Step-by-Step Instructions: How to Win a Slideluck Bake-Off


Congratulations to Leah Howe on her “Nondescript Building that is actually a Colorful Rainbow of Culture” cake, winner of the Slideluck Bushwick II Cake-Bake-Off.

Here’s how she did it:

  1. Decide to participate in Slideluck Potshow’s Bushwick bake-off!
  2. Clear your schedule.
  3. Remind yourself that you have a friend’s birthday this evening.
  4. Feel a little uneasy. Ignore it.
  5. Come up with a design that is sure-fire, can’t-miss, simple-yet-complex; in a word, brilliant.
  6. Go to your local miniatures shop and pick out a few diminutive Lay’s potato chip bags and a teeny Victoria’s Secret shopping bag.
  7. Go to a baking store.
  8. Marvel at the number of items available. Allow yourself a moment to be overwhelmed.
  9. Move to the food-coloring aisle and pick-out five gel food-colorings in vibrant colors (Georgia peach, sky blue, mint green and rose are good ones). Add black and ivory food–coloring gels to your basket.
  10. Pay.
  11. Go to every single toy store in a five-mile radius to look for a toy bicycle, your most important prop.
  12. Do not find a toy bicycle.
  13. Panic.
  14. Go to every single toy store within a two-mile radius of your apartment to look for a toy bicycle, your MOST. IMPORTANT. PROP.
  15. Do not find a toy bicycle.
  16. Go to the grocery store near your house to buy cake ingredients.
  17. Blink repeatedly when faced with the cost of organic butter.
  18. Experience abject joy at the discovery that the grocery store has the correctly sized aluminum pans, and feel that this is a sign.
  19. Remind yourself that you do not believe in signs.
  20. Feel tension turn to joy when you come up with the perfect material with which to create the edible Slideluck logo: red fruit roll-ups!
  21. Marvel at how kid’s foods have become so branded that you struggle to find a red fruit roll-up that does not feature an animated character immortalized in flat, rolled fruit.
  22. Be inspired as to how to create the needed mini-bicycle and place a package of pasta wheels into your basket.
  23. Pay.
  24. Suffer under the weight of your canvas grocery bags as you walk home in 95-degree heat.
  25. Get out the measuring cups and set up the mixer.
  26. Make batter.
  27. Divide batter amongst all of the bowls in the house.
  28. Mix in food coloring gels using all of the spoons in the house.
  29. Layer colorful batters in a baking pan one dollop at a time.
  30. Bake.
  31. Wash all of the bowls and all of the spoons in the house.
  32.  Repeat process until you have six colorful cakes and an apartment that has now reached 350 degrees.
  33. Go to friend’s birthday party and only talk about the cake.
  34. Show everyone at the bar pictures of the six colorful cakes.
  35. Realize you are slurring as you tell a stranger about the lack of mini-bicycles in this city.
  36. Go home and cover the cake-board with two coats of cement-gray paint.
  37. Collapse.
  38. Wake up hung-over.
  39. Take a deep breath and check the time.
  40. Go for a run.
  41. Make an impossible amount of almond buttercream and divide it between two transparent bowls.
  42. Take one of the bowls of buttercream downstairs to the street, along with the black and ivory food coloring gels and a few spoons.
  43. Add a quarter teaspoon of black gel and an eighth of a teaspoon of ivory gel to the white buttercream and mix thoroughly.
  44. Place the bowl down on the gray cement sidewalk and inspect for accuracy of color.
  45. Add more black and inspect again.
  46. Add more ivory.
  47. Add more black.
  48. Add more ivory.
  49. From your squatted sidewalk position smile up at your neighbors as they come out the door to go to work.
  50. Remember that you are wearing pajama bottoms.
  51. Decide that the color is a good enough match and head back upstairs trying not to get buttercream in the elevator.
  52. Place your first colorful cake layer on the cement gray board and cover with white buttercream.
  53. Place your second cake layer on top of the first and cover with white buttercream.
  54. Continue this process until the five layers are stacked.
  55. Starting from the top of the cake spread the cement colored buttercream over the top and down all four sides of the rectangular cake stack.
  56. Smooth the gray buttercream out with a pastry spatula until it is all very smooth and begins to look a little bit like a building.
  57. Feel overjoyed!
  58. Throw everything in the refrigerator out.
  59. Cover the cake gently with aluminum foil and place it on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator to firm up.
  60. Put a small saucepan of water on the stove and add black food coloring gel, pasta wheels, and a few pieces of spaghetti. Boil.
  61. Remove the now-black pasta from the water and let it all dry on paper towels.
  62. Cut the Slideluck logo out of fruit roll-up and lay it on top of the cake.
  63. Create mini puddles out of sugar syrup and glue these and all the miniature props to the cake board.
  64. Create a mini-sign that says “Slideluck Potshow Bushwick Tonight!” and position it on the cake board.
  65. Roll up small pieces of mint and newspaper and litter these around the cake board.
  66. Take the two black pasta wheels and tiny pieces of black spaghetti and glue these all together. BEHOLD a mini-bicycle!
  67. Gently lean the mini-bicycle against the cake.
  68. Feel like Michelangelo must have felt when he signed La Pieta´.
  69. Shower. Dress. Call a car.
  70. Arrive at the new Bushwick headquarters of Slideluck Potshow and let the nice lady take the cake out of your hands.
  71. Collect a bottle of delicious Brooklyn Lager from the kind Brooklyn Brewery bartender and pat yourself on the back with it.
  72. Prepare yourself a delectable plate of potluck and eat heartily.
  73. Watch as the cake is cut and the gray, cement walls of the non-descript “Bushwick building”, set in the center of the urban city-block littered with trash, open to reveal the structure’s vibrant interior colors.
  74. Appreciate the metaphor.
  75. Win! Watch the crowd go wild.
  76. Have another beer and grab a seat for the slideshow. It has been a good day.


– Leah Howe 2013

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