When I was a teenager I remember baking a black forest gateaux in the heart-shaped tin. It was a dense, moist cake, and after icing it started to sink, creating a large crack down the middle. I was reminded of this rather melancholic broken-heart cake when I saw the plans for Miss Cakehead’s ‘Depressed Cake’ pop-up.
Part of London’s ‘alt-baking scene’, Cakehead and her company ‘Eat Your Heart Out‘ are beyond other creative culinary events that involved grotesque and grisly baked goods covered in blood and boils, offensive adult-only confectionery and anatomically-correct cakes in the form of organs, bones and famously, vaginas. The new pop-up shop plans to generate awareness of mental health problems and raise money for related charities. Currently enticing bakers to get involved, Miss Cakehead has been asking people to wonder ‘If a cake was depressed, what would it look like?‘ (Luckily the depressed theme will apply to the appearance, and not the taste!)
“One in four people will suffer from mental illness at some point in their lives – The Depressed Cake shop (opening in May for 3 days) will provide a unique (& delicious cake) platform on which to discuss mental health issues (with a focus on depression), whilst at the same time raising valuable funds for mental health charities. We’re also actively seeking sponsors for this charity event…
The symptoms of depression can be complex – and vary widely – and so will our cakes. But as a general rule, if you are depressed, you feel sad, hopeless and lose interest in things you used to enjoy. The professional and hobby bakers contributing work to this event will be creating cakes that visually represent this… For example barely decorated cakes or cookies will communicate how depression can affect your ability to work, the grey & dull consistent color scheme that all fun can disappear from life. Remember they may look sad but inside each will be bursting with flavour and colour.”
Examples already submitted have included grey meringues and black chocolate teacakes (with rainbow marshmallow hidden inside). I think this is a playful concept that will hopefully draw attention and generate discussion on a serious issue. I also like the idea of trying to translate what can often be a very difficult and private experience, tricky to convey to others, through this tasty medium. As many experience at least mild levels of depression at some point in their lives, I think the cakes will strike a chord with a lot of people.
It got me thinking, what would a depressed cake look like to me? I imagine a cake that looks very pretty and normal on the outside, but has a big empty space in the middle. A cake sinking under the weight of heavy objects a-top it. A drab, grey cake with all the sparkling icing dripping off away. A heavy jar of edible medication. A cake stuck full of pins or shaped like a deflated balloon.
Although the event will focus on depression I think it would also be interesting to think about cakes that represent other mental health problems such as bipolar and panic attacks. If your depression was edible, what do you think it would look like? And would you take a bite out of it?