It’s not exactly where you’d expect to find a bake sale - in an old warehouse, down a damp cobbled street in London’s East End. But then, it’s no ordinary bake sale.
Just in time for Halloween, a group of London cake makers have made it their task to create some of the most disgusting-looking, unappetizing cakes imaginable.
Anybody fancy a tentacle flapjack, or a bleeding wound cupcake? How about a chocolate severed hand, a scarred flesh rocky road, or an oozing eyeball? Didn’t think so.
Tired of baking cupcakes in pastel shades, topped with edible baby shoes, or ornate white wedding cakes, these women (and a few men) have contributed to the Eat Your Heart Out, "Feed The Beast" pop-up cake shop at The Rag Factory in Brick Lane, supported by The Kraken Rum.
The Eat Your Heart Out project is in its third year and this time includes nasty treats produced by over a dozen bakers. At Halloween who wants to eat cakes that actually look tasty? (Eye don’t!)
“The point is that even though they look disgusting they have to taste delicious,” said organizer Emma Thomas, or Miss Cakehead, as she is otherwise known. “They can’t both look and taste disgusting,” she added.
I decided to try a bright green slimy "Wounded Mermaid Skin" cupcake from Denise Bakes Cakes, topped with red oozing blood. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t a light vanilla sponge with a thick creamy vanilla ganache. Look past their revolting exteriors and these are expertly made, utterly delicious cakes.
“It’s nice making pretty cakes, but it’s good to have some variety,” said Denise Steele of Denise Bakes Cakes, who admitted the most disgusting confection she ever made was a red blood cell cake.
Some of the most lifelike offerings come in the form of severed hands and feet made from casts of food artist Kate Haigh’s own body parts. Despite their realistic appearance, they are actually made with chocolate and filled with a luxurious liqueur.
The cakes that initially seem the most unappetizing are cupcakes topped with piles of what look like feces. But, made with fine dark chocolate, the poo is cocoa butter cream with rum-soaked raisins and chopped nuts. Not so unappetizing any more.
“You’ve got to get the texture right,” said the cake’s creator Melanie Denyer, from London gluten-free cake shop Suzzle. “And it tastes amazing.”
The accompanying maggots are simply sugar paste and the poo is placed on top of a vanilla bun, iced with vanilla rum butter cream. Melanie has a 7 year-old son who thinks the whole thing is “awesome.”
And then there are the "Mango Fly Larvae Removal" cupcakes from Twisted Fondant. They come with tweezers and latex gloves, so that an adventurous eater can extract the fondant larvae from the hole in the cupcake's flesh and squeeze out the mango-flavored pus before devouring. Yummy.
Jacqui Kelly of Cake Revolution is convinced that making disgusting cakes is a useful exercise for any ambitious cake-maker. “My skills have come on immensely, because you get to take risks.”
And as the saying goes: no guts, no glory.