My sister Emily recently sent me a link to the culinary revelation that is Meat Cake, a “less-girly cake” made from fine American meat products! Since we had our traditional Thanksgiving dinner a few weeks ago with Dad, this holiday weekend was a good time to do something different. The idea to make a Thanksgiving Meat Cake was based on the thanksgiving sandwiches I used to get from a Boston deli when I worked in Fort Point Channel. There’s a similar Martha Stewart Meatloaf Cake too, but we drew our inspiration from the Black Widow Bakery version because it’s steeped in awesomeness!
So here’s how it went!
Building our Cake
We started with a basic turkey meatloaf recipe (without the apples). We doubled the ingredients to get two 9″ cake pans filled.
The original recipe called for an hour in the oven, but the 9″ cake pans we used make thinner patties and will cook faster. Since turkey tends to dry out fast, we used the “toothpick test” to check when the loaf was cooked. Our cook time was 25min for the first stage, followed by a quick glazing with cranberry sauce, finished with another 5min under the broiler to dry it out.
You’ll notice the that our raw meatloaf cakepans have a dimple in the middle. We thought it would help compensate for the meatloaf’s tendency to expand and rise in the middle. It would also provide a place for the stuffing layer to hold on to.
After the meatloaf layers cooled (about 30 minutes), we piled instant turkey stuffing between them and stacked them up. I have a spinning cheese platter that Em’s boyfriend Robert gave me a few years ago for Christmas; with a circular piece of freezer paper on top of it, this worked well as an impromptu cake frosting platform.
Being lazy, we used prepared mashed potatoes from the local supermarket for the frosting. I’ve never frosted a cake before, so I just glopped the stuff on all around and then spun the platter, using a large sillicon spatula dipped in warm water to slowly smooth it out. It’s a bit wobbly and uneven, but that just adds to its charm :-) A neat swirly pattern on the top formed, so we left it and garnished it with clusters of whole cranberries Em picked out of the canned cranberry sauce. We didn’t have very many, so we just made a simple pattern, then garnished with a bit of paprika, ground pepper, and flakes of Morton’s Kosher Salt.
Having our Cake (and Eating it Too)
After taking a zillion pictures of the cake—much to the disgruntlement of Em’s boyfriend, waiting with fork and knife at the ready—we drizzled some plates with mushroom gravy and laid big slices o’ turkey cake on them.
- Turkey Meatloaf Cake is very filling, with all the sleep-inducing powers of a full turkey dinner. We all took 2 hour naps after having just one slice. The wine probably helped with that, too :-)
Turkey meatloaf doesn’t really taste like turkey. I would describe the flavor as “meat”; ground turkey tastes pretty similar to lean ground beef and ground pork to me. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t deliver that great roasted turkey flavor one would get from a turkey sub.
Putting mashed potatoes in the middle would have given this a more authentic “layer cake look”. I had been worried about the two layers holding together, so I avoided slippery ingredients in the middle layer. We noticed, however, that the mashed potatoes tend to stiffen as they cool. They probably would hold equally well as a center filling.
p>For next time, we’re thinking of trying more of a baklava style layered cake, using real roasted turkey layered with stuffing, potatoes, and gravy, to get better flavor. But then we’d end up cooking Thanksgiving dinner again, and it’s not really that different from turkey casserole.
Anyway, the big win is this: WE MADE MEAT CAKE! MUA HA HA HA!
There’s something really kind of creepy about that. I can’t explain it but it really gives me the “heeby-geebies”.
Is this your debut into culinary experimentation and design? ;)
Brandon: Hey, that’s an interesting observation. I think people will either be completely freaked out by the idea of a meat cake and think it a CRIME against food! Others will think it’s the best thing ever. When I was a kid, and was in Taiwan for the first time, I would be constantly surprised by food that looked like a familiar snack here in the U.S., only to discover that they were made from something else: sweet red beans that looked like fudgsicles, fried pidgeons, cucumbers…from the sea, noodles made from jellyfish, mock duck…scary!
For one moment there I almost thought you had really made a turkey cake cake :O
…Holy CATS. Of all the people that have sent me submissions for their versions of the meatcake, I have to tell you that yours is by far the most elegant. (sorry, guys!) This thing is BEAUTIFUL. I’m ten shades of impressed!!
I heartily applaud your efforts, and I thank you SO much for all the nice things you said about me and my website. :D How awesome are you?
Alvin: HAH! It took me a while to understand what you meant. That would be truly horrifying, like when a challenger on Iron Chef makes an ill-advised ice cream out of the theme ingredient. EVERYONE TRIES. EVERYONE FAILS. Some expectations are not meant to be broken!
Vashti: WOW! Thanks so much!!! :-)
Hi Dave-Em sent me the link; your meat cake is truly a thing of beauty!!!!
Oh, this looks yummy!!!
And if you try the baklava-type recipe, take a look at a Moroccan dish called… um, “bastilla”? It uses chicken and cinnamon in a phyllo dough, and it might give you some good ideas…
haha Reading the comments, I laughed remembering my friends Korean mom giving me ice cream. If sweet red bean paste, frozen into a Popsicle shape is ice cream.
Still, one day, we too shall make this cake.
pure genius… i bow, humbled, before what is truly a foodstuff of great beauty!
@ Kat: they call it “pastilla” at a local (Sacramento, CA) restaurant. Their description: “chicken, egg, and nuts baked in a flaky filo dough pie and topped with cinnamon and powdered sugar”.
Arrival: “What, dessert-time already?”
Bite one: “That’s … ummm … interesting.”
Bite two: “Kind of weird, but good.”
Bite three: “So, what are the rest of you are going to eat?”
I think this is so cool and it looks pretty. You did a great job. I think I might try it but put some potatoes in between the layers.
Caren: Yah, the next time I make it, it’ll be potatoes between the layers for that more authentic “fairy cake” look. Perhaps I can make a marbled stuffing+turkey meatloaf cake? :-)
Howdy! I used your recipe for my company’s Thanksgiving potluck celebration. It came out great!
picture 1 | picture 2 | picture 3
Becca: Wow! Your meatcake came out great!