30-hour ENERGY Cake, a Post-Mortem

Raymond O'Connor
November 4, 2011

I
t is often said that necessity is the mother of invention; however, no one can predict where truly great ideas will come from. Sildenafil citrate was a medicinal compound intended for curing high blood pressure. During testing trials, a common side effect was boners, and the world was soon introduced to Viagra. No amount of Malcolm Gladwell (cough Ė hack! Ė cough Ė ed.) books will aid us in figuring out how good ideas are made, but it doesnít mean we canít delve into the stories of mankindís greatest inventions.

The story of my innovation in the world of cooking and energy began with Brettís child-like love for professional wrestling. He even loves those weird underground wresting organizations like Ring of Honor. (Ahem – itís independent wrestling, thank you Ė ed.) Though I do have to admit, I enjoyed going to see a Ring of Honor live show in Philadelphia. Thereís something thrilling about yelling to entertainers that they stinkóand holding your nose while waving the other hand to dispel the imaginary stink fumesóand seeing them actually reacting to it. In any case, Iím not one to judge, so when Brett invited myself and our friends Matt and Ally over to watch a Ring of Honor pay-per-view one night and partake in a potluck dinner, I was on board. The potluck was to include unhealthy dishes, like buffalo chicken dip and tater tot casserole, to reflect the unhealthy activity we were viewing [see http://www.foxsearchlight.com/thewrestler/]. During the email exchange, I joked that Iíd bring 5-hour ENERGY brownies. Pretty funny, though brownies loaded with energy donít make a whole lot of sense. I later refined the joke to 5-hour ENERGY cupcakes, and thatís when things started to snowball out of control.

The Experiment

Ultimately, I decided to make an orange bundt cake out of orange-flavored 5-hour ENERGY. My plan was to find an orange cake recipe online and switch out the orange juice for orange-flavored energy. Iím not a total knucklehead in the kitchen so I thought itíd be a relatively easy task. I searched online for recipes and focused on finding one that had about the same amount of liquid as 15 hours of energy (about 6 fluid ounces). To my delight, the one I found included a recipe for icing, which also required about 10 hours of energy worth of liquid. I wanted to use a different flavor, so I went with pomegranate. Now, pomegranate and orange occupy positions two and three on Brettís 5-hour ENERGY flavor power poll [see http://www.brutalhorse.com/…/five-hour-energy-will-not-kill-you], so I felt pretty confident that my cake would be delicious. Unfortunately, I failed to consider that while pomegranate and orange rank two and three in terms of energy flavors, in terms of things people actually put in their mouths 5-hour ENERGY ranks somewhere between anti-freeze and Four Loko. In other words, this cake was destined to fail from the beginning.

Recipe

Cake
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or peanut oil
  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt (see note below!)
  • 3/4 cup orange juice 15 hours of energy, orange flavored
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange rind

Combine ingredients in order given. Butter and flour (or spray with Pam baking spray) two round layer cake pans one bundt pan, tapping out excess flour. Level cake batter evenly in pans. Bake in a preheated 350įF oven until cake tests done in center.

Frost with boiled orange frosting
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water 15 hours of energy, pomegranate flavored
  • Grated rind of 1 orange
  • 1 tablespoon Karo syrup (white)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Combine ingredients in a saucepan and boil for 7 minutes. Between the layers of the cake, place thin orange slices and orange frosting. Repeat for the top of the cake. Pour the warm icing on top and garnish with orange slices [source: http://www.cooks.com/…].

Adjustments

As indicated by the strike-through font, replace all water and orange juice in the recipe with energy. Fifteen hours here means three bottles, though it is still an open question whether drinking three bottles gives you fifteen hours of regular energy or five hours of triple energy. (The debate began by considering a half-bottle dose, but an extra bottle would probably work the same way.) Regardless, three bottles is about six fluid ounces or ĺ of a cup. The icing calls for Ĺ cup of water, which is 4 fl. oz. but I had an extra bottle of pomegranate. You have to boil the hell out of the icing anyway so I knew the extra water would evaporate, leaving behind pure, delicious energy. I also added red food coloring, as 5-hour ENERGY is disturbingly colorless, and this mess called for something more extravagant. The recipe also calls for grated orange rind, and so, not wanting to waste a good orange, I cut suprÍmes out of the orange for garnish.

Results

Behold, figure 1 shows the (possibly) worldís first 30-hour ENERGY cake. It looks like the bloodied mouth of a man-eating squid.

The 30-hour ENERGY cake

Figure 1: The 30-hour ENERGY cake.

Looks aside, how did it taste? First thingís first: the icing was awful, universally panned. For this I blame solely the 5-hour ENERGY. Boiled, concentrated pomegranate energy mixed with a ton of sugar is apparently not something you want to eat. The overwhelming taste of Flintstones vitamins was too much to overlook.

The cake itself received mixed reviews. As far as the actual baking, I thought that it went pretty well. The energy didnít make the cake explode and for all appearances it was a normal cake. But again, the energy flavor was assertive. Jess (a great baker herself) thought that it was salty, which I agreed with. If you consult the recipe, it calls for 1 teaspoon of salt. Most cake recipes Iíve ever seen call for Ĺ or even ľ teaspoon of salt, and I did think the amount excessive while I was making the cake. Against my better judgment I stuck with the recipe and ended up with salty energy.

