Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Black and White Cookie Cake

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Salted Black and White Earl Grey Cookie Cake with Earl Grey Buttercream and Chocolate and Vanilla Glaze

Cake:

2 cups granulated sugar

3.5 cups AP flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1.5 teaspoon kosher salt

5 large eggs, at room temperature

1.5 cups buttermilk, at room temperature

3 sticks butter, room temperature

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons earl grey tea, ground finely

Buttercream:

2 bags of Earl Grey

Half a liter of heavy cream

1/2 cup powdered sugar

2 sticks of butter, room temperature

Glaze:

1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

lemon juice from half a lemon

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

2-4 teaspoons water

2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

Maldon Sea Salt

The day before baking, heat up the heavy cream on the stove until just under boiling. Steep the earl grey tea into the cream and let sit for 15 minutes. Refrigerate the cream over night.

Grease and line three 8 inch round cake tins. Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Sift dry ingredients together, except for the sugar and set aside. Cream together the butter and sugar in a mixer. Mix wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Alternate incorporating the dry and wet mixtures into the butter/sugar. Evenly distribute the batter in the three cake tins and bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cool completely.

Whip the cold earl grey cream with sugar until the right consistency transfer to separate bowl. Use the same mixing bowl you whipped the cream in and whip the butter (No need to clean from the whipped cream). After the butter turns fluffy and pale, incorporate the cream. Add more sugar if desired.

Level the cakes for a clean finish. Assemble the cakes with earl grey buttercream on every layer. Freeze for around 45 minutes.

Stir together confectioners sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl until smooth. Transfer half of icing to another bowl and stir in cocoa, adding more water, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, to thin to same consistency as white icing.

Take out the partially frozen cake and start with the vanilla glaze. Cover half the cake (it’s okay to go over more than half with the vanilla). Make a clean line on top using the chocolate, and cover the rest of the cake.

Top with big, flakey salt.

RuPaul

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Hey Kitty Girls, time to Sissy that Cakewalk! 

As a kid, I can remember RuPaul from two things: “The RuPaul Show,” which I only mildly watched, and also as Jan Brady’s school counselor, Mrs. Cummings, in “The Brady Bunch Movie”.  It wasn’t exactly palatable to be a fan of men in dresses where I grew up, but RuPaul somehow was able to seep through the cracks of the 90s zeitgeist (even in places where the wheat grew knee high to a pig’s eye).

RuPaul Andres Charles is arguably the world’s most commercially successful drag queen.  Though starting in the Atlanta punk scene, RuPaul eventually found himself as one of the most renown characters of New York City's Club Kids scene in the late 80s (even garnering the name “Queen of Manhattan 1990”).  He launched into the national spotlight in 1993 with the popularity of his single “Supermodel,” and then in 1996 with his own talk show on VH1 “The RuPaul Show”. The show only lasted 2 seasons, but it was this moment that introduced a statuesque black man in a dress on the television of corn-fed America (I definitely was eating corn). Her majesty Diana Ross even made a rare appearance on The RuPaul Show (If you haven’t seen the Diana Ross Cakes of Queens, click here!). 

It wasn’t until 2009 when RuPaul blessed us all with the competition reality series “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” securing his legendary Queer Icon status.  Drag Race parodies shows like "America’s Next Top Model," and "Project Runway" but somehow manages to make them vehemently gayer.  In fact, its message since episode 1 has been to celebrate queerness and serve as a peek inside the window of what it’s like to be queer in modern America. The competing queens in the work room have covered topics like eating disorders, the tragedy at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, dating in drag, gay conversion therapy and gay marriage, all while beating their faces with a thick four inches of make-up and wearing padding. The show has reached mass appeal in recent years and even garnered Mama Ru a few Emmy's, awarding her for bringing a fabulous flavor of queer representation to the main stage of pop culture.

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Ru isn’t totally to blame for the success of Drag Race; a lot of credit must be given to the 120+ contestants to date.  The number will certainly keep growing, and among many things, it’s that growing number that secures and instills the notion in kids that it’s okay and cool and fierce to be queer. Ru attached his face and reputation to a platform that serves as a launch pad for queer people and an exploding industry.  Drag isn’t an art form that’s only done in sticky and dark bars anymore; Queens sell out entire theaters.  Further to that point, Drag Race made people understand that drag is indeed an art form. 

If you can't love RuPaul, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else? Can we get an AMEN and a slice of cake?

RuPaul’s Chocolate P-NUH P-NUH P-NUH Butter and Jam Cake

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with Peanut Butter Buttercream, Blackberry Jam and Bubble Wrap Chocolate Collar

Cake:

3.5 cups granulated sugar

3.5 cups AP flour

1.5 cups unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

2 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoon baking powder

1.5 teaspoon kosher salt

6 large eggs, at room temperature

3.5 cups buttermilk, at room temperature

1 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon vanilla extract


P-NUH P-NUH P-NUH Butter Buttercream:

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup smooth peanut butter

Blackberry Jam:

2 cups blackberries (or any berry you want)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

half of a lemon, juiced

1 tablespoons cornstarch

Chocolate Collar:

2 bars chocolate, melted

bubble wrap (yes, bubble wrap)

 

Preheat oven to 350F.  

