The Room on Cake is a periodic series in which I attempt to trick myself into learning cake decorating techniques by designing, baking, and decorating cakes based on quotes from The Room, my favorite bad movie. Like this series? Buy me a Ko-Fi or support me on Patreon!
For the 4th installment of The Room on Cake, I made a cake to celebrate a name day party –in this case, a legal name change. This was back in January, before social distancing.
I’ve had so much luck with not messing up recipes or techniques for my The Room cakes that I was bound to run out of luck sooner or later!
The text for this cake comes from Johnny’s constantly greeting all the characters with “Oh, hi, [name]”– “Oh, hi, Denny.” “Oh, hi, Mark.” “Oh, hi, Peter.” According to this transcription, someone says “oh, hi” or “oh, hey” 18 times in the script. In The Room fandom, this often is written as “Oh, hai” to mimic the way Johnny/Tommy Wiseau says it.
I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the name change (The Room-wise, at least) than with “Oh, hai!”
Both of these recipes are by Stella Parks (she/her) (of BraveTart) for Serious Eats. Robin and I did this one together – they helped me research recipes, and I taught them how to pipe frosting designs. I loved strawberry cake from a box mix as a kid and wanted a strawberry cake recipe that 1. didn’t use Jello mix (for my vegetarian friends) and 2. that wasn’t from anyone saying “omfg it’s so girly.” Parks is famous for extensively testing her recipes and explaining the food science, but I managed to mess it up somehow.
Instead of Jello mix, the recipe uses a combinator of freeze-dried strawberries and fresh puree. Because Parks wrote that the cake is unstable and won’t last at room temperature, I baked the cakes in the evening, then cooled and refrigerated them overnight. When I went to level the cakes in the morning, the crumb was dense and stodgy. What went wrong? My guess is that I had to stack the layers in the fridge because of the lack of space or that I overbeat it. So next time, I think refrigerating the cakes using a couple stacking cooling racks before doing the crumb layer and then again after completing the cake is the right way to go.
My second problem area was color: I ADDED pink food coloring and the cakes still turned greyish, even though one pan was anondized aluminum and therefore should have not reacted. (Solution: I bought some nicer matching pans after.) The scraps I had in the freezer* stayed reasonably pink, however.
And then there was the frosting. As far as flavor, color, and texture went, the frosting was everything I wanted from a strawberry frosting. When you make Swiss buttercream, you heat egg whites and sugar on a double-boiler, then whip them until the frosting is at glossy stiff peaks and the bowl of the mixer is cool. However, for some reason my stand-mixer bowl would NOT get cool, even after like 20 minutes, which is my average for Swiss buttercream. The meringue got matte after being glossy. I feel like the egg whites were heated to a higher temperature than I normally use. As a recipe-follower who doesn’t always have the knowledge base to trust my instincts, I followed the instructions and used the instant thermometer; for my regular Swiss buttercream recipe, I test with my fingers for temperature and texture. I think in the future, I’ll just test with my fingers, which sounds like a weird thing to say during a pandemic.
I thought the design turned out well, even if the cake wasn’t the right texture or color.
Would I try this again? I will absolutely do this frosting again. As for the cake, while I’m 90% sure I know how to fix my mistakes (and that those mistakes are mine and not the recipe), I feel very intimidated by trying this again. I might need to give it some time.
On changing your name
Here are some links and resources about legally changing your name. In Washington, the process is relatively easy (no notices in the newspaper, etc.), but here’s some advice a colleague gave me: go to the court in the morning and pay cash, then when you have the court order, go to Social Security first. After you have your social security updated, you can do your driver’s license, bank, etc.
If you’re in Washington state, you can get advice and financial assistance from Lavender Rights Project for name changes and changing your gender on federal documents, estate planning, and more.
Fun fact: all you need to change your gender on your Washington driver’s license now is a single sheet of paper mailed to the Department of Licensing–no doctor’s note, fees (except for the $10 reprint fee, or the renewal fees if you’re renewing at the same time), etc.! I submitted my request the DAY it became legal and had it updated in less than a week.
For socio-linguistic aspects of name changing, I want to point you to a series I really liked on The Allusionist podcast.
- Name Therapy
- Name vs. Law (on Iceland’s naming laws and their challengers)
- Name Changers – some really wholesome stories about a variety of individuals and why they changed their names
I often save cake scraps to add to my homemade ice cream. I have a recipe for cake-scrap ice cream on Patreon for my $10+ patrons!