Tasting One for the Team: Harvey Wallbanger Cake
“Wait, what’s even in a Harvey Wallbanger?” To be perfectly honest, when our new friend Megan Giller of Chocolate Noise mentioned this drink-themed cake, I couldn’t remember what was in the actual drink. I remembered that my dad went through a phase of making them for cocktail hour, but that when I was in elementary school and I never actually tasted any.
A Harvey Wallbanger is really just a Screwdriver Plus: Vodka and orange juice, with a float (oog) of Galliano, which I don’t think I’ve ever encountered anywhere else. Indeed, it seems that the Wallbanger was popularized by a very canny Galliano salesman to boost interest in the herb-and-vanilla flavored liqueur.
You can read Megan’s firsthand account of the actual cake-making process over on Tastebook (as well as a recipe for a non-boxed version that actually sounds pretty delicious). This is from a family cookbook that her grandmother put together; but apparently if you Google “Harvey Wallbanger Cake,” this exact same recipe comes up. Apparently it was very common.
Here is a photo Megan took of the ingredients. She actually had to buy the Orange Supreme cake mix online, as it’s apparently not as widely available as it once was. Once the batter is mixed, it looks like this:
Wow. It’s…so orange!
Well. Now that we’re all properly educated…
“It just smells like boxed cake mix.”
“The texture’s kind of…gummy. It’s very…almost wet. It doesn’t taste bad; what it tastes like is Vitamin C. Like that artificial orangey Vitamin C. Like a Flintstone vitamin. The alcohol kind of comes in the aftertaste. I get the alcohol more in smelling it than actually tasting it. It’s not bad.”
“It just smells like cupcake mix, but kinda orangey. I’m trying to get the whole situation here.”
“Whoo! Alright. At the end, it’s like, an uppercut of alcohol. Hoo. It’s like a boozy grandma in a cake. Yeah, then you get this Vitamin C aftertaste, like very minerally…I mean, it’s not terrible, it’s just not something that I would voluntarily want to eat. It’s fine.”
“I taste the vitamin C, like, Emergen-C orange flavor. You know, it’s not that bad. The beginning is fine, and it goes a little downhill from there. But it’s innocent.”
Meanwhile, Monique is perusing the rest of the cookbook. There is a recipe for Macaroni & Cheese by Patti LaBelle.
“It’s a lovely pastel shade of orange.”
“It’s very moist. It’s…moist. Yeah. It’s…orange. I’m not really getting the booze, maybe I need more of the frosting…Oh yeah, the booze is in the frosting. I think the liquor taste in the cake is kind of baked out. Is it weird that I’m still eating it though?”
Megan gamely eats a piece, even though she’s tried it many times before.
“Wow, it is really wet. I’ve made two, and this one is wetter than the other one. Maybe because it sat overnight? Is it a little underbaked? (Megan and Jen determine that it is.) I baked it for a lonnnng time. But there’s a lot of liquid, there’s water, vodka, Galliano, eggs.”
Michelle is still eating. “Push pops! It’s like Push pops.”
I decided to try the raw batter that Megan brought, because I am a wild beast that cannot be tamed and I refuse to play by the rules.
“Do you guys see this? Okay, I’m gonna gross myself out.”
“Wow. WOW. OH. It’s like an Orange Julius gone terribly wrong.”
Monique is still perusing the cookbook. She finds a drink called a Velvet Hammer (best name ever), which calls for a quart of vanilla ice cream, a cup of Cointreau, and a cup of crème de cacao. We need to make it, obviously.
“See, after the batter the cake seems a lot more appealing. I don’t hate it. I really like the moistness of it…? But I sort of like underbaked things too, I guess it’s a character flaw. But you have to get the glaze. I would put more glaze on the side to make it boozier.
“Yeah. I’m not mad at it. And I bet if you make it from scratch it’s a lot better.”
Michelle is still eating cake.
“I’m still eating this cake. Maybe I have a strange weakness for boxed cake.”
I totally kept eating it, too. I felt like the booze in the glaze kind of covered up the vitamin-y aftertaste.
Surprisingly not bad! Nobody spit it out, everyone took a second bite, and Michelle and I went back for more because we’re monsters. One out of five BLERGHs. It was good enough that we wrapped it up and stuck it in the fridge for later. (Then we thought better of it and threw it away.)
Until next time, monkeys!
Liz and the Liddabit crew
Just a reminder that we are gluttons for punishment and welcome submissions. Just stuff something gross into an old pillowcase, write the below address on it in glitter glue, and bring it into your friendly local post office for prompt delivery. Don’t forget to bring a jar full of dimes to pay the postage!
c/o: Liz Gutman
220 36th St.
Brooklyn, NY 11232