In trying to create a cake that reflected Marian's disturbed state of mind, I finally decided on a cheesecake with a lasagne complex. It's symbolic of the various psychoses alluded to in the book as well as representing the love triangle - or is it more of a sandwich? - between Peter, Marian and Duncan:
Peter, Marian's fiance, is the graham crackers as he is a seemingly solid individual who crumbles under the pressure of being the last remaining bachelor among his friends. Marion is the cherry filling because she is compelled to play the 'scarlet woman' by carrying on a relationship with both men. And Duncan, an eccentric and impossibly pale grad student, is the cream cheese layer. (Spread it as smooth as possible in a nod to his love of ironing).
How would you interpret The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood? All cakes and comments welcome.
A few notes before we start:
- I can't get graham crackers here in the UK so I am indebted to Smitten Kitchen for her post on making your own. However, if you intend to assemble these individually and serve immediately (like I did) then the store bought variety may be more convenient. According to this yahoo forum store bought graham crackers are 5 x 2.5 inches which is pretty close to the ones I made measuring 4 x 2.5 inches (aprox.)
- I have an inkling that this would work assembled as one large cake though you would need a rectangular springform pan (9 x 13 x 3 inch) or maybe you could build 'sides' out of foil / plastic wrap covered cardboard until ready to serve. In this case, assemble everything in the springform pan (cherries and all) and chill 2-3 hours or until ready to serve. I'm guessing it may be easier to slice before taking the sides away. Please leave me a comment if you try this, I'd love to know how it turns out!
- Lastly, I went overboard with the cherries for the slice shown here in the photo. There are 24 in all - 6 on each edge then filled with the thickened cherry sauce in the middle. You don't have to do this! It tastes exactly the same if you don't. If you wanted to do this with all 9 slices you'd either need a fair few few cans of pie mix (I estimate there were only 30 cherries in one 400g tin) or it may be more economical to make your own filling. My Baking Addiction has a nice looking recipe. I wish I'd made my own filling to go with my homemade graham crackers. Maybe next time.
Cherry Cheesecake Lasagna
Makes 9 slices
18 graham crackers, store bought or homemade (see note 1, above)
750g cream cheese
300ml sour cream
9 tbsp icing sugar, or to taste
2 tsp vanilla
2 tins cherry pie mix (400g) or homemade cherry filling (see note 3, above)
If you are making your own graham crackers, bake them on two 7.5 x 11.5 inch cookie trays and do not score or cut them into rectangles either before you bake them or after they have cooled on a wire rack (you'll see why in a minute). Once cool, line the same cookie trays with greaseproof paper leaving an inch or two hanging over one end to use as a handle later. Place the uncut graham crackers back onto the lined tray.
Mix cream cheese, sour cream, icing sugar and vanilla in a bowl and adjust sweetness to taste. Reserve one third of the mixture in a piping bag (it will be used to top the desserts just before serving - you'll want to pipe it to avoid disturbing the delacate balance of the slices) and spread the other two thirds over the graham cracker trays. Place in the refrigerator until firm, about 2-3 hours, or until ready to serve.
If you're using store bought graham crackers, spread a layer of cream cheese mix onto each of the rectangles and place on a tray to chill in the fridge and continue as per instructions below.
* Only assemble as many slices as you intend to eat* (or see note 2, above)
To assemble, carefully slide one graham cracker and cream cheese slab onto a cutting board using the grease proof paper handle to pull it along. Cut into 9 rectangles and place each one on a serving plate. Spread with cherry pie mix. Slide the second slab onto the cutting board, as before, and cut into 9 rectangles. Place each one cream cheese side down on top of the ones spread with cherries. Pipe the remaining cream cheese mix on top and either spoon on more cherry pie mix or garnish with individual cherries.
*Serve immediately or they'll slide apart!*