17 and Baking Bad

August 11, 2013 at 12:37 am 80 comments

Breaking Bad Cake - Above

They call it cooking meth, but really, it’s a lot more like baking.

My dad’s a cook. He’s the kind of person who makes Indian food without a recipe, who can guess every ingredient in a sauce from one taste. The kind of person who opens the fridge, laughs a deep belly laugh, and assures you “there’s a meal in there somewhere.”

He approaches food intuitively, which is why he’s never liked baking—it’s too precise. You can’t throw in a pinch of this, a pinch of that, eyeball a teaspoon of baking powder, and leave it in the oven until it looks done.

Walter White would be an incredible baker.

Breaking Bad Cake - Cut

Baking relies on precision. Four ounces of flour is always four ounces of flour. At the right temperature, butter and sugar become light and fluffy perfection in three minutes. I can make a sheet of cookies and recreate them a year later, at a friend’s house, on the other side of the country.

I love that different ratios of the same basic ingredients—butter, flour, sugar, eggs—result in a million different desserts. I think it’s incredible that a touch of salt makes chocolate sing, but a spoonful ruins ganache. Everything from the humidity of a kitchen to the size of the eggs to the style of whisk makes a difference. Who knew the art of pastry was such an exact science?

For some cooks, the exactitude of baking stifles their creativity. I like it. The chemistry excites me, challenges me. I think it’s sort of cool.

Breaking Bad Cake - Unswirled
Breaking Bad Cake - Swirled

Maybe that’s why I look forward to the meth cook montages on Breaking Bad. Walt and Jesse might be making a questionable product, but I can’t help admiring their process. Plus, the visuals are stunning: glittering aluminum strips rain like confetti, gas bubbles through clear hose, yellow smoke puffs out a vent. Even the finished drug is pretty, big and opaque as blue raspberry rock candy.

Actually, it’s exactly like rock candy—that’s literally what they use for meth on the show.

The first time I saw it, I thought to myself, that’d look neat incorporated into a dessert. I pictured a cake, frosted pure white and topped with lots of sparkly blue crystals, marbled navy and white inside. But it wasn’t until now, as the second half of the last season is about to start, that I went for it.

Breaking Bad Cake - Slice

My boyfriend took the first bite. I could hear the rock candy crunching between his teeth as he slowly nodded, eyes widening. He didn’t say anything, just took another bite, and I knew he was hooked.

The finished cake isn’t as chemically sound as Heisenberg’s Blue Sky. Maybe because I mixed it by hand, the white cake got a few air bubbles, and in the summer heat the cream cheese frosting stayed soft. My marbling didn’t come out perfectly, more blotchy than swirled. But the cake’s still beautiful. It grabs your attention. And above all, it’s definitely addictive.

Consider yourself warned.

I decided to make a mini version, so the recipe is for a 6″ cake. I also opted for cream cheese frosting, in an effort to combat the sweetness of the decorations. But since the rock candy is the real star, you can use any white cake/white frosting combo you’d like.

Breaking Bad Cake - Whole

Breaking Bad Cake
Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours‘s Perfect Party Cake
Makes a 3 layer 6″ cake

2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 slightly rounded cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Blue gel or powder food coloring
Blue rock candy, for decorating

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and put a rack in the middle or upper third of the oven. Butter three 6″ pans and line with buttered parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the egg whites and buttermilk.

Cream the butter and sugar in a mixer on medium speed for a full 3 minutes until very light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract, then add 1/3 of the flour mixture, still on medium speed.
Beat in half of the egg-buttermilk mixture, then half of the remaining flour mixture, then the last of the egg-buttermilk mixture, and finally the last of the flour, beating until the batter is smooth. Beat the entire batter on medium high for two minutes until completely smooth and mixed.

Divide the batter in two. Dye one blue, leaving the other white. Dollop alternating colors into the cake pans, then gently swirl a knife through. Tap the pans on a counter to level the batter. Bake 20 minutes, rotating halfway through, or until a thin knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in the pans five minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack. When cold, frost with white frosting, and top with blue rock candy.

Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes enough to frost and fill a 3 layer 6″ cake
From The Joy of Baking

12 oz cream cheese
7 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Beat the cream cheese, butter, and extract together until combined. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar until the desired consistency is reached.

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Entry filed under: Cake/Cupcakes. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

Cocoa Meringues

80 Comments Add your own

  • 1. eightcakesaweek  |  October 27, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    I love the way the inside looks, even better than if it had been perfectly marbled! I can’t wait to make this.

    Reply
  • 2. manplayedgames  |  October 29, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    this cake looks real good i want to taste it!!!!!

