Pizza Lab #40: Birthday Cake Pizza
Alright guys. We’ve done some zany shit involving pizzas, before. I’ll admit it. We’ve hit some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle joke-levels of wackiness with Pizza Lab. We’ve done curry pizza, chicken & waffles pizza, cheesecake pizza, and all sorts of other insane mashups. But we have once again managed to outdo ourselves with a pizza so delightfully out-there, that it actually kind of demolishes out-there and flies far, far beyond it. I present to you: Birthday Cake Pizza.
Let’s clear any confusion, immediately. No, this is not a cake that is simply shaped like a pizza. We’ve seen that a thousand times by people thinking it’s a clever idea for pizza lovers. Cute? Yes. But step aside, blokes, amateur hour is over. I wanted to do something special for Meg’s birthday, and have had this in mind for a long time. This is not a cake that looks like a pizza, but rather it is a pizza with birthday cake built into it.
As you can see from the cross-section here, we managed to combine the whimsy of a birthday cake with the beautiful, blank canvas that is pizza dough. I’m sure many of the closer-minded individuals reading have already shaken their heads and stopped reading at this point (whom I have to plead, please explore dessert pizzas and understand that pizza dough is just like rice, in that it goes great with everything), so let’s go over this and explain how this beautiful concept came to be.
First things first, was to put together some cake batter. There’s a million options out there, but we went with plain, yellow cake mix since in my mind, that’s the classic birthday cake look. Normally, it’s fun and useful to explore different homemade batters, but in this case we used a regular box mix to save time. I mean, really, it’s going on a pizza crust; it doesn’t have to be the greatest cake ever made. We tried to make the batter layer generous enough to be noticeable when eaten, but stopped just before it started spilling out over the outer crust.
As we normally do, we gave the outer crust a little bit of a garnish, in the form of crystal sugar. Unfortunately, being the birthday girl, Meg went a bit overboard and we were left with something resembling a combination between Cookie Monster and a meth lab.
With the addition of some other sprinkles just to break up the monotony of the plain yellow batter, this pizza was already to go into the oven. This was an interesting conundrum for us however, since we usually par-bake dessert pizzas without toppings for a little bit to prevent everything from burning. Yet here we had a load of raw cake batter that needed to be baked for a decent length of time as well. We figured the two would balance out since cakes usually bake anywhere from like 25 minutes up to 45 minutes, and we were using a very small amount of batter compared to a full cake. We popped the pizza in for its usual 15-20 minutes at 425º, and to our delight it worked out great.
So obviously we weren’t gonna put cheese on a sweet, cake-themed pizza. We went the opposite route and figured the best way to top this pie was with cake frosting. But rather than just use shitty sugary meltdown canned frosting, we took a different spin on it. Rather than actual frosting, we instead went with everybody’s favorite peanut butter alternative, Nutella.
Awesomely, but really not surprisingly since it’s so good, the Nutella delivered the same taste as chocolate frosting, but just better and not as disgustingly sweet and sugar-laden. Lastly, we garnished with some classic jimmies sprinkles because no birthday cake is complete without sprinkles.
So the part you skeptics are all probably dying to read: yes, it tasted good. In fact, it tasted great. As I said earlier, the beauty of pizza dough is that it effectively takes on the flavor of whatever you use it with. It’s mad versatile since it has both a slight sweetness and a slight saltiness to it. It’s starchy, and starches basically absorb flavor from other sources. Know how stuff like rice and oats and other grains taste good with everything? Pizza crust is basically a giant sheet of that. That’s why it works so well, and how we’re able to pull ff such batshit-insane experiments like this.
Specifically, the birthday cake pizza tasted mostly like, well, a birthday cake. Each bite gave a generous amount of chocolate flavor from the nutella spread, and the cake itself was enough to be noticeable, but without monopolizing the subtle, little bit of flavor that pizza dough actually has. One interesting product of this pizza, however, was that the combination of brushing baking soda on the crust to brown it, plus the crystal sugar, pretty much made the outer crust taste just like a sugar cookie. It was uncanny, but an awesome bonus. Probably my favorite part of this pizza, however, was its texture. It tasted like cake, yet had the chewiness of the pizza dough, since they baked into one another in two layers. It was totally unique, and I say unique in a good way.
This pizza is a miraculous thing. We were incredibly happy with how it came out, not just because it tasted good, but because it now sets a precedent. As I mentioned, I’ve wanted to do this pizza for at least a year, but we never bothered since I didn’t think it’d really work. But no more. Now that cake batter can be baked on crust, the sky is the limit. Pretty much anything can go on there, in my humble opinion. Most importantly of all, though, is that now we have a means to serve real pizza as real birthday cake, to sing to, at parties.