Mushroom Memories: Yellow Cake w/ Buttercream and Ganache
Rave Recipes is a Festival Advisor series wherein the wild and wonderful Brittany Gaston recounts insane stories from her time on the dance floor and pairs them with delectable dishes and easy-to-follow instructions. Chock full of flavor and always entertaining, Rave Recipes brings the party to your kitchen:
“Wuddup slut!” is how I likely answered Andrew’s phone call that day. We’re quite close.
Andrew and Erick were the first friends I made when I moved to Los Angeles. Erick’s birthday always falls around Coachella’s second weekend. When Andrew called that Thursday morning in late April, I had an inkling what the call was about.
“I wanted to see if you grabbed tickets to the Soulwax show tonight,” Andrew breezed past my greeting. “Katherine’s in town from Germany so a bunch of us are going. I think we’re gonna make this Erick’s birthday thing.”
The one year I went to Coachella, I covered it for a publication that rhymes with Meatport. I’d agreed to the gig in February, then forgot about it for three months until my press confirmation arrived two days before the fest. Andrew and Erick let me stay with them, saving me from a homeless weekend in the very-expensive Indio Valley. I’d celebrated Erick’s birthday with him every year since and I wasn’t about to miss one now. I told Andrew I’d buy one.
“It’s sold out,” he said. “It’s gonna be the same live setup they’re performing at Coachella. It’s supposed to be pretty dope. They’re only doing limited shows. I’m sure you can find tickets on Facebook or something.”
“I’ll call you back.”
As I begrudgingly paid the exorbitant fees on [rhymes with] “Shrubhub,” I watched videos of the Soulwax Transient Program for Drums and Machinery performance from Coachella’s Weekend One. Imagined by Soulwax in collaboration with Ill-Studio, the duo says it’s not a “concert,” but rather an “art installation.” An assortment of live, modular and analog instruments were placed strategically on a giant rug. Seven musicians operate the spectacle - three of which are drummers. A giant disco ball in the shape of a head presides above and spins really fast.
I secured the ticket and called Andrew back. My place was a seven-minute Uber ride from the venue, so I offered to host the pre-show gathering. With the few hours before everyone arrived, I baked the birthday boy a triple-layer yellow cake with chocolate buttercream frosting.
The pre-party was Erick, Andrew, Katherine and myself. It wasn’t long before the conversation turned to party favors.
“I have some mushrooms,” I offered, “but it’s the bottom of the bag, so it's all shake.” My preferred method is to blend the mushrooms with orange juice. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any.
“Can’t we just sprinkle some on the birthday cake?” Andrew asked. “I’ve had mushroom chocolates before. It’s not that different.”
The comparison made sense to me, but we decided Andrew should have the first bite.
“It’s not bad,” he said, mouth still full. “It’s actually not bad, like, at all.” He went for another bite. “That cake is really fuckin’ good, Britt!”
One day, I’ll write a research paper positing that the cocoa plant’s evolution into chocolate and the discovery of psychedelic mushrooms was a kismet part of our expanding universe. For now, I’ll just say the combination of these two ingredients is bliss.
We all had generous slices of the mushroom-shake-birthday-cake and washed it down with prosecco. The plan was to use the bathroom and leave as soon as possible so that the mushrooms would kick in at the venue.
Alas, time is an illusion. Thinking we could leave in a timely manner was lousy judgment. Grabbing the rest of the ketamine I had on the way out the door was just overkill.
We arrived early to see the opening DJ, and our hallucinating asses entered the venue like we owned the place. We claimed a spot at the front of the stage and aggressively held the Park Place of dance floor real estate until the rest of our friends arrived, one of whom was Vanessa. When she saw the four of us on a combination of a hallucinogen and dissociative, her eyes screamed “Oh Lawd, have mercy on my soul.”
Poor Vanessa tried to establish “drink getters” and “spot holders,” a clever plan to divide tasks among the functioning partiers and the mess. As Soulwax were set to go on any minute now, the crowd grew more intense. She’d given up.
Overwhelmed by the increasing number of sloppy drunks, Katherine was getting anxious. Making parenthesis with her hands, she lowered her head and shielded her eyes from the ruckus.
“Don’t worry about them Kat,” I pulled her arms down and bent to her eye level, “Fuck everyone else, it’s just us. This is our universe! We are the center.” I tapped into my German, “Wir sind das Zentrum!”
Soulwax took the stage as we peaked. We screamed and “Woo’d” every time the performance did something mesmerizing - which was always. I think this review’s description of the crowd is actually about us. We saw the rays of hate zeroing in, but we couldn't stop fawning. To our tripping eyes, the production was constantly shifting.
Right before the show was scheduled to end, Vanessa tapped me on the shoulder.