Grease and line with parchment paper two 8” round pans and two 6” round pans. Whisk sugar, flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and baking soda together. In a separate bowl mix oil, vanilla, buttermilk, and eggs together. Slowly incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, scraping down the bowl throughout. Divide evenly in pans and bake for around 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Once cooled, cut each rake in half, horizontally. Set aside.

For the jam, place all blackberries in a sauce pan and add sugar. Mash the berries and sugar with a fork. Take a tablespoon of the juice and mix with cornstarch, then add into the mashed berries, along with the lemon juice. Bring berries to a boil and let simmer for about 15 min. Cool completely.

Whip all ingredients for the peanut butter buttercream together in a mixer until light and fluffy. Make sure everything is at room temperature!

Construct both cakes: the 8” one and the 6” one (keep them separate at this point), adding an even layer of PB frosting and dollops of blackberry jam between layers. I used a toothpick to swirl the jam into the frosting. Once fully constructed, put both in freezer for 20 minutes.

Take bubble wrap and cut to the dimensions of both cakes. Next, melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Pour the slightly cooled chocolate over bubble wrap and immediately wrap around both cakes. Put back in freezer for an hour. Once totally frozen, unwrap both cakes and behold the stunning pattern! Stack the cakes and decorate Ru however you want! I dyed standard American buttercream red and made flowers.

Finally, shout to your friends that their country breakfast is ready and welcome them to the main stage of your Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve, and Talent!

 

Sailor Moon

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At its surface, Sailor Moon is an innocent anime series featuring magic cats and long legged school girls fighting evil forces.  And all of that is true, but one must look at the original Japanese anime (or manga) to see that this show served as a queer respite for kids all around the world!  For those who have no idea who Sailor Moon is, it originally started out as a manga series by Naoko Takeuchi in late 1991.  In 1992, it was adapted to an anime television series in Japan, with subsequent American syndication.

Speaking as a gay cis man, I was always drawn to strong female characters, especially ones who are flawed (see: Judy Garland).  Usagi, Sailor Moon’s girl name, is just that.  She’s a clumsy school girl who can’t keep her grades up by day, and then she’s saving the universe from monsters come dinner time (err, “fighting evil by moonlight, winning love by daylight”).  She became my after school safe zone: a positive, empowering reprieve.

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When Sailor Moon made her way to the USA, a lot of the dubbing - and consequently a lot of the story line, was seriously edited.  For starters, Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus were, in fact, lesbian lovers in the Japanese version.  There were even scenes where they expressed their deep love and devotion for each other.  However, to American kids, these two sailor soldiers were COUSINS. While Sailor Neptune exuded all of the conventional feminine qualities, Sailor Uranus exclusively wore tailored suits or pants and cut her blonde hair very short - so much so that she had to explain in an episode that she didn’t “recall ever saying that she was a guy”.  In short, she didn’t associate with gender norms - furthermore, she incessantly hit on Sailor Moon.  Color my little gay ass INTRIGUED! 

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In the very first season, two of the main male villains, Kunzite and Zoisite have a very curious dynamic.  They were also exceptionally sweet to each other, and created a interesting depth to their characters.  In one scene, Kunzite gives Zoisite a rose “to match his beauty”.  This was, for some reason, not dubbed out for the English version! 

Some characters didn’t even make it to America, or made it to America in a censored way.  Fisheye, a fish who was given human form by Zircona (bear with me), is a cross dressing man in Japan, but a full blown woman in America.  And let’s not forget the Sailor Starlights, who disguise themselves as a boy band (of whom Sailor Moon and the girls go on dates with!), and transform into women as their super hero form.

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Despite the American censorship, Sailor Moon shone as an incredible and relatable source of entertainment for a lot of kids of the 90s. Also, Usagi loves bread. Like LOVES bread.

In the name of the moon, I will give you the recipe now. 

Sailor Moon’s Moon Pie Galaxy Cake 

Graham Cracker Cake with Marshmallow Buttercream and a Chocolate Galaxy Mirror Glaze topped with Crushed Banana Chips

Cake:

3 cups crush graham crackers

1 cup flour

5 tsps baking powder

1 cup Butter, softened

1.5 cups of sugar

4 eggs

2 tsp of vanilla extract

1.5 cups milk

Marshmallow Buttercream

2 cups butter, softened

1 tsp of almond extract

1.5 containers of marshmallow cream

pinch salt

2 cups powdered sugar

Galaxy Mirror Glaze

1.5 cups sugar

3/4 cup water

12 oz white chocolate

1 packet of Gelatin (2 tbsp) and an addition 1/4 cup of warm water

Gel food coloring: Light Blue, Dark Blue, Purple, Pink, Black

Toppings:

1/4 cup Banana Chips, crushed

Cocoa Crispies

 

Preheat oven to 350F.  

Grease and line with parchement paper four 8’ round pans. Whip the softened butter until light and fluffy, then slowly add the sugar. While that beats, mix and sift together all remaining dry ingredients. Add eggs to the sugar and butter mixture one at a time and then add the vanilla. Once incorporated, alternate adding the dry ingredient with the milk. Separate evenly (use a digital scale!) between the four prepared pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Put all marshmallow butter ingredients in the mixer and combine until voluminous. Begin layering the cake, and add a layer of cocoa crispies between each layer. Completely coat the entire cake and stick in the freezer for about 35 minutes. When you take it out the frosting should be malleable with your fingers, so you then can smooth it out to perfection. Stick back in the freezer while you make your glaze.

