The crush for whom I bake this week's cake is Richard Hell. More like Richard “is a babe” Hell. Or really, Richard “was a babe” Hell. I initially started this by saying, “Time has not been kind to old Richard” but that’s not really fair. He is literally old. He has aged like a human being would. What I really should say is that I have not been kind to him. Soz current day Hell, but this cake isn’t for you. It’s for this intense babe, with those come to bed eyes and that come to bed hair and come to bed pout and come to bed nose. I freely admit I have a thing for guys with solid noses—well really good-looking guys with solid noses —and Hell’s youthful proboscis is ace.
Also, I do like a guy who just casually wears what appears to all intents and purposes to be a woman’s blouse. Ya wear it well, young Hell. Also he wrote a song called Love Comes In Spurts; which seems to be both anatomically, yet also metaphorically accurate. Kudos.
Hell was a frontrunner of 70s punk, and let me tell you: there is little more truly punk than working out what kind of cake to make for a guy who doesn’t even exist anymore. Including buying a tiny bottle of bourbon and standing at the supermarket wondering aloud if gold or silver safety pins are more “punky”. The more I said the word punk, the more I felt I was getting square-er and groovy pastor-er. In the end I just let my instincts lead the way, and this is the cake we got.
Bourbon Caramel Cake with Grey Icing, Safety Pins and Pills
I feel like I should tell you, even though it should be obvious, don’t eat the safety pins. That’s not reverse psychology: I sprinkled them on, took some photos, and then scraped them off again so we could eat the cake. It left me feeling decidedly unpunk.
Oh yeah, and the pills? Why, they represent Hell’s struggle with narcotics. I struggled with his struggle with narcotics, I wondered: is this going too far? Is this deeply insensitive and wrong? And then I decided to just do it. His Wikipedia page made it sound like the worst that happened was he was kind of annoying and didn’t show up to band practice sometime. As opposed to getting all dead from them. For these, I used birth control sugar pills. I don’t know, I always have endless packets, empty but for those seven damn sugar pills, loitering in the bottom of my handbag and sock drawer. Now who is punk? Still probably not me, as I think we’ve firmly established. But more importantly, who is a babe? Young Richard Hell. And this cake is for you, young Richard Hell.
Set your oven to 180 C/350 F and line a brownie tin with baking paper. Beat 125g soft butter, 1 ½ cups sugar, and ½ cup brown sugar till light and fluffy (and amazingly delicious.) Add two eggs, 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup milk, ½ cup bourbon, and beat till thick, then finally dissolve 1 teaspoon of baking soda into 1 tablespoon of white vinegar (it’ll fizz up, so do this in a good-sized cup) and mix it in properly, before tipping the lot into the tin and baking for about 30-40 minutes.
Ice it—just make some icing. I didn’t really measure anything and it really doesn’t matter what you use. For grey icing just mix in a little black food colouring to the mixture. When you’re ready tip it over your cake and cover with safety pins and sugar pills, or don’t, they totally get in the way of you eating the cake. Don’t be fooled by the word “safety”, okay?
Oh, young Richard Hell.
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