"Uhm,” she shouted over the music, “are you aware Erick is puking in a trash can by the entryway?"
Everyone around us heard. Vanessa grabbed my hand, I grabbed Katherine's, and we shuffled through the packed crowd. Andrew scurried behind.
We found Erick sitting on a bench in the lobby.
"I don't think that second bump of K was a good idea," he moaned. "Those lights were crazy, man." He droned like a stoner. We couldn't help but laugh.
The four of us went back to my apartment. Erick fell to the hardwood and sprawled, forgoing the couch just inches away. I threw all the blankets and pillows on the floor, and we all joined him. I put on a playlist with some minimalist jazzy jungle and drum’n’bass. Maybe it was the music, or maybe it was the fact we were finally able to breathe, but Erick got his second wind. We talked and laughed until morning; four friends reveling in a shared, jaw-dropping experience.
Sometimes the best nights out with your friends are the ones you didn't plan at all - the same can’t be said for cakes.
Next time you need to cover that nasty mushroom taste (or you’re celebrating a totally sober, perhaps even child-age birthday), give this rave-tested, mother-approved recipe a whirl.
2 cups and 2 tablespoons unbleached white flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened or room temperature (Irish butter preferred)
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs + 2 additional egg yolks, room temperature and separated
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
2 ½ sticks unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3–4 cups confectioners’ powdered sugar
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3–5 Tablespoons heavy cream at room temperature
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 4-oz quality semi-sweet chocolate bars (113g each), finely chopped*
1 cup (8 ounces; 240ml) heavy cream or heavy whipping cream
Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease two 9-inch cake pans (Pro tip: line the baking pans with parchment paper rounds and grease the parchment paper to help the cakes seamlessly release from the pans)
Whisk the flour and cornstarch together. For extra floof, sift the two ingredients back into a large mixing bowl. Add the baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed for three minutes. The creamed butter and sugar will be extra creamy. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Turn the mixer down to medium-high speed and beat in the 4 egg yolks one at a time, letting each egg yolk fully mix into the batter before adding the next. Beat in the vanilla extract until combined. Set aside.
Add about ⅓ of the dry ingredients and ½ of the buttermilk and beat on low speed until combined. Add ⅓ more of the dry ingredients and the rest of the buttermilk and beat on low speed until combined. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and beat on low speed until combined. The batter is very thick. You may need to whisk it all by hand to make sure there are no lumps at the bottom of the bowl.
Whip the egg whites: Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar together on high speed until fluffy peaks form, about three minutes. See photo and video above for a visual. Slowly and gently fold the egg whites into the thick cake batter. Avoid over-mixing as you don’t want to have bitch-ass deflated egg whites.
Pour/spoon batter evenly into cake pans.
Bake for around 30 minutes or until the cakes are baked through. After about 18 minutes, cover the cakes with aluminum foil to prevent the tops and sides from over-browning. To test the cakes for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, it’s done.
Allow cakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. And don’t be an impatient dick - wait for the cakes to be completely cool before you start frosting, assembling, and shit.
While your cake cools, make the buttercream and ganache: With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat only the butter on medium speed until creamy, about two minutes. This makes your frosting lit. Add confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, heavy cream, salt, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high speed and beat for a full minute. Do not over-whip, you kinky slut. Add 1/4 cup more confectioners’ sugar or cocoa powder if frosting is too thin or another tablespoon of cream if frosting is a thicc bish. Taste. Add more salt if you’re a salty heaux like me.
To elevate your cake, you can add some ganache but this is optional if you’re not simpin’ for chocolate. Place chopped chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl. The finer you chop the chocolate, the better.
Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it begins to gently simmer. (Do NOT let it come to a rapid boil, you dairy masochist – that’s too damn hot!) Pour over chocolate, then let it sit for 2-3 minutes to gently soften the chocolate before you stir.
With a metal spoon or small rubber spatula, very slowly stir until completely combined and chocolate has melted. If it’s not melting, do not microwave it just use the heat exuding from your thighs
Ganache can be ready to use as a drizzle or you can let it sit at room temperature to cool and thicken. It will fully cool within 2 hours. Refrigerating speeds this up, but the ganache will not cool evenly. Stir it a few times as it sets in the refrigerator so it remains even and smooth.
Once completely cool and thick, the ganache can be piped with a piping tip or scooped with a spoon. You can also beat the cooled thickened ganache with a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until light in color and texture, about 4 minutes on medium-high speed.
Assemble and frost your cake: If your cooled cakes have a domed-top, use a large serrated knife to slice a thin layer off the tops to create a flat nelly bottom surface. Garnish with mushrooms or sprinkles, if desired.