Bloom the gelatin the 1/4 cups of water. Combine the sugar, water, and white chocolate in a sauce pan and turn on low while mixing. Once the sugar has dissolved and the chocolate has melted, add the gelatin. Separate the mixture into 5 bowls and add each food coloring into the bowls. I made more light blue that anything else, but it’s up to you!

IMPORTANT: the cake NEEDS to be frozen on the exterior and the mirror glaze NEEDS to be around 85F - otherwise the glaze will run right off your cake!

When the temperature is right, pour on the cake however you wish!

To create the crescent moon with banana chips, take left over cardboard and draw an 8” diameter circle. Draw the crescent moon within that circle and cut out the stencil. Pierce the stencil with toothpicks to slightly hover about the glaze and sprinkle the banana chips through the stencil!

Shout Moon Prism Power and you’re done! Enjoy with all of your girlfriends before you talk about boys or fight evil!

Carol Channing

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There is no stage entrance more appropriate for a gay icon than a grand descent from the top of a staircase while being greeted by thunderous applause and a line of (probably mostly gay) chorus boys to serve as backup support. It’s an entrance that was immortalized by Carol Channing in her seminal performance as Dolly Levi, one of the most beloved roles in American theatre. Often dubbed “The First Lady of Musical Comedy” (a title she, herself, disagrees with: “I’m not the First Lady of Musical Comedy. The others [just] all died.”), the three-time Tony Award winner remains a shining emblem of Broadway’s Golden Age. Her work has conquered the mediums of theatre, television, film, and, as the first solo artist to headline a Super Bowl halftime show, even sports!

 

Carol epitomizes unabashed self-expression and individuality — a quality that makes her so beloved to the LGBT community. It’s practically impossible to define her as a performer. Her performances have always walked the fine line between the norm and the bizarre. When you watch her, you see a perfect blend of leggy starlet and bumbling chorus girl. You see a perfect blend of glamorous socialite and lost bag lady. You see a perfect blend of innocent child and ax murderer. She combines everything messy and chaotic found within the human spirit and hurls it into the audience. Just watch her as the White Queen in the 1985 made for TV version of Alice in Wonderland. Her iconic physicality is blissfully self-unaware, like a child learning to dance before they grow old enough to have any inhibitions. The result is utterly hilarious and, most notably, utterly herself.

It’s her combination of both masculine and feminine qualities that is most notable. In a time when gender non-conformity was hidden in the shadows, she chose to live in the spotlight. As Carol says, “My mother said to me, ‘You’re revolting. And on top of that, you’re not very feminine.’ Well, that led me to the stage, which is an accepting and comfortable place. So in a way, I have my mother to thank.” She acknowledged her own natural queerness as something to be celebrated. As you watch her performance of “Calypso Pete” in her tour-de-force one woman revue Show Girl, you’ll see the masculinity of her animalistic aggression yet the femininity of her sheer sexiness. Queer performance art carries a sense of both the danger and silliness possessed by every bone of Carol’s body. It’s why she is a favorite character among drag queens. When asked how she felt about Johnny Depp wanting to portray her in a biopic, she loved the idea and didn’t think twice about Depp being a man: “Most of the impersonations of me I’ve seen have had a five o’clockshadow.” 

 

The most common thread through every performance, however, is the love for her audiences that pours out of her. With a smile as wide as her outstretched arms (her signature pose), she pulls everyone in the audience into her and embraces them. In every interview, she’ll harken back to one of her famous roles. When someone applauds or acknowledges remembrance, her wide eyes light up as she exclaims with genuine delight, “Oh! You remember!” She adores her fans as much as they adore her, and she has always felt it her duty to show up for them. Throughout the course of over 5,000 performances in Hello, Dolly!, Carol had only one unscheduled absence when she missed half a show due to food poisoning. In Dolly's 1960s run, Carol maintained perfect attendance, even while undergoing chemotherapy for uterine cancer. It’s that resilience through hard times and loyalty to loved ones that queer audience members have always looked up to and try to emulate in their own lives.

 

So cheers to you, Carol! Whether you’re going gaga over diamonds, giving us absurd regulations on when and when not to eat jam, or being fired out of a cannon (and receiving Oscar nominations for it!), you’re still glowin’, you’re still crowin’, you’re still goin’ strong. And we promise we’ll never go away. RASPBERRIES! 

- By Matt Steele, Carol Channing's #1 Biggest Fan 

Razz Baby Tart! 

Raspberry Lemon Tart with a Lavender Graham Cracker Crust and torched Meringue

Crust:

1.5 cups crush Graham Crackers

2 tbsp Butter, melted

1.5 tsp Culinary Lavender

Lemon Curd:

1 stick unsalted butter, room temp

1½ cups sugar

4 eggs

pinch salt

½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Raspberry Puree:

12 oz of fresh RASPBERRIES! 

1/3 cup sugar

1 tbsp Water

Meringue:

4 egg whites, room temperature

3 tbsp Sugar

1/4 tsp of Cream of Tartar

 

Preheat oven to 350F.  

Combine crushed graham crackers, butter and lavender, crushing the lavender between your fingers as it drops into the mixtures.  Press into a tart pan with a removable bottom and bake for 10 minutes.  Afterward, let it cool completely.

