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Ragnarok Awaits!

I have decided to make a series of desserts based on my favourite metal bands, and this is the first in the series – Amon Amarth!
I’ve seen many many blogs dedicated to various things I enjoy (like nerdy desserts), and I wanted to a series based on something I very much enjoy that would also be challenging in fairly uncharted territory. I’ve wanted to make a Slayer-themed cake for a while (which will be next!), so metal-themed cakes seemed like a pretty logical choice.

After some very intensive research (ie. pretending google is as reliable as an academic journal), I found that most metal-related cakes were decorated according the bands’ logos and such, and while I am very impressed by some of the fondant reproductions of Eddie, I wanted to go further than that. My goal is for the recipe & flavours for each dessert to also reflect the band to some degree,  even if I have to accept some more tenuous links.

I decided to begin with Amon Amarth, a (melodic) black metal band from Sweden. You may also recognize their name as one of the Sindarin alternatives for Mount Doom in Lord of the Rings – I believe this translates of Mountain of Fate. They primarily sing about viking folklore and history. They are pretty awesome; if you haven’t heard them before I’d recommend Runes to my Memory or Twilight of the Thunder God.

On to the cake – because of their lyrical themes, I wanted to focus on ingredients that would have been available to Vikings in that area. I read as much as I could find on Viking diets and what might have been available to them throughout the seasons and as trade routes began to open up. I decided using hazelnuts, cherries, and hints of allspice & nutmeg would be justified.

As Amon Amarth’s bio states though, they are fuelled by “copious amounts of mead!” Consequently, I incorporated as much mead as I possibly could. What viking-related cake is complete without mead or ale?

I’d recommend starting the mead-cherry reduction as soon as the cake is in the oven, as it can take quite a while.

Norwegian Hazelnut Cake

3/4 cup hazelnuts (or hazelnut flour)
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tbsp Mead
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease the bottom of one 9″ or 10″ springform pan.
2. If using whole nuts, pulse the nuts in a food processor until ground
3. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat, cool.
4. In a large bowl beat eggs, sugar, vanilla extract & mead until thick and lemon coloured (about 2 to 3 minutes).
5. Add flour, baking powder, salt, and ground nuts or nut flour, mix well. Continue to beat mixture while slowly adding the cooled melted butter or margarine until blended (batter will be relatively thick). Spread batter into prepared pan.
6. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes then remove sides of pan. Remove pan bottom and invert onto a serving plate. Cover with a cloth towel and cool for another 30 minutes before adding any icing.

For the icing, I used Sweetapolita’s Swiss Meringue Buttercream Icing again, with a few alterations. I added a couple teaspoons of honey, 2-3 tablespoons of mead (be careful not to add too much liquid), brown food colouring and smattering of cocoa powder for colouring. Be sure to keep it at room temperature (if it gets too warm, leave in the fridge for 10-15 minutes). If for some reason your icing looks curdled,  just keep beating, and don’t be afraid to increase the speed. SMB is very temperature-sensitive, but otherwise quite easy to fix 🙂

The icing was honestly a little too much on such a dense, sweet cake. I’d just have happily skipped the SMB icing and just piped on runes.

I had originally planned to make a layer cake with the cherries in the middle, but this particular cake is quite dense and doesn’t really rise – so unless you need a massive amount of cake, or are extremely skilled at cutting thin layers, you can do what I did and very attractively dump the mead-cherry reduction on top. I was told by one person it looked like guts; while this wasn’t purposeful, I’m fairly confident that were Ragnarok coming, guts would be everywhere and quite possibly the least of our worries.

I reserved a small amount of icing to dye a darker colour, which I then used to pipe on the runes. I used short twig Younger Futhark to write Ragnarok Awaits (somewhat messily, don’t make your icing too liquidy or it will just run everywhere and you will have a small icing explosion. Not that I learned from experience). I found this translator to be quite useful and pretty accruate.

Mead-Cherry Reduction

1 cup halved & pitted cherries

Mead

1 tsp vanilla

1 tbsp honey

Place cherries into a small pot, and stir in the honey. Pour in mead until it’s about 1/2 inch deep.

Bring mixture to a simmer, stirring frequently. Continue simmering until mixture begins to thicken, and add mead in small batches if the liquid level looks too low.

If watching this very slowly simmer over an hour so, whilst stirring every now & then, is extremely boring, you can watch Amon Amarth brew mead!

Essentially, just do this until you have as much cherry-mead mixture as you feel appropriate. If you wish this to retain any alcoholic content (Amon Amarth would say yes), add a few more tablespoons of mead after you remove the mixture .

Finally, complete your cake! Unfortunately yelling “Amon Amarth cake, Assemble!” at it is pretty ineffective.

It’s certainly not the prettiest of cakes, and I would like to better at writing runes with icing, but I fairly sure that if some drunken vikings made a cake it would not look perfect…so I’m going to pretend it’s justified, and eat cake whilst listening to Under the Northern Star.

Slayer & Turisas are up next. Let me know if you have any other suggestions!

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