On the positive side, Brett actually ate two slices. Iím not sure why, but he said that he liked it. (The cake was hauntingly delicious ed.). Perhaps, in his excitement for -underground independent (or whatever makes you feel better) wrestling, he just wanted some extra energy, or there’s the possibility that heís actually addicted to energy. I thought that it tasted okay, but Iím also used to the taste of energy, an often-necessary evil. At the end of the night, there was more than half of the cake left so I brought it home and stuck it in the refrigerator.

I didnít expect what happened next. For several days, the cake haunted me like some bizarre Edgar Allen Poe story. I couldnít get the smell out of my head; even writing this now, that bizarre cakey-energy smell is somehow filling my nostrils. I did have a few small slices the following mornings for my daily energy fix, and the cake continued to preoccupy my thoughts while seemingly never running out. After about a week I had to dispose of it. If you think Iím exaggerating, see figure 2, an email from Ally sent the day after.

Allyís unfortunate aftermath.

Figure 2. Allyís unfortunate aftermath.

Improvements

There are a few ways to improve the recipe, maybe even get it to an edible state. Most importantly, any improvement cannot reduce the total amount of energy. This is a 30-hour ENERGY cake, not 15 or 20 dammit. Given that thereís only so much liquid you can put in a cake and still get an actual cake that doesnít fall apart, the energy has to be split 50/50 cake/icing.

First, forget about the icing recipe given previously. My best guess for improvement would be to just buy a can of vanilla Duncan-Hines frosting and mix in the 15 hours of energy. If you want to keep the recipe completely from scratch, you could probably find a recipe for butter cream icing and use that. A consideration for the original energy cake was that Matt & Ally are both lactose-intolerant, and I wanted to keep away from any dairy products. Duncan Hines frosting is actually dairy-free, so that makes a good substitute.

Another dairy-free option is royal icing, which is egg-based and contains an amount of water that may be replaceable by energy. A recipe I found uses meringue-powder—probably a little safer than raw egg whites—and 6 tablespoons of water, or about 7.5 hours of energy. To get to the magic 15 hours, youíd have to double this recipe, but the recipe already makes an absurd 3 cups of icing. Since royal icing is very stiff and dries hard, you could also just add more energy to get a more spreadable consistency. I havenít tried it, so I canít vouch for the results, but hereís an alternate energy-icing recipe:

Ingredients

Makes about 3 cups

Instructions

Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks (7-10 minutes at low speed with a heavy-duty mixer, 10-12 minutes at high speed with a hand-held mixer).

Thinned Royal Icing

To thin for pouring, add 1 teaspoon water 1.25 hours of energy per cup of royal icing. Use grease-free spoon or spatula to stir slowly. Add Ĺ teaspoon water at a time until you reach the proper consistency [source: http://www.wilton.com/…/Royal-Icing].

The instructions for thinned royal icing, which call for 1 extra tablespoon of water (1 teaspoon per cup of icing for a total of 3 teaspoons) or 1.25 hours of energy (ľ bottle), are necessary to get more energy in the cake. Sadly, weíre still missing 6.25 hours of energy (5 tablespoons), which is probably too much liquid for this icing. One possibility is to macerate the orange slices in the extra energy and garnish with energized citrus. Again, this is all speculation, and is definitely not guaranteed to work.

As for the actual cake, definitely cut the salt in half. Salt in cakes serves no purpose other than enhancing the flavor, so reducing the salt will have no ill effect on the crumb or consistency. Otherwise, all we can really do is add other flavors to try and mask the energy. I might add more orange rind, maybe some almond or hazelnut extract, or even sesame paste. Go crazy here, since itís probably going to taste like crap either way.

Conclusions

The most glaring outcome of this experiment is that itís difficult to hide 30 hours of energy. No matter how you dress this cake up, youíre going to taste bile. I havenít concocted a second attempt, but I think it could be made better with the suggestions discussed above. One issue Brett discussed [see http://www.brutalhorse.com/…/five-hour-energy-will-not-kill-you] was the stigma attached to energy shot consumers, so an alternate form of energy may be useful. If you can get past the taste, for those of you that want a more discreet way of ingesting your energy, X-hour ENERGY baked goods may be an option. And honestly, if youíre already drinking 5-hour ENERGY, the cake form is no worse, flavor-wise, thereís just a lot more mass and volume to get through. (In that way, I like to think that the flavor of 5-hour ENERGY is like the speed of light. Light in a vacuum always moves at the same speed, 671 million miles per hour; itís a law of nature. In a vacuum, itís impossible to slow it down or speed it up, it always moves at the same speed. 5-hour ENERGY, no matter how much you dilute it, always tastes like a full dose of energy. Itís impossible to tone it up or down, you can only hope to hide it.)

I almost forgot, how much energy is in each slice? Well, thereís about 16 slices, so 30 hours divided by 16 slices is 1.875 hours of energy per slice (or 5 hours of 37.5% energy if you ascribe to that ridiculous hypothesis), plenty of enough energy to get your morning or night started.

raymond.oconnor@brutalhorse.com
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