For the lemon curd, use a hand mixer or standing mixer to cream together the butter and sugar.  Add the eggs, one at a time, followed with the lemon juice and salt.  Put the mixture in a small pot over low heat and stir constantly for around 10 min.  The mixture will thicken.  Take off heat and let cool completely. 

In a separate pot, add the raspberries, sugar and water.  Simmer on low for around 10 min, until the mixture has completely cooked down and thickened.  Pulse in a food blender a few times after it's done cooking to ensure a smooth consistency (though it's not always necessary).

Pour the lemon curd into the lavender crust and let it sit on the counter for a couple of minutes to set.  Take a small spoon and make inch long dollops of the raspberry puree on top of the lemon curd.  Create a spiral design with the dollops.  Take a knife and start at the very center of the tart and pull toward the crust 8 to 10 times, cutting it almost like a pizza.  The knife shouldn't touch the crust, it should just skim the top.  Put in the refrigerator to set.

Meanwhile, make a swiss meringue by putting egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar in a metal bowl.  Put the bowl tover a pot with two inches of water and double boil the mixture, constantly stirring, until it reaches 175F.  Take off the heat and whip in a stand or hand mixer until stiff peaks form.

Put the meringue in a piping bag and create a spiral design starting from the center of the tart.  Torch with a culinary torch and serve to Harry, Louis, Manny, Danny and Stanley!

Liza Minnelli

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She has a problem.  Now, it’s not a big problem, but it’s a problem. Her name is Liza.  Liza– has a Z in it.  For the rest of the world this is, quite literally, not a problem.  Liza remains one the most memorable, absolutely terrific performers the world has ever seen.  Winning her first Tony (of 4) at the age of 19, and then an Oscar AND Emmy at 26, Liza was a FORCE.  Her talent was palpable, even in 1965 when she shared the London Palladium stage with her mother, the grand dame of queer icons, Judy Garland. A talent that even turned Judy a bit “competitive,” as Liza recalled.

Liza shared a lot of similarities with her mother, be it good or bad.  These similarities are also the same reasons the Queer communities have embraced them both for decades.  Their struggles, self-doubts, and fragility coupled with magnificent waves of strength and talent have secured them both as monumental LGBTQ+ icons. And as much as it pains me to say, ENOUGH about Judy! This is about Liza.  

Liza has long supported the Queer community.  She’s been the deserving recipient of PFLAG’s Straight for Equality in Entertainment Award in 2010 for ‘her lifelong support of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people’, as well as The GLAAD’s Vanguard Award in 2005 for ‘her contributions to increased visibility and understanding of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.’  She also married two gay men, so she QUITE LITERALLY supported the gay community!

If ever you need a reminder of how Liza was catapulted into Queer icon status early in her career, just watch her captivating performance as Sally Bowles in Cabaret (1972).  The Celluloid Closet credited Cabaret as the first Hollywood movie to celebrate a homosexual lifestyle, and Sally was surely there for the ride.  For context, the Stonewall riots happened just 3 years before this movie came out and the Hay’s Code was dismantled in 1968.

Liza is perhaps the most imitated character by drag queens, and with good reason!  She just oozes charisma and charm.  She's a perpetual delight.  I dare you to find an interview where she's in a bad mood, or get's cross with idiotic questions about her substance abuse struggles or family (I'm looking at you Barbara Houer).  She's been a workhorse since she was a child, and CONTINUES to give back to the community! 

So grab your bells and let’s make a cake.

Maybe This Thyme Cake

Olive Oil Thyme Lemon Cake with Mascarpone Lemon frosting and a Black Pepper & White Chocolate Drip

CAKE:

3 cups AP flour

1 tbsp Baking Powder

1 tsp Salt

3 tsp Lemon Zest

4 tsp fresh Thyme Leaves

1 cup granulated Sugar

4 Eggs, room temperature

1 cup full fat plain Yogurt 

2 tbsp Lemon Juice

1 cup Olive Oil

FROSTING:

16 oz Mascarpone Cheese

1 cup confectioners sugar

1/4 tsp Salt

2 tbsp Lemon Juice

Zest of two Lemons

1.5 cups of Heavy Cream

DRIP:

6 oz of White Chocolate

1/4 cup of Heavy Cream

1/2 tsp of VERY finely ground Black Pepper

Black Gel Food Coloring 

Preheat oven to 350F.  Prep two 8" flat pans with cooking spray and set aside.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt, and then mix in the lemon zest and thyme.  Make sure you really work the thyme with your knife or your fingers to get the oils out. Set the flour mixture aside. In a mixer, whip the eggs and sugar together until pale and fluffy.  Add the yogurt, lemon juice and olive oil on the LOWEST speed to the eggs.  Gradually increase the speed until it appears smooth and somewhat shiny.   Bring back down to the lowest speed and gradually add the flour.  Once combined, pour in the pans and bake for around 20 to 25 minutes.  Once done, let them cool completely.

While the cakes are cooling, combine the mascarpone, confectioners sugar, salt, lemon zest and lemon juice in the mixer.  DO NOT over do it, because this can make the frosting curdle.  Separately, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form, and gently fold into the rest of the batter.

