(I have one more post to do of our January of Traveling, but I don't have all the pictures uploaded yet, so here is something to tide you over.) (maybe sort of Valentines-y, since it's about a cake?) (although maybe not a cake you would give your Valentine.)
When I was little, the kids in my family used to enter a lot of cooking contests in the Iowa State Fair. My mom would help us make something, and we would take turns entering the different categories (so there was no sibling-on-sibling competition). Usually it was for things like cookies or bread, but one year they had an Ugliest Cake Contest.
I got to be the one to enter it the first year it existed, and let's just say, that category beat the pants off all the other ones. My mom really let me do most of the thinking - what could make a cake ugly? I think my mom came up with the layers format and the smell (she decided if it smelled bad, it would look worse, but I might have been allowed to help choose the spices?), and I did the rest. So, we made it a layer cake. The bottom layer cooked just like a normal cake. The top layer was the fun part. My mom and I made the batter, added food coloring til it was sort of a sickly green color, put it in a pan, and then she let me go to town. I cracked an egg over the top without mixing it in ... and then added the shell. I ran outside and pulled some grass and weeds and a little bit of dirt, and tossed that on top. I added half a napkin. I don't remember what else - maybe a dandelion or two? I know after awhile my mom had to curb my enthusiasm - but it was all that kind of stuff. We put something under one side of the pan to bake it lopsided, and then, upon assembly, put some other junk in between the layers (maybe a banana peel?). You can just say it now, because I know you're all thinking it: my mom is the winner of moms.
The greatest part: This was two days before the competition entry date. For the next 48 hours, we left it in the garage to get moldy before driving it over to the fairgrounds. I mean, there were plants in this thing. I can still remember how disgusting it smelled. We sealed it up in a box to turn it in. Those poor judges; I wish I could have seen their reactions. I just remember hoping they didn't have to taste it, because guys: there's dirt in there, and also mold.
I was so anxious over the next few days, until the fair opened and we could go see how my cake did. (I was particularly excited to see how the mold was progressing.) We got there, and every single other cake in the competition looked something like this (courtesy Google Image search?):
Here was my cake:
The sad part was that, the next year, it was my brother's turn to enter that category, but by then, everyone else had wised up. He still got an honorable mention, though, probably due to his clever addition of my sister's shoe baked into the side.