By Ola Mazzuca
Ever stroll the city, pass by a pale purple awning that reads “Designer Cupcakes” in cursive text? Do you smell a lingering scent of vanilla, flour and strawberries in the air? I bet you’ve always wanted to go inside, but maybe you feel a little inadequate in a Mayhem shirt graced with the cover of De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas.
There’s something evil baking in the kitchen of Kathy Bejma, a Chi-town native who’s creative to the max with her concept of merging metal with cupcakes. Developed in 2008, Metalcakes is a culinary tribute to her favourite bands, baking with supreme passion whilst listening to the most blasphemous of records. From the simple topping of whipped cream to the intricacy of edible flowers, Bejma’s blog includes a detailed account of each process, sharing her recipes with a global following.
This is my conversation with the Queen of Heavy Metal Cupcakes, which I hope will inspire you to go for that devil’s food topped with frosty dark chocolate the next time it comes your way.
When were you first introduced to the wonderful world of metal?
Well, for starters, I am the second daughter of a second daughter. My brother Kevin was 14 when I was born, and he claims that when I was in my infancy and I’d be crying or fussy, he’d put on some Judas Priest and I’d cheer right up! My Mom says running the vacuum cleaner would have the same effect on me, so I guess I’ve always been partial to anything heavy.
I also remember driving around with my sister Nancy when I was like 7 listening to her Appetite for Destruction cassette. “Welcome to the Jungle” was my total favorite. I would always make her rewind, and play it again.
But to be more precise, in 2000 or 2001, a friend at work invited me to go with him and some other kids to see High on Fire play at The Fireside Bowl. Fireside, here in Chicago, is basically a normal bowling alley during the day, but at night they have crusty punk and dirty metal shows. Anyway, I went there with some kids to see High on Fire. As soon as they started playing, I fucking froze. They were SOOOOO heavy! I was like, “Where have you been all my life?” I woke up. And that was that. I was hooked.
When and what did you bake for the first time?
I don’t really remember the first thing I ever baked, probably something in an Easy Bake Oven. I was always helping my mom (a master of desserts) in the kitchen when I was little. But I really got excited about baking in 7th grade when I took an elective Home Economics class entitled “Foods.”
Mrs. Susalla, who believed she was reincarnated from a mermaid, taught it. She had a collection of magic wands on her desk, and if it were your Birthday, she’d use one to grant you a wish. I still utilize a lot of the techniques I learned in that class, and a few of the recipes too!
At around the same time in my life, my Dad would go shoot pool with his friends every Wednesday night. So I’d bake a new recipe (usually cookies, or cinnamon rolls or something like that) for my Dad to take with him, and try with his friends. Yes I used them as guinea pigs, but they always gave me good feedback and constructive criticism.
What are misconceptions outsiders have when associating metalheads with food?
Wow! This is like an anthropological study! “When left to their own devices, what do Metalheads consume in their natural environment?”
Honestly, I’m unaware of any stereotypical food associated with Metal or Metalheads. Maybe burgers because of Kuma’s and The Grill ‘Em All truck…? I don’t know.
What I love most about the Metal scene is that there are so many different types of Metal (Thrash, Doom, Black, Death, Stoner, Speed…) and so many different types of Metalheads. There are Metalheads with short hair, long hair, lots of tattoos, no tattoos, carnivores, vegans… Honestly, all are welcome. It really is all about the music. So I don’t really think there are any misconceptions involving Metalheads and food, because whatever “rules” there might be about what it is to be a Metalhead, there are always exceptions. At least that’s been my experience.
Cupcakes are often considered a feminine, delicate and fluffy dessert. What’s tough and badass about cupcakes that many fail to recognize?
Are cupcakes feminine? I guess maybe because they’re small, sometimes pink, and if you put a cherry on top of two of them they can look like boobs.
I always think of cake as being for everyone! It’s fun for a boy and a girl.