Cut the 2 cakes in half lengthwise, to give you 4 even layers.  Once stacked and completely frosted, stick the whole cake in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

While that's cooling, melt the white chocolate and heavy cream together until smooth.  Sprinkle in the black pepper and take off the heat.  Add black coloring until it matches Liza's iconic hair color.  Cool the ganache down to about 90F and then start dripping away!  You can either use a squeeze bottle or just push it down the sides with the back of a spoon! Just make sure it's not too hot, because it will run thin and melt your frosting.

It's divinely decadent, darling! 

Diana Ross

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From her larger than life stage presence, to her larger than life hair, Diana Ross has always been a beacon of divadom for last the 40 years and earned her spot in the hall of fame of sequin-wearers. 

A study in matching dresses with The Supremes, Diana solidified herself as an icon and brand that wasn't to be reckoned with. In the golden age of Motown, Miss Ross (if ya nasty), along with Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson, bridged the gap between main stream music and Rhythm & Blues with catchy hooks, synchronized clapping and coordinated costumes that birthed a generation of drag queens in white elbow-length gloves. 

Often a standard of mid-century style, Miss Ross' affinity for stage-wear is what often comes to mind for her large LGBTQ following. Upon leaving The Supremes for a solo career, Diana cranked the Diva-Dial to 11 and continued to make her ever evolving style become part of her artistry. This could be attributed to her chameleon like career choices (outside of music, the incomparable Miss Ross was nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal of Billie Holiday in Lady Sings The Blues, as well as starred opposite Michael Jackson in the film adaptation of The Wiz) or her accuracy for writing gay anthems (I'm Coming Out could play at a gas station and we'd dance). In either case, her lasting and lengthy time in the spotlight is what keeps Diana the grand marshal of the icon parade.

Whether she's declaring disco isn't dead or inspiring perhaps the most accurate depiction of girl-group politics on the stage, (hyperlink to Dreamgirls story) Diana Ross has forever turned our worlds *Upside Down* in the only way she knew how: through sheer star power, inclusivity and a little hairspray. 

 

*Upside Down* Pineapple Ginger Disco Ball Cake

8 large eggs, room temperature

2 sticks of butter, room temperature

2 cups white granulated sugar

1 tsp almond extract

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp ground ginger

6 cups all-purpose flour

8 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 cans of pineapple rings, cut into chunks

2.5 cups of reserved pineapple juice

2 eight ounce cream cheese packages

1 cup of honey

edible silver spray paint

edible silver sequins

 

Preheat oven to 325F.  Prep two 8" half ball pans and one 8" flat round pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Forewarning: this is a lot of batter, so it will probably be easier to do the following in two batches.

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla and almond extract.  Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and ground ginger.  Slowly add dry mixture to egg mixture, followed with pineapple juice.  Massage brown sugar into the pineapple chunks, and then fold the pineapple into the batter.

Fill each half ball pan a little more than 3/4 of the way. Pour the remaining batter in the flat 8" round pan.  The ball pans will take nearly 1 hour to bake, while the flat pan should only take 25 minutes.  PRO TIP: put the ball pans on top of a smaller pan while in the oven to prevent them rolling around!  It's also probably smart to put a cookie sheet under everything.

Once totally cooled, level each cake and stack on top of each other, creating a ball.  If the cake looks flat, use the back up 8" flat cake to give the whole thing a life.

Whip together the cream cheese and slowly add the honey.  Cover the whole cake and smooth it out as best as your can.  Spray the silver paint entirely and festively cover with silver sequin.  Have fun and making a fucking mess.

 

Frida Kahlo

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Frida Kahlo is so much more than that tote bag you bought on Olvera Street. A literal Communist, Kahlo was frighteningly progressive for her time and she still empowers people with resounding relevancy.  

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Frida broke a lot of taboos—not just in her paintings, but as a lifestyle. A family picture from 1926 shows Frida Kahlo dressed in male drag. Occasional-Drag-King Kahlo used her clothing as a way to express her power, her independence and her specific brand of femininity. Her marriage to Diego Rivera was very atypical for the time, and both of them had numerous affairs. Kahlo painted Self Portrait with Cropped Hair in 1940 shortly after she divorced Rivera for sleeping with her sister. In this painting Kahlo is seen wearing men’s clothing with short hair, holding a pair of scissors. Subtle? Yes. Here for this foolishness? She was not. 

Though little is known for sure, it has been said that Frida has had affair with Josephine Baker, Georgia O’Keeffe, Chavela Vargas, and a few others. “I only live for you and Diego,” Kahlo told Vargas. It’s been documented that she even had affairs with her husband’s mistresses. The lore of her sexual conquests often puts the power back in her relationship narrative- Kahlo was not one to be thought of a damsel in distress by any stretch.

Relationships aside, Kahlo resided comfortably in the counter culture of the time. Even in her paintings she would accentuate the eyebrows and the mustache to further push the androgyny of her face. It was clear that she refused to commit, even with her stoic facial expression.   Duality was a common theme in a lot of her paintings: man/woman, native/contemporary culture, moon/sun, and even herself appearing twice in the same painting. It could be said that her bisexuality was another extension & expression of that kind of juxtaposition.

Frida unapologetically broke all the rules and she refused to conform to society. Though in pain for the majority of her life, she was incredibly strong. This type of "against all odds" attitude is often a key factor in the gay experience and staunchly resonates with counter culture residents--both then and now. And although staunchly against capitalism, she was a master of branding. Think about that the next time you buy Frida socks.

