September 17th, 2012

What Is Pirate Cake and How Do You Make It?

So here’s a post that has nothing to do with anything that’s been going on on this blog. On Saturday I made a Pirate Cake for my husband’s birthday and, when it went horribly wrong, I asked for help on Facebook forgetting that Pirate Cake is not an actual thing and people would be confused. They were, along with very supportive (and the cake survived, though it was darn ugly) and curious. So here is what Pirate Cake is and how you can have one too if you like, for anyone from Facebook or anywhere else that cares.

I grew up in a house without “bought cookies,” so though I learned about–and pined for–Oreos in the schoolyard, I am not familiar with some of the more esoteric brands. My husband, on the other hand, is obsessed with Pirate Cookies and when we got together they were often in his cupboards. They are flat dry oatmeal cookies sandwiches around peanut-butter frosting–same general idea as Oreos, but different flavours. They’re really good.

I like to bake, and once he suggested I *make* Pirate Cookies. This made no sense to me because they are so good in their manufactured form, but I did it anyway, and they’re also really good. The big advantage to making them yourself is that you can have as much frosting as you like.

Then we made Pirate Cookie Blizzards (and will be drafting a letter to DQ shortly) and, for a birthday a while back, I invented Pirate Cake. I bet you can guess what it is–an oatmeal layer cake with peanut butter frosting.

It’s delicious, and pretty easy, and if you’re not a moron like I am you’ll make sure the bottom layer is level so that the top layer doesn’t slide off at an angle and endanger the whole operation. This is not a healthy recipe, but I guess it does have more fibre (oatmeal) and protein (peanut butter) than your average cake.

WORD OF WARNING: Remember that I am a person who did *not* take the above precautions about the level cake base, and therefore should not be trusted to give advice. And yet, people did ask, so here you go–caveat emptor.

Oatmeal Cake
(This is a low-fat version I found that is identical to the one in Joy of Cooking except for slightly less fat. I’ve made both and they taste the same, so you might as well use the lighter one and have more frosting instead.)

1 cup quick-cooking oats
1.25 cups boiling water
6 tablespoons margarine (I use butter)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 eggs (I use egg substitute because it’s both lighter and pasturized–you can eat the dough without fear of salmonella)
1.33 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
0.5 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
0.25 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch cloves
(I always omit the cloves, and next time I think I’ll omit all the spices–doesn’t completely jibe with the peanut butter)

1. Mix oats, boiling water and margarine/butter in a large bowl, stirring until margarin/butter is melted; let stand 15 to 20 minutes. Mix in sugars and eggs. Mix in combined remaining ingredients.
2. Pour batter into greased 13×9 pan (or in this case, two round layer pans) Bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean, about 35 minutes (way less for the layer pans–start checking at about 20 minutes). Cool on wire rack 10-15 minutes.

When the cake is completely cool, you can ice it (if you don’t know what a mess you can make icing a warm cake, consider yourself lucky).

Unfortunately, my recipe for peanut-butter icing isn’t a real recipe with measurements or anything, since I invented it. You just kinda eyeball and taste until you feel confident. You’ll always end up with too little or too much, too, unfortunately–try to err on the side of too much.

Take a tablespoon of butter and 0.25 cup of peanut-butter, and leave them at room temperature until they are soft. I use the all-natural peanut butter, but you can use whatever–if you get the processed stuff, you might not need the salt mentioned later. Obviously, smooth pb would work better here, but if you make a mistake at the grocery store (I have) it can still work out ok.

When they are soft, squash them together with the back of a spoon. Add a bunch of icing sugar–half a cup–to the mixture, and squash that in. Then when you can’t add any more sugar, add a splash of milk (I use skim, but whatever will work) until it gets really runny. Then add more sugar until it gets really powdery. When you get close to what you perceive as the right amount of icing, taste, then throw in a dash of salt and taste again to see if you are happy with that. Then try to balance out the milk/sugar ratio until it looks like the consistency of icing.

Ice the cake. Decorate with whatever. Keep in mind that the icing will be beige, and not attractive, so you’ll want to decorate as much as possible. It’s occurred to me that I could use cocoa to dye some of the icing a richer brown, which I could then pipe onto the cake to decorate it, but I have never actually bothered to do that.

As you can see from the photo above, I tried to write “Mark” in chocolate chips, and it took me two lines for 4 letters, and also part of the R slid over the side when the top layer started drifting. This is basically as ugly as a cake can be and still have people willing to eat it, but Mark loves me and I love peanut-butter icing, so we tried it.



2 Responses to “What Is Pirate Cake and How Do You Make It?”

  • amt says:

    yes! i am so excited to make this somehow, somewhere, eventually. also the part where you spelled his name, four letters, two lines, unrecognizable r so it maybe reads m-a-lollipop-k, is the most adorable thing you have done in recent memory, and that is really saying something.

  • Rebecca says:

    Yes, you should make this–it is delicious! I feel that you would be able to pull off proper cake-writing, too…

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So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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