No cook likes to be told that their culinary creations look disgusting, but there’s no pretending otherwise with Fiona Hugues’ creepy Halloween cake.
Hugues, an award-winningly stylist, photographer, art director and cook, has a taste for devising spectacularly awful Halloween treats. In the past she’s made frighteningly realistic dog poo biscuits, marzipan maggots, edible kitty litter and a cake covered in sickeningly lifelike ‘vomit’. This year, she’s outdone herself by creating a gruesome poundcake covered in flesh-toned buttercream and prickly whiskers.
“It’s all a bit ick and makes people gag a little, but it tastes insanely delicious,” she says.
Hugues, who lives in rural Auckland, told Jim Mora that she started making the chilling-looking concoctions with her children as a way of changing up traditional Halloween trick-or-treating.
“For me, I find it a little bit weird that that kids just turn up and expect something. So we would flip that slightly and we would be the ones turning up with the tricky kind of treats that look disgusting but taste delicious.”
For this year’s hairy cake, Hugues made a strawberry poundcake, sandwiched it together with rhubarb mascarpone cream and covered it in “a very fleshy-looking” berry buttercream. The hairs (“a mix between the hair you find on the hairdressers’ floor and whiskers on an old man”) are shreds of cocoa-dusted kataifi pastry baked until crisp.
If that sounds too scary to contemplate making, Hugues has a few shortcuts.
“You could go to the supermarket and get some trifle sponge, layer that up with some strawberry sauce from the dessert aisle, and some mascarpone or some whipped cream.”
The icing is a simple buttercream, tinted to a flesh tone by judicious drops of red and yellow food colouring (“that’s fun to do with the kids because you can test the colour against your skin”).
“Just slap that all over the top, whatever shape you like, and then get some hairs into it and get gag-worthy and disgusting.”
Can’t find kataifi pastry? Hugues says finely cut filo pastry, baked until crisp in the oven, will produce a similar effect.
“You'll get a very similar kind of fine hairy looking curly thing that you can poke into the cake.”
She’s also resurrecting a treat from previous Halloween’s this year: marzipan maggots.
“They’re always good. They’re really easy to make with the kids too. You just go and buy some almond icing from the supermarket, break off little bits and roll them against something that's got some lines on it. I use an old butter pat or a gnocchi roller, or you can use the base of a jandal (a clean jandal) or anything like that. Just roll them so they’re a little bit thin on the ends, then paint some black eyes on one end and you've got a nice little tasty almond marzipan maggot.”
“It’s all a bit ick and makes people gag a little, but it tastes insanely delicious.”