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Coffee Tres Leches Cake with Cayenne Popcorn Balls

COFFEE SPONGE CAKE

9 large eggs, room temperature

1 cup white granulated sugar

1 tbsp instant coffee powder

2 tbsp boiling water

2 cups  all-purpose flour

2 tsp  baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp of almond extract

LECHES

1 tsp instant coffee powder

1/2 cup warm milk or heavy cream

1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup evaporated milk

COFFEE FROSTING

8 oz softened cream cheese, room temperature.

1/2 cup white granulated sugar

1 tbsp instant coffee powder

2 tbsp boiling water

2 cup heavy cream, chilled

POPCORN BALLS

1/4 cups of popcorn

1/2 vegetable

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup of butter, melted

1 cup of marshmallows

3/4 cup of light corn syrup

1 tsp of cayenne

Preheat oven to 325F.  Prep two 8” round cake pans with parchmont paper on the bottom.  Grease the paper, but don’t grease the sides of the pan! Greasing the sides will make the cake cake into itself. 

In a mixer, blend eggs for a few minutes and then add the sugar slowly.  Blend until it’s doubled in volume.  Meanwhile, combine coffee powder and boiling water.  One it’s cooled a little bit, add to egg mixture.  Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Slowly add to egg mixture, followed by almond extract. Pour evenly in both pans and bake for about 30 minutes or until done.

Combine milks and coffee into a container with a spout, like a liquid measuring cup.

Once the cakes are cooled, cut each in half lengthwise, so you end up with 4 layers.

Whip room temperature cream cheese until it’s light and fluffy.  Slowly add sugar.  Mix for a few minutes.  Meanwhile, boil water again to mix with the last of the coffee powder.   Stir well and think about all the ex lovers who have scorned you.  Once the coffee and your emotions have cooled down, add to the frosting mixture. Finally add the chilled heavy cream and whip until it has formed stable peaks.

Now onto the layering.  Put one of the layers on cake board.  Soak with a quarter of the milk mixture and top with a thin layer of frosting.  Repeat until the final layer topped and coat the whole cake! Smooth out the sides or put a design on the sides, the put the cake in the fridge to firm up.

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter, corn syrup, and marshmallows until smooth.  Add the cayenne and set aside.  Pour oil in a large bottomed skillet and add the kernals and sugar, along with a healthy amount of gel food coloring (we used pink) over high heat.  Pop the corn like you normally would, but continue to shake the pan so the sugar doesn’t burn and the coloring spreads as evenly as possible.  Once the popcorn has cooled a little bit, pour in the marshmallow mixutre and stir with your hards.  You’ll want to form around 7-10 balls to surround the top of the cake.  If the popcorn in sticking to your hands too much, wet your palms and then form the popcorn balls.  Add to the top of the cake and you’re done! 

Then have a cigarette and a good sit.  You’ve earned it. 

Golden Girls

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This cake is dedicated to Coco: the very short lived gay latin house boy from the Golden Girls pilot. He unfortunately got the axe when it was decided to bring Sophia into the cast.  Gone but not forgotten, Coco; This cheesecake is for you.

Like many young gays of the 80s and 90s, Golden Girls was the first show I watched incessantly with my grandma. We’d only stop if Unsolved Mysteries was on, or *god willing* The Karen Carpenter Story. However, more often than not we would settle for the 4 single gals of a golden age on the lanai. With enough fabric to circle the earth 7 times, the fashion of these ladies set a standard of excellence in my young wide gay eyes. Certainly something both me and my grandma could enjoy.

Susan Harris, creator of the show, did the remarkable. She created a wildly popular primetime show in the 80s that centered solely around the lives of older women. This is something hardly done today, let alone 30+ year ago. Amazing by itself, but she used these characters as a way to send messages and educate its audience in a way that might not have been accepted if it weren’t shrouded in a white wig with a permanent.

One episode in particular (72 Hours, 1990), Rose fears that a blood transfusion she had years ago may have contained HIV-infected blood. For context, in 1984, teenager Ryan White contracted AIDS through a tainted hemophilia treatment. People were wildly uneducated about AIDS then and the fear of getting was high. It wasn’t until August of 1990 that the Ryan White CARE act was enacted, which is the largest federally funded US program for people living with HIV/AIDS. This was signed into action just months after the airing of 72 Hours, but also YEARS after Reagan uttered the words AIDS/HIV in public.  It’s still in effect. 

There were a number of episodes that featured gay characters, but I think what made Golden Girls such a favorite show among the LGBT+ community is that it’s about a chosen family and not a biological one. With the exception of Dorothy and Sophia, these women chose to live together and support each other…for 7 SEASONS! That’s commitment! 

Thank y’all for being a friend.  Let’s make a cheesecake! 

 

Citrus Cheesecake with Orange Walnut Crust

 

ORANGE WALNUT CRUST

zest of 1 orange

1.5 cups of walnuts

1/4 cup of sugar

4 tbs butter, melted

 

CITRUS CHEESECAKE

4 eight ounce cream cheese packages, room temperature

1.25 cups of sugar

1/4 cup of cornstarch

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 tbs of vanilla extract

2/3 cup of heavy whipping cream

zest of orange, lemon, and lime

 

SOUR CREAM TOP

1 pint of sour cream

1/3 cup of sugar

1 tsp of vanilla extract

zest of orange

 

DECORATION

Gel food coloring 

 

Preheat oven to 350F.  Toast walnuts on the stove for a few minutes, just so you can start to smell them. Pulse together walnuts, orange, and sugar in a food processor and slowly add the melted butter.  Once combined, press evenly on to a 9” springform pan and bake for 7 minutes.

