Monday, February 1, 2010

Cellular Peptide Cake -- with Mint Frosting

Data: "What kind of cake is that?"

Worf: "It is a cellular peptide cake. With mmmint frosting."

This exchange takes place in Act 1 of Phantasms (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 7). Data has discovered that, although he's an android, he can dream. In Phantasms he discovers how disturbing dreams can be, when he wanders into Ten-Forward and finds Counselor Troi as a giant cake with a slice taken out of her, no less.

No worries, Troi assures Data in the closing scene: "Sometimes a cake is just a cake." She presents him with a cake in the shape of Data.

Ethan Phillips's, in The Star Trek Cookbook, provides a sponge cake recipe for you to make your own cellular peptide cake. However, his is made with 10, count 'em, 10 yolks. No whites. First of all, this will yield a deep yellow cake with a relatively dense crumb, not like the ethereally pale and loosely bubbled cake Mr. Worf is forking in. Second: 10 yolks! Not when I'm paying four bucks a dozen for fantastic, farm-direct, organic eggs. And what am I going to do with 10 whites, eat egg white omelettes? Make angel food cakes? Say, what is it about angel food cake that gives it that bone-white paleness and exceedingly open crumb? Hmm, could it be ... egg whites?

The sponge cake found in Mark Bittman's sweeping How to Cook Everything is made with an equal measure of yolks and whites. It gave me just the right spongey consistency. Because I made a half recipe, using small 6" cake pans, and because the Keene Organic's eggs are so big, I only needed to use two. (I weighed them out to find two Keene eggs that equalled three standard large ones.) A very simple recipe. Basically, beat yolks and whites separately with a little sugar, fold them together and stir in flour and a pinch of salt. It was really delicious, not least because those eggs are SO good. "You made this with a sponge!" Ulysses proclaimed.

The Star Trek Cookbook's frosting is chocolate mint, which makes no sense to me at all, because the only color you can make it after adding cocoa powder is going to be -- brown. Besides, did you hear Mr. Worf say, "Chocolate mint frosting?" Of course not. I got mine Starfleet-uniform blue by using Wilton's Sky Blue color and adding just enough No-Taste Red to shift the hue just right. I used my favorite buttercream recipe, which is from the C&H powdered sugar bag (1 pound sugar, 2/3 stick of butter, 1/4 cup milk, 1/8 teaspoon salt), plus a little cream and glycerin to get it really creamy and really smooth. Plus about 3/4 teaspoon mint extract which in retrospect was probably three tmes more than was needed.

I traced the insignia from the Star Fleet Technical Manual. Don't you have one?

I used the tracing paper stencil to outline with black royal icing, and then filled white buttercream using a star tip, appropriately enough. I sprinkled gold and silver shimmer dust, also by Wilton. over the white. Sparkly!

Purists will note that the angular bar behind the insignia is closer to the design of a comm badge circa 2370, as in the STNG movies, while Counselor Troi wore a badge with an oval shape behind the arrowhead at the time of Phantasms, which takes place in the 2360s. So sue me.


  1. 1. You're a geek!
    2. I love you anyway.
    3. Happy birthday!!

  2. I totally agree with your 'disdain' for the Star Trek Cookbook's recipe. I was really disappointed and as a former chef was appalled at the apparent laziness of the recipe. Also, congrats of buying organic.

  3. I looked at buying the Star Trek cookbook for our Star Trek party, but it's definitely full of nonsense. You did the right thing in following your gut ;)

    One of these days I should probably post the recipes we used, for now I just have ideas up:

  4. Hehehehe :-)

    Sometimes a cake is just a cake ;-)