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
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
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
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!