: jam thins as it heats, so you might want to try a bit less water than the math would say; I think my water level came up to about a cup and a half rather than two cups.) Raspberry and strawberry jam both work fine. This time around I used about half a jar of E.D. Smith Triple Fruits Raspberry. You could probably just use straight preserves too, if they're thin; but I think that would be too sweet.

When the cake is baked and fairly cool, spread it with the fruit sauce. Sprinkle it with something to resemble grated cheese; some people might like coconut, but we prefer a square of grated white chocolate. You can sprinkle it on after the fresh fruit (see below), but we think it looks better sprinkled on first.

And then decorate, randomly or in lovely patterns, with your choice of fruit toppings. Since our grocery store featured blackberries this week (an unusual treat, even in the summer), we got a small box of them and put them on the cake along with sliced bananas and canned pineapple chunks. But you could also use kiwi fruit, strawberries, small orange sections, or whatever else is available. (Note if you're using bananas or anything else that might turn brown: serve as soon as possible after decorating. We made the cake in the afternoon and refrigerated it until dinner, and the banana slices were already starting to discolour just a bit.)

If you're feeling creative and have a pizza box, you can serve it from the box as Family Fun shows; but otherwise it's just fine from the foil pan. Actually I baked it in three foil pizza pans stacked together, for stability; and when I served it I had the foil pan sitting on top of a glass cake plate. I put our pizza cutter out for fun, but a cake lifter will do just as well.

Now Ponytails and Crayons both want pizza cake for their birthdays.

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