    Reply
  • 3. suzannekimberly  |  November 5, 2013 at 12:32 am

    Reblogged this on Life through my eyes. and commented:
    I’m a huge fan of Breaking Bad and I will defiantly try this out this weekend! Thank you for this recepie!

    Reply
  • 4. StardustHelion Ferrer  |  November 5, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    wow! those blue things looks nice to my eyes ^^

    Reply
  • 5. DreaEnjoys!  |  November 12, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    If use this recipe on a two layer, 9″ cake, will i run out Mix?

    Reply
  • 6. sudhakar  |  November 17, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    Mmm meth cake. I love the preciseness of baking too. You can experiment once you know the basics and what everything brings to the party. It doesn’t always work but you may end up with something great.

    Reply
  • 7. cookingwithoutlimits  |  November 20, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    Elissa, this cake looks amazing! i am sure is delicious.

    Reply
  • 8. everybodylovespretty  |  November 30, 2013 at 2:08 am

    Wow I am very impressed, so creative and the pictures are gorgeous!

    Reply
  • 9. Salve  |  December 2, 2013 at 5:49 am

    Wow, you are very creative! Keep up the very good work.

    Reply
  • 10. Ayesha (Miss Spicy Hat n' Sugar Socks)  |  December 2, 2013 at 9:35 am

    pretty pretty cake!

    Reply
  • 11. Calorielicious  |  December 16, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    So pretty!

    Reply
  • 12. Shruti  |  December 18, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    Drool-worthy!!! Came across your blog while referring some food blogs :) Happy to connect….

    See ya sometime @ http://www.cookingwithsj.com

    Reply
  • 13. lludovica  |  January 18, 2014 at 10:12 am

    this is awesome :)

    Reply
  • 14. grrreatb  |  January 26, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    genius! this is just amazing. If it taste half as good as it looks i want to eat it all!

    Reply
  • 15. jakebaldwinphotography  |  January 30, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    I Love this it looks tasty. Me and my girlfriend love breaking bad and we have watched all the episodes and now ever since have had withdrawal symptoms and crave watching it everyday! Also i think your patisserie is very good and clever and I’m also 17 and am a training cook and I’m much like your dad i don’t enjoy baking as much as cooking the mains but stuff like this does make me want to bake more :) !

    Reply
  • 16. Kaelsma  |  February 7, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    I know you’re all busy with your life Sweetie but … I miss your posts!

    Reply
  • 17. CarpeBriem  |  February 8, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    I totally love your blog. I’m 19 and I started my food blog last year so it’s really cool when I see people my age going for their food passion! Great work :) This cake looks top-notch. Would love it if you checked out my blog too :) Doesn’t get as many stats as yours does though! http://www.carpebriemsite.com

    Reply
  • 18. Aurica  |  February 21, 2014 at 8:07 am

    wowwww..it’s so amazing, what a combination of color..i got to try this one, a piece over here please :D

    Reply
  • 19. help desk gamification  |  February 22, 2014 at 9:47 am

    Thanks for a marvelous posting! I definitely
    enjoyed reading it, you can be a great author.I
    will be sure to bookmark your blog and definitely will come back later in life.
    I want to encourage you to definitely continue your great writing, have a nice
    evening!

    Reply
  • 20. tribw  |  March 13, 2014 at 6:34 am

    oh this looks so delicious!!

    Reply
  • 21. empyrealelegance  |  March 13, 2014 at 11:13 pm

    I would love to make this cake for my brother’s next birthday. He’s a total sugar junkie. Anyways, just wanted to say I remember stumbling on your blog years ago (when you were 18-and-baking) & fell in love with your recipes and awesome posts and personality, only to lose you in the morass of the Internet.

    So, glad to find you again and happy to follow you for the future. Keep making goodies!

    Reply
  • 22. annefriesner  |  March 14, 2014 at 10:38 am

    wow! it’s awesome!

    Reply
  • 23. theneuroticchef  |  March 16, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    Brilliant! You are inspired! I’d love to collaborate and bake crazy ideas together because you’re fantastic! theneuroticchef.com

    Reply
  • 24. Foodies & Eateries  |  March 20, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    I would never think to add rock candy on top a cake. I bet it adds a wonderful crunch to the otherwise fluffy cake. Great idea!

    Reply
  • 25. Urgent application for change of name  |  March 21, 2014 at 4:04 am

    Great post!! very informative.
    Thank you very much for such a lovely and informative post

    Reply
  • 26. kloesunny @ kloeskitchen.wordpress.com  |  April 6, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    This looks so lovely!

    Reply

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Elissa Bernstein



I'm Elissa: a 17 (now 21) year old baker in Seattle Boston juggling creative nonfiction workshops, subway maps, and my passions for writing, baking, and photography. Photo above © Michelle Moore

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