The act of making cupcakes and baking in general can be pretty “Bad Ass.” It involves lots of beating, whipping and sacrificing of unborn chickens. Also ovens are kind of like mini-hells. It takes practice to become a good baker and generally speaking, anything that requires a lot of effort and passion to accomplish, is pretty Bad Ass.
Describe the birth of Metalcakes…
It was a dark and stormy night… Just kidding!
Basically I just created the type of blog I wished was out there. I had a few favourite baking blogs that were inspirational, but what I really wanted to read was a blog that had a bunch of good recipes and talked about music I like. So I just made it myself!
Cupcakes work really well in most situations because they’re portable, easily distributed, and there are an infinite number of flavor combinations involving cake, frosting, filling, and toppings. I personally always associate cake with a celebration, and that’s basically what I try to do with Metalcakes, celebrate bands I love. They deserve cake.
How do you apply metal to your baking? What’s involved in the creative process?
It’s pretty simple: I pick a band I like, and then I use a song or album title to inspire the look or flavor of a cupcake.
From there I start with a recipe I’ve baked before, then I modify it to get what I want.
Also, if the band plays Chicago (and they’re not too crazy famous like Pentagram or Autopsy) I try to bring a batch for them to eat in their van. Compared to the hours of escape they’ve given me with their music, it’s the least I can do.
What has been the most difficult cupcake to bake?
Some cupcakes are more tedious than others, especially the filled cupcakes. The Mercyful Fate: Don’t Break the Yolk Metalcakes were a bit of a challenge, because they involve Meringue frosting. You have to be patient enough to cook all the ingredients, and beat them into stiff peaks. If you’re too impatient, they won’t stiffen, and if you’re too slow, they’ll collapse. Plus when cooking the eggs along with the other ingredients, you have to be careful not to end up with scrambled eggs. It’s really a delicate balance that takes some practice to master.
You’ve baked cupcakes for one of your favourite bands, Skeletonwitch. How did they respond to your culinary dedication?
Oh… those kids in Skeletonwitch are always so nice to me! The first time I baked for them was when they opened for Danzig. Security tried to confiscate my cupcakes! Jerks. But their merch kid, Cliff, helped me hide them under a table and sneak them backstage later. He’s my partner in crime!
They’re always very excited about their Metalcakes. I think I promised Dustin (Boltjes) I’d bring him a bucket of frosting just for him with his name on the side next time. But they always take pictures and post them on Twatter, and then they save at least one of the little Skeletonwitch toppers I give them. They’ve been nothing but supportive of Metalcakes from the beginning, and I’ll always be grateful to them for that. Plus I think Chance is my agent now… 20% is fair, right?
Your favourite Metalcake thus far?
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: My cakes are my children! Don’t make me choose!
I get the most requests for Sepultura: Beneath the Cookies and Cremains. Those are always fun to make. The Gwar ones are fun too, because they look really scummy. I like making the Crom Metalcakes because it’s fun to make a bunch of coconut goat horns, and when I make the Black Cobra ones, I get to sip on the extra Horchata. Honestly, I’ve enjoyed making every single one of those recipes and I stand behind their deliciousness.
Put yourself in Buddy Valastro’s position. If you could bake 100 perfect cupcakes for the private birthday party of any metal artist/band, who would it be?
First of all, unlike Buddy, I would never use fondant. Fondant is for the weak.
I prefer to use different types of buttercream frosting, for their different consistencies.
Who would be my dream client? King Diamond. Mostly because I’d just really like to hang out with him and hear all his stories from the good ol’ days of metal.
Although, with his recent bypass surgery, I might have to make him a healthier version of the Mercyful Fate Metalcakes. But it would be totally worth it.
Anything else you wish to add?
Thanks for your interest in Metalcakes! I’m always surprised when I find out anyone actually reads my blog. My Mom won’t even read it because she says there are “too many swear words.”
Also, did you know that in Oslo, now there’s a bakery where Helvete used to be? At least the new owners preserved the wall in the basement where Euronymous painted “Black Metal.” With any luck, I’ll be able to visit one day!