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I made ketchup-and-mustard cake, and I’ve never regretted anything more |

I made ketchup-and-mustard cake, and I’ve never regretted anything more

Earlier this week, Shared.com’s recipe for ketchup-and-mustard cake went viral online. Reactions ranged from hopeful (“the resulting confection appears to be appetizing,” says one food writer) to horrified (“I’ll just make my personal, official statement “WHY” and “NO” and “PLEASE GOD WHY NO,” writes another). The Post’s Rachelle Bergstein took matters into her own kitchen: Here, her self-described “emotional journey” with the condiment cake.

I’m going to be honest: I was rooting for this cake.


I love ketchup, I’m more than cool with mustard and I like a good underdog story.

So I decided to give this strange-looking viral recipe a shot. I called in a friend, a trained pastry chef who manages a Long Island Shake Shack.

“Whoever came up with this is a monster,” Paige said when I sent her the recipe.

Still, she arrived at my three-story walk-up toting a 3 gallon bag of ketchup in a kitchen Cambro. (The recipe, by the way, only calls for half a cup of ketchup.)

We roped in my husband, who is pretty serious about his food — he once helped serve a six-course meal on the L-train. We also included my 2-year-old, because he likes ketchup so much he dips grapes in it.

As we started measuring the ingredients, we mused about the appropriate venue for a ketchup-and-mustard cake. It would kill at a Fourth of July barbecue, we decided. We were practically putting it on the calendar.

All of this is to say, we gave this cake a fair chance. A jury of its peers.

The verdict: It stinks.

I mean that literally. Have you ever folded ketchup into creamed butter and sugar? The vinegar smell is so strong and out of place, it’s like someone’s just peed into the mixing bowl.

I was dreading licking the spoon.

But when I did, I was pleasantly surprised. The ketchup flavor was subtler than I’d expected. The fall spices — cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg — actually worked, and smelled even nicer as they baked in the oven.

We took the cake out of the oven, holding our breaths. Together, we took bite, chewed — and exhaled.

“It’s actually not a bad spice cake!” Paige said. And, it wasn’t: moist, with a flavor reminiscent of an apple cider doughnut. Tasty on its own, with the potential to be even tastier with, say, some cream cheese frosting and candied ginger.


Tastes as good as it looks!Rachelle Bergstein

Unfortunately, we couldn’t improvise. And, this marathon was only half over. Next up: mustard frosting.

We whipped butter. I measured confectioner’s sugar, then sifted it (you know, because a few lumps might ruin it).

As we poured 1 ¹/₂ cups of the strong-smelling yellow condiment into the KitchenAid, the sense memories started taking hold: It was Giants Stadium, my father’s backyard, pastrami on rye.

It was mustard buttercream. MUSTARD BUTTERCREAM. Was there any chance it was good?

Reader, I tasted it.

It was straight up one of the worst things I’ve ever consumed: A sweet, creamy, mustardy mousse.

Have you ever eaten honey mustard and thought, “Hmm, maybe I should put this on a cupcake?” No? There’s a reason for that.

And yet, dutifully, we frosted the cake. (Recipe note: You’ll have lots of extra mustard frosting left over, in case you want use it on tomorrow’s hot pretzel muffins. Or set it on fire.) We garnished the finished product with pickle spears, because why not?

I don’t think I need to say that the final tasting didn’t go very well. This cake is an abomination. We were laughing so hard we were crying. My son had gone to bed, and I didn’t bother saving any for him. In the wild, it’s called a mother protecting her young.

Sure, there were moments of hope along the way. The ketchup cake itself was surprisingly nice. But at the end of the day, mustard belongs on hot dogs, not baked goods.

Save yourself the time — and the stomachache.

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