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.
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
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
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!