For Robin’s birthday this year, we decided to collaborate on the cake instead of having me bake in secret (which is hard to do when you live together in a small apartment anyway). Robin’s request was for “bi pride ombré frosting, a million sprinkles, raspberries, and passionfruit curd.” We also went with an outer space theme as a reference to some of Robin’s favorite gender-nonconforming queer things, including Ancillary Justice and Ziggy Stardust. I often feel like a visitor from another planet when I have to deal with concepts of binary genders and sexualities, and since we went as “bisexual genderqueer space aliens,” complete with retro antenna, to Pride, it felt very natural to continue being intergalactic travelers for another week or two.
(I might never stop, actually.)
We both looked for passionfruit nectar or juice everywhere, but I ended up finding fresh passionfruit at QFC. Robin is our resident curd-maker, and they juiced the fruit, made the curd, and then froze it until about 36 hours before the baking started. They used a combination of recipes to utilize the amount of juice we had and their personal curd-making preference.
8 large egg yolks
1/2 cup (120 mL) passion fruit juice (about 7 passionfruits’ worth)
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
10 TBSP (1 ¼ sticks, 140 g) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
- In a medium heavy saucepan, whisk together juice, sugar, and eggs.
- Stir in the cold butter and cook over moderately low heat, whisking frequently for about 6 minutes, until the curd is thick enough to hold the marks of whisk (or coat the back of a spoon) and the first bubble appears on surface.
- Transfer the curd to a bowl. Cover surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming, and chill until cold, for at least 1 hour.
Curd keeps for up to a week refrigerated. You can also freeze it and defrost for about 36-48 hours in the fridge before using.
Three Layer Cake
While researching cake recipes, I was surprised how many recipes for triple-layer cakes are chocolate- or lemon flavored! Robin wanted a vanilla cake so the passionfruit flavor would come through, so I made “Butter Cake with Simple Syrup” from SprinkleBakes (pp. 34-35) (without the syrup, though you could certainly use that.)
I also made this gluten-free lemon-almond cake to serve with the leftover curd. (The cake is also dairy free, but the curd contains butter as well as eggs.) I served the curd on top with more fresh raspberries. See above.
India Tree Electric Blue Sparkling Sugar
Harvest Market Neon Sequins
Harvest Market Star Sequins
We got the Harvest Market sprinkles during our trip to Mendocino last winter so that I could make spritz.
I used one batch of “American Buttercream” from Heather Baird’s SprinkleBakes (p. 81). This is my go-to recipe and make just enough. If I hadn’t spread passionfruit between the layers, I would have been able to manage with a fine layer, as I had a little leftover.
How to do ombré frosting: here’s a guide. I did a crumb layer in white, then divided the remaining frosting into three parts, then dyed each with gel food coloring to get pale pink, purple, and blue. When I frosted the sides, I actually went from top to bottom (then frosted the very the top of the cake) and used an offset spatula, but I think would be easier going from bottom to top, like in the tutorial. I recommend making a three layer cake to get the space you need to get the color differentiation. To keep your cake-holder/plate clean, slide small pieces of wax paper underneath the bottom layer so that they stick out on the holder/plate; this will help catch crumbs and extra frosting and you can just pull them out later.
More genderqueer space alien feelings
“My Body is a Spaceship” by Rae Spoon in Gender Failure.
My childhood idea that my body was a spaceship came back to me. I was not in the wrong body. I was in the wrong world. I wished so hard that my body was capable of interstellar travel, but sadly, it’s not possible for me to jettison myself outside the world of gender pressure….I refuse to accept that the way my body looks should determine my gender. (120-121)
Big mood for makeup
“How To Rage-Sparkle And Repel Men In 2017” by Jen Culp for The Establishment. (I’ve been wearing a new orange lip stain as well as blue lipstick because anything I can do to look more like a walking Cosmo “beauty trends men hate” article, the better.)
Ann Leckie’s new book Provenance comes out this fall! The Imperial Radch series, in which Leckie uses she/her as a gender neutral pronoun (trust me on this one), is one of the few times I’ve feel represented in sci-fi as a genderqueer bisexual person.
It wouldn’t have mattered, if I had been in Radch space. Radchaai don’t care much about gender, and the language they speak—my own first language—doesn’t mark gender in any way. This language we were speaking now did, and I could make trouble for myself if I used the wrong forms. It didn’t help that cues meant to distinguish gender changed from place to place, sometimes radically, and rarely made much sense to me. (Ancillary Justice)