When cooled a bit, wrap the bottom of the spring form pan in aluminum foil because this will need to bake in a water bath.

Combine 1 cream cheese package with the cornstarch and some of the sugar for about 4 minutes.  Scrape down the bowl and blend in remaining cream cheese.  Then add remaining sugar, vanilla, and citrus zests.  With mixer on medium low, add eggs one at a time and then finish with the heavy cream.  Biggest tip for all cheesecakes: do not over mix!  You’ll put too much air in the batter, causing it to crack.

Next, measure out the batter in 4 separate bowls, leaving one it’s natural white color.  Feel free to dye them whatever color you want, but I chose pastels to honor the Golden Girls and the 80s.  Add each in layers, and gently smooth each layer with a small palette knife. 

Find a pan large enough to hold the spring form pan and add half way with room temperature water.  Place the cheesecake inside and bake for 1 hour! 

While baking, combine all ingredients for the sour cream top.  Once the cheesecake is done, gently pour the sour cream over the cheesecake and put it back in the over for 8 minutes just to set.  Once done, turn off the oven and open the door and DON’T TOUCH IT!  DON’T EVEN LOOK AT IT!  Walk away! Go outside! Call your mother! 

After a few hours, wrap it up and let it sit in the fridge overnight.

You may want to stop here and call it a day! And that’s totally fine, but if you want to do a design on the top, transfer the cake into the freezer for 1.5-2 hours.  Once it’s somewhat frozen, use your gel food colorings to paint whatever you want.

Most importantly, find your best pals to share a slice with in your nighties.

Dorothy Gale

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You might think The Wizard of Oz (1939) is a film about a girl dreaming of life beyond her sepia-toned soundstage, traveling by house, partaking in some light manslaughter and going toe-to-toe with a viridescent witch all in the name of fabulous footwear.  You’re not entirely wrong, but the rivers run much deeper and its everlasting relevancy is proof of that. At nearly 80 years old, the film’s metaphor of outsiders leaving their small towns in search of more accepting cities still rings true.

Dorothy Gale, played by a youthful and incandescent Judy Garland, was an outsider in her own community. What she found in Oz were friends who were similarly unwelcome by their communities and felt emotionally inept in their own way. The adversity these characters endured mimicked the way many gays felt in their own lives. An outsider to Oz, Dorothy refused to accept the status quo. Scarecrows shouldn't be thoughtless. Tin Men shouldn't be heartless. Together, they persevered, discovering how these deemed outsiders would fit into their colorful kingdom. It didn’t take very long for the LGBT+ community to connect with Dorothy, even coining the term “friend of Dorothy” to secretly identify a gay person. Dorothy is a champion for all those persecuted for their "otherness." Dorothy fought for us to find our own courage, or our own way home. And she reminded us to do it all in heels.

 

Judy Garland herself became a monumental gay icon. Gays could identify with Judy’s ups and downs. She was widely known as a tragic figure with substance abuse and emotional problems, which unfortunately was also the case for a lot of the gay community. Judy’s premature death in 1969 was a tough blow, and her funeral was the day before the Stonewall riots.  Though not necessarily connected, it’s been suggested that the rainbow flag’s creator, Gilbert Baker, was inspired by Judy’s, “Over the Rainbow”.

The Wizard of Oz remains one of the most iconic movies ever made, not to mention my personal favorite. The film and Judy Garland have undoubtedly left an everlasting impact on film and LGBT+ history. Now let’s make a cake, my pretties.

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Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Ruby Red Buttercream

 

LEMON POPPY SEED CAKE

 

2 cups of unsalted butter, room temperature

2.5 tbs of baking powder

1/2 tsp of baking soda

3.5 cups of sugar

3 tbs of poppy seeds

5 cups of flour

1/2 tsp of salt

2 tsp of vanilla extract

3 zested lemons

3 tbs fresh lemon juice

7 large eggs

2 cups of buttermilk

blue gel food coloring

 

GRAPEFRUIT BUTTERCREAM

 

3 cups of grapefruit juice

1.5 cups of unsalted butter, room temperature

1.5 lbs of powdered sugar

4 tbs of heavy cream

red gel food coloring

 

DECORATION

 

Wilton red cake sparkles

 

Preheat oven to 350F and butter four 8-inch round pans. Lightly flour the buttered tins and set aside. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar and lemon zest until the butter is pale and fluffy. Mix in eggs one and a time. Add vanilla extract. Separately mix the buttermilk and lemon juice.  Alternately add the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture.  Once fully combined, add poppy seeds.

Use a digital scale to measure out the cakes evenly in 3 separate bowls.  Keep 1 batter white, make 1 cobalt blue and 2 of them very pale blue.  Spread evenly in each of the 8” pans and bake for about 30 minutes! When they’re done, I like to let them cool completely, wrap them in plastic wrap and chill them in the fridge for an hour, or over night.  They’re much easier to level when cooled.

