Monday, July 1, 2013

A Firefly Shindig: Shiny!

Alright everybody, thanks to all the wonderful folk who voted in the poll a few weeks ago, it's time for a proper Firefly Shindig! (And just in case Firefly wasn't your chosen geekery, I've added a new poll with more options for future nerd parties - cast your vote!)

Pretty cunning, don't you think?

I admit, I'm a big fan of Joss Whedon's show Firefly (and the subsequent film Serenity). Such a fan in fact, that I've actually thrown a Firefly themed shindig before. In order to be as comprehensively nerdy as possible, I went ahead and included some of the throwbacks along with the new creations I cooked up just for this.

Girl's a mind reading genius, 
can't even figure out how to eat a rice planet!

To start things off, I wanted to pay homage to River's problematic food, the Ice Planet (from the Firefly episode The Message). I didn't want to run the risk of getting my guests all melty though, so instead of ice cream or the like, I used homemade puffed rice treats. Construction was simple enough - nuke marshmallows, add krispies, sculpt a ball with a string stuck in the center, tie to a chopstick. Voila - Rice Planet.

The apples are grenade free... probably.

True to its description, the problematic food was quite the challenge to eat and most of the guests resorted to stabbing the sphere with the chopstick and eating it like a popsicle. Seen with the problematic food are some strawberries fresh from the monastery, apples from the front and a steaming cup of Serenitea. With the appetizers in the bag, it was time to move on to the main dish.

Remember Jayne's iconic hat? You know, the awesome yellow/orange thing with ear flaps and puff balls? Well, I was originally planning on knitting a Jayne hat (and that plan hasn't changed), but I realized that's been done quite a bit and for the party at hand I wanted to try something more original. And more delicious. The solution? A bundt cake, where every slice would be its own little Jayne hat just waiting to be eaten. 

Protein cake in the making (there's eggs!)

While I usually enjoy baking from scratch, I went ahead and used a box of yellow cake mix this time plus all the relevant ingredients (and a few extra). Fun Tip: In most baking recipes you can substitute up to half the amount of vegetable oil that is called for with APPLESAUCE without compromising the texture or taste of the product. I like doing this with brownies, as it makes the final product much less greasy and just healthier enough that I don't feel so bad for eating it. Moving on...


Once the batter was prepared, I separated the mix into three portions and added food coloring to each until they were the appropriate shades - red-orange, orange and basic yellow. Then it was time to layer it in. 

Batter up!

Since with traditional bundt cakes the top becomes the bottom, I put the yellow in first, then the orange and finally the red-orange, intending to flip it right side up when it came out of the oven. In the meantime, I had the pleasure of cleaning the bowls. 

To the baker go the spoils.

By the time the cake was done baking, I realized my plan had a minor flaw. The pan I had chosen was too big for the batter and the cake had grown quite volcanic in its puffiness while the bottom was as flat as a pancake. (Should anyone else try this sometime, I would definitely recommend a more traditional, round bottomed bundt pan and doubling the amount of batter.) Not to worry though, even if the cake itself had to be upside-down, the individually sliced hats could still be righted.


Now it was time for the fun part - decorating! For the glaze I went with the simple powdered sugar and water combo, adding a little bit of orange extract and food coloring for flavor and general prettiness. The puffballs on top are really gumdrops in disguise.

Ta da!
Color layering success!

To serve the slices, I flipped them on the plate (as originally intended) and drizzled extra icing down the sides for ear flaps/tassels. Adding two more puffballs on the ends made a culinary Jayne hat good enough to eat.

A man walks down the street with that cake,
you know he's not afraid of anything.

Mission accomplished. Now, if I ever throw another Firefly shindig, I might have to try bundt style Jayne hats made out of Jell-O or cornbread, perhaps served with... Shepherd's Pie???

Even Nathan Fillion is impressed!

Thanks again to everyone for helping pick out which type of nerdiness to celebrate! Keep watching weekly for more creative exploits!


  1. Fun Stuff! and looks tasty too. Hmmm? I wonder if there is any left. I might have to stop by and say hi.

    1. There may be a slice or two left... Stand by for delivery!

  2. Jayne Hat Cake with Serenitea .... Perfect : )

    1. :D Thanks! (& thanks for helping with the photo lighting too! ;))