Simple Bleeding Heart Cake
by Barbara Jo
We thought you all might enjoy the instructions for this simple bleeding heart cake because it's quick and easy to make and delivers a dramatic effect for very little effort. It also requires almost no baking skills or cake decorating experience.
To start with, you'll need to bake a cake in a heart-shaped pan. Any kind of cake will work, including any simple, boxed cake mix, though I like to make mine from scratch. Ideally, make two cakes, to stack one on top of the other. A deeper cake will give you much more space on the inside to fill with blood. You want it to really pour out, don't you?
Once both cakes are baked and cool, level off the tops with a bread knife or cake leveler so your cake will be nice and flat. Then, frost the top of one tier with icing (or any other filling, jam, etc. that you want to use) and stack the other tier on top of it. It works best if you put the two cut sides of the cakes together, leaving the two perfectly flat sides that were at the bottom of the cake pan to be the top and bottom of the finished cake.
Now, scoop a sizable hollow out of the bottom of the cake. The bottom, of course, is on top, if you follow me, as the cake is upside-down at this point. The larger the hole you hollow out, the more blood you will be able to fit inside the cake. Of course, you'll also have less cake, so it's sort of a judgment call. Just make sure to leave a decent layer of cake on top of the hollow. You don't want the whole cake collapsing in on itself.
Once you have a hollow you're happy with, frost the inside with buttercream icing. Do a thorough job, so the cake is totally sealed. You don't want the blood to soak into the cake. While you're frosting things, also frost the bottom of the cake where it'll come in contact with the plate. Be generous. This icing is what keeps the blood from seeping out around the edges of the cake.
Now you're ready to add the blood. I like to use fresh raspberry sauce because it's bright red and totally delicious, but of course any red sauce or syrup will work as well. If you'd like to make the fresh raspberry sauce, it's quite easy. Just puree some raspberries and add a smidge of lemon juice and sugar to taste. Then strain the liquid to get the seeds out.
Fill the hollow carefully with blood. Make it fairly full, but definitely not overflowing. Now, set the plate or tray you're going to be using upside down on top of the cake. Squish it down into the icing so that the edge is sealed. Be sure to use a waterproof tray or plate, not a cardboard cake circle, because the sauce will soak into cardboard. I like to use a white plate because the blood shows up well on it.
Carefully holding the cake onto the plate, flip the entire assembly over, so the cake and plate are now right side up. Congratulations! You now have a cake full of blood and you're ready to start decorating.
You can, of course, decorate the cake any way you'd like, using any kind of icing. I've gone in two opposite directions with my decor. The first time I made this cake, I iced it with bright pink buttercream, and then added white trim so it looked like a lovely, innocent valentine heart until blood started pouring out of it. The next time, I made the cake look evil from the outset with sickly maroon and grey icing and candles shaped like tombstones. I leave it to you to decide which option is more effective.
When it's time to cut the cake, I like to do the honors with a meat cleaver. Failing that, I recommend you use the biggest knife available. If you separate the cake a little with the knife while making the first cut, you'll get an even more impressive flow of blood.
An alternate version of this cake I once did involved the heart actually beating. Instead of just pouring the blood into a hollow in the cake, I poured it into a Ziploc bag. The bag was then attached to a turkey baster via a length of rubber tubing. I placed the bag inside the hollow in the cake, leaving the baster outside, concealed under a piece of fabric that I draped decoratively around the perimeter of the cake. The hollow in this cake was deeper than the hollow in the other version of the cake, so that the bag was very near the surface of the cake. When I squeezed the bulb of the turkey baster in rhythm, the bag expanded and contracted, pushing up the top of the cake, so the heart appeared to be beating.
Of course, this version of the cake isn't optimal for serving, since in order to get the blood out, you have to pull the bag out of the cake, puncture the bag, and pour the blood either into a bowl or on top of the cut pieces of cake. This is inconvenient, but does have the advantage of being entertainingly messy. I wound up with the hands dripping with raspberry blood sauce! Jason Voorhees himself never looked better!
Another variation I've done, which requires a little more sculptural skill, is to make an oversized anatomical heart. For this cake, I started with a large round cake, and then carved it into the shape of a heart. I used fondant icing to cover the cake and to sculpt additional veins and arteries, then painted the whole thing with food coloring, mostly red (obviously) and blue. The bleeding mechanism is the same as for the basic heart cake. When I made this cake I also poured a layer of clear hard sugar over the top, so cutting the cake would be like breaking someone's heart. I don't recommend this, though. It just made the cake very difficult to cut. Maybe this would work if you were planning to smash the cake with a hammer. If you spray or brush the cake with a little thinned corn syrup, you'll get the same oozy, wet look without the inconvenient hard candy shell.