While cooling, use a compass and create a 7.75” circle on construction paper (the measurement is less than 8” because the cake tends to shrink when it cools).  Then within the circle, keep making smaller circles by subtracting 1.3" every time. THIS IS NOT AS COMPLICATED AS IT SOUNDS, I SWEAR! If done correctly, you will be able to cut out 3 rings and a center circle. These will guide you as you cut the cake.

Make the buttercream by simmering the grapefruit juice for almost an hour. You want it to thicken and get syrupy. Set aside to cool completely. Mix together the butter, heavy cream and sugar with a paddle attachment until fully incorporated. Slowly add the grapefruit syrup. After adding about half the syrup, try it to see if it’s the desired taste. If the buttercream begins to separate, add more room temperature butter. Once fully mixed, dye the buttercream ruby red.

Level your cakes and start cutting away. Once all of the rings are cut out, it’s time to interchange the colors . It’s easiest to watch a video of how to stack a plaid cake on YouTube!  Between each cake, put an even layer of buttercream. Cover the fully stacked cake with a generous layer of bright red buttercream and smooth out on every edge.

And now you get to do what you’ve dreamed of since you were born. Cover the whole damn thing in sparkles. I used 3 containers of the Wilton Red sparkles.

Cut this cake open to reveal Dorothy’s iconic plaid design, but be sure to do it in front of your best Judys. Enjoy!

Julia Sugarbaker

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I can remember being in my first gay video bar. Which, for those who don’t know, means a gay bar with TVs hanging on most of the walls playing exceptionally homosexual content.  Think Judy and Barbra singing the Happy Days Are Here Again medley or remixed scenes from Mommie Dearest that somehow heightens its camp or any scene ever shot with lots and lots of feathers.  At this point in my gay career I’ve been to gay video bars all over the country and the one clip every one of them has played is of the 1986 Designing Women episode called “The Beauty Contest”.  You’d be hard-pressed to find gay men NOT reciting every word with pristine cadence of this biting and delicious monologue effortlessly spitting out of Dixie Carter’s mouth.  Carter was perhaps best known for playing Julia Sugarbaker, a spicy and jaw-dropingly eloquent liberal Georgian businesswoman with shoulder pads that could touch God if her heels were high enough.  

Designing Women fiercely touched on gay issues at a time where sitcoms wouldn’t dare.  Julia, especially, defended a young gay man inflicted with AIDS on the 1987 episode, “ Killing All the Right People,” (written by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason) where 24 year old Kendall hires Sugarbaker & Associates to decorate his own funeral.

“As far as I’m concerned, this disease has one thing going for it: It’s killing all the right people,” shouted Kendall Dobbs, an idiot with a brooch and contemporary of Julia.  Julia promptly kicked her out of the office, but not before shredding her ego before an audience.  Her way of cunningly tearing down someone with a rhythmic downpour of shade is something most drag queens can only dream about.

Julia to this day remains a character of strength.  People would underestimate her and they would always lose.  She was a sharp tongued example of believing in your own morals and not being an asshole.  Thanks, Dixie! Thanks, Linda! Thanks, Designing Women!

 Let’s get on to the cake! 

Vanilla Bean Cake with Spicy Bourbon Peach Filling

For the Bourbon-Soaked Peaches

* 3 peaches, skinned and sliced in chunks

* Bourbon

* ¾ cup sugar

* ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

* 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne

For the Peach Buttercream

* 1 peach, peeled and blended

* Heavy Whipping Cream

* 32 oz of Powdered Sugar

* 1.5 cups of butter, softened

For the Cake

* 1 1/2 sticks of unsalted, room temperature butter

* 4 1/4 cups of flour

* 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder

* 1.5 teaspoons salt

* 2.5 cups granulated sugar

*  7 large eggs at room temperature

* 3/4 cup of vegetable oil

* 1.5 cups of milk

* 1 vanilla bean

For Decoration

* Blue, black and pink fondant

* Pink pearls from the 99 cent store

* 1 pink carnation

Peel and cut up peaches the night before.  Place in a bowl and cover with bourbon so the peaches are fully submerged.  Let sit overnight.  After at least 12 hours, drain the peaches (save the bourbon for cocktails!) and blend.  Combine the peach blend with sugar, cayenne, and cinnamon on low heat until the sugar is dissolved and the temperature of the mix reaches 220F.  Set aside to cool.

To make the cake, beat the butter, oil and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Alternate between adding the dry mixture and the milk to the egg mixture.  Add vanilla.

To make this cake, you will need 3 square cake pans of varying sizes (I used a 6", 8.5", and 11").  Divide the batter between these three pans. and bake at 350F until done.  The times vary on the sizes, 20-40 minutes.

Peel and blend a fresh peach, set aside.  Whip butter for frosting until light and fluffy, and then gradually add powdered sugar.  Manually fold in the blended peach.  In a separate bowl, whip the heavy whipping cream and then manually fold in with the butter and peaches.

Once the cakes have cooled, level them and cut each in half horizontally.  Put a layer of peach buttercream and peach filling between the pairs of each cake. For all 3 layers, taper in the sides with a large serrated knife.  Your lines will come out cleaner if you chill the cakes in the refrigerator for an hour.  Once tapered, cover each layer in blue fondant and stack from biggest to smallest.  Put a strip of black fondant on the middle cake for Julia's belt and accessorize her as you see fit!  At this point you should be nearing the end of that bourbon, so who cares!