Behold the ugliest cake I’ve baked:
Yes, it looks pretty nasty. But rest assured that I doctored well it before feeding it to various people and demanding that they guess the secret ingredients. And by doctoring, I mean smothering it in icing which was admittedly too thin simply because I couldn’t bear the idea of using THREE cups of icing sugar. So then I doctored that with a good layer of toasted coconut, and no one was the wiser that the cake was full of craters caused by melted marshmallows, and also contained a fair bit of Coca Cola.
I ended up having to tell them of course, because the thing with secret ingredients is really that you can hardly ever tell what they are. You get something that is typically just some version of something normal, but hopefully a very good version. Like a chocolate cake that’s exceptionally moist (is it coke and marshmallows? Guinness? mayo? beetroot? olive oil?). After all, if you could taste what it was, then it would be a coke cake, or a guinness cake, as they are often erroneously called.
I prefer secrets. They are more honest. If you give someone a piece of cake and tell them that there’s a secret, they pay special attention (after they’ve made sure it’s nothing illegal). Then you have the whole to and fro, during which it will generally emerge whether it is actually a GOOD cake or not (if it’s crap, you’ll get things like “hmm, interesting….”). And once you’ve satisfied your certainty that is is, indeed, a good cake, then you can spill the beans, after which everyone needs to have another taste, just to make sure.
Worst is trying to capitalise on the secret before its goodness has been verified. I was offered a piece of Rooibos chocolate cake once. It was supposed to be “very good”. It was very not. Not only because it didn’t taste in the slightest like Rooibos tea – which I quite like on occasion – but because it was a crap chocolate cake trying to be more than it is.
Anyway, for those of you wondering if Coca Cola is a good thing to add to chocolate cake, it definitely is. Or maybe marshmallows are better. Getting to the bottom of that would require some serious scientific method. In the meantime, maybe it’s better not to know. This cake was good.