Or, I Fell Into a Sugary Pit of Goodness.
Here at They Knew They Were Pilgrims, we pride ourselves on our innovation. We do things that no man has ever done before…well, for at least a few hundred years, anyway. Today, however, we bring to you, what we are 99.9% sure is a world first*. I really, truly believe that we are the only people in the world who are doing this kind of groundbreaking research. Because of this precedent, I wasn’t really surprised to find myself having the following conversation:
“Hey Ana, wanna come over and help me make a replica charcoal pit in cake form?”
“How are you going to make this cake, did you google it?”, Ana replied.
“Yes. Because making an edible charcoal pit is DEFINITELY what normal people do.”
Earlier this week, I might have mentioned a little thing called Charcoal Burn, an autumn tradition in the English Village. Our Artisans work long days and nights to make this happen, and after hours, we keep them company and spur them on. When I told them I was thinking about making breakfast muffins, you know, the kind that is supposed to be good for you, with fruit, or bran, or both in it, they said “what, no cake?“. Ah yes, cake. Good idea.
So here it is folks, probably a world first.
How To Build A Charcoal Pit, As Illustrated Through The Medium Of Cake
Construct a tunnel, triangular in shape, in which you will set your fire.
Keep building that tunnel until it is as tall as you would like your pit to be. Pretzel sticks are very hard to stack this way. Don’t worry, it will be easier with real sticks.
Begin stacking your wood/pretzels around the tunnel. The first layer or two needs to be stacked pretty carefully and evenly. It helps if you can get some chocolate fudge breeze in which to stick your sticks.
Keep building up your pit. This time, we made two layers. It needs to be a smooth and rounded as possible, so take some smaller pieces of wood/pretzel and fill in the gaps. The more gaps that are left between the wood, the more likely dangerous air pockets are to form, which causes the wood to burn too hot, and turn to ash not coal! Nooooo!!
Cover the whole pile of pretzels with hay. Or cover the wood with cake. I forget which.
Starting at the bottom of the stack, cover all the pretzels and cake, or wood and hay with chocolate fudge or breeze. Note the pretzels placed at regular intervals around the bottom of the pit – these will become vents for fueling the fire later. Don’t forget to keep the opening to your tunnel open, otherwise you’ll have some digging to do!
As a final, finishing touch, sprinkle on cookie crumbs to represent the little bits of charcoal that remain in the breeze from past years of burning. Don’t worry, the cookie crumbs are not actually from last year. This part of the cake making process is the only part that isn’t based on an actual part of the coal pit building process. The breeze is dirt and ash and bits of charcoal all mixed together. We had to add our “charcoal” afterwards.
Construct a windshield to protect the cake from the weather. If you noticed the ring of marshmallow in the first couple of pictures, this is where that comes in handy. The marshmallow made a built up ring of breeze around the very edge of the pit/plate. That ring of breeze, in reality, is where the posts are set for the actual wind screen. I set my pretzel wind screen into the marshmallows covered in chocolate. YUM.
Admire said work.
This step happens in the construction of a real pit, too.
Upon cutting into the cake, Mr Atchinson cried “WE HAVE COAL!”
And then, more seriously, he said “that’s exactly what it’s supposed to look like”. I’d call that a success.
And, here’s a picture of Mark in his element lighting the pit. Just because.
*If you happen to know anyone who has attempted such a feat, please let me know. I’d love to compare notes on the best way to stack a pretzel stick tunnel.