The Cake is a Lie

Welcome to Nosh Your Novels! 

I started this blog to combine some of my favorite things- baking and books. I have done a lot of baking and a lot reading since the pandemic began. I baked along to every challenge of last year's Great British Baking Show, made about a dozen king cakes between Epiphany and Mardi Gras, etc., etc., and I've been reading a book every day or two. And sometimes, some of the books I read have such lovely descriptions of food, that I think I want that. So that's what this blog is. Me talking about books that I love, and baking things inspired by them. 

Be warned: this initial post will be a little different from what I'm planning going forward, as it's more a compilation of recipes than a recipe itself, it is a little long, and it's a little less authentic and/or thematic than future posts will be, but it's my (belated) birthday cake and it is, quite frankly, perfect.

This bake was inspired by Looking for Group, by Alexis Hall. As anyone who has spoken to me recently knows, I'm kind of just a tiny little bit obsessed with Alexis Hall. If we're being perfectly honest, my desire to bake every recipe from his forthcoming novel, Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake, was a significant inspiration for starting this blog.

Looking for Group is a "nerdmance," which is to say romantic and heavily focused on video and computer games. As anyone reading this probably knows me, you probably know that while I am very proudly very nerdy, I have not played many video games, and thus had to dig deeply from having watched The Guild and reading the lovely and helpful Glossary to make sense of much of the book. I can honestly swear that even if you do not play video games, the book is excellent and I would recommend this book to pretty much anyone. It's YAish, with its college-age characters finding first love and finding themselves and all that that entails. Like all of Alexis Hall's books, it is beautifully written, extremely clever, has wonderfully developed characters, and balances more serious issues with humor and heart in a way that speaks to my soul and makes me come back to read it over and over again. 

To be honest, Looking for Group is not the most food-centric of books. The most memorable foods in the book are Pizza Express and strawberries, however, there is a birthday party with a cake. A cake that says, "The cake is a lie" in green icing. And when I read that bit I was absolutely delighted because it was a video game reference I actually understood as my college boyfriend was obsessed with Portal. So, for the first time ever, I'm glad that he made me play Portal because it meant I got the joke all on my own.

And so I decided to bake a "The Cake Is A Lie" cake. 

But unlike the birthday cake in Looking for Group which is, you know, cake... I took it one step further and, as it proudly proclaims, this cake is... a lie. 

A lovely, delicious, lie, and a perfect (belated) birthday cake for an April Fool, like me.

"The Cake Is A Lie" is a spaghetti cake, filled with slow roasted tomato jam, and frosted with whipped ricotta. I made everything from scratch, including the pasta and ricotta, which means this cake is a bit of a time commitment (though a lot of the things I made you could certainly buy, if you really wanted to take all the fun and bragging rights away from yourself).

I split this into two days, one to do the components and one to put together the "cake." 

I started by making the slow roasted tomatoes, from a fabulous Smitten Kitchen recipe. This is a particularly beloved recipe which I have made so many times I do not have look it up anymore. The only thing I would change is that for this particular use, I tossed half of the roasted tomatoes in a food processor to make a more jammy consistency for the "cake" filling.

Next, ricotta. You could buy ricotta if you really want to, but once again I'm going to bow to Deb Perlman's infinite genius and recommend this recipe. It is one I've made an alarming number of times, and is easily adaptable based on whatever dairy is in the fridge to make up the right volume. I usually cut the recipe in half, but for the "cake" I doubled it, and recommend you do too. You could buy some prepackaged ricotta, but you would be doing yourself a disservice because this is rich and lemony and perfect.

I also went with a homemade spaghetti, adapted from I am a Food Blog. I love this recipe and have played around with it a lot, using some combination any kinds of flours I have, and it always turns out well. For my "cake" I swapped out some AP for semolina and whole wheat flour to make it a little heartier. It turned out lovely, but if you wanted to just use boxed pasta, I don't know that using homemade pasta really added anything here. I normally cook my fresh pasta fresh, but in this case, I dried it to make the "cake" another day.

For the "cake" I again turned to a Smitten Kitchen recipe which she calls Spaghetti Pie, but I'm not calling it pie, because of course what I'm making is a lie of a cake.

I followed the directions in that link (with no broccoli rabe because as tasty as that sounds, it does not look like cake and I wanted this not-a-cake to look like cake). Also note, if you're using your fresh pasta, cooking it two minutes less than al dente means basically not cooking it at all. I'd dried mine and cooked it for about two minutes. If you're using it fresh fresh fresh, you probably just want to dunk it in boiling water and pull it straight out again. 

Other than that, just follow the instructions as linked above, and you will end up with a lovely little spaghetti cake.

Once the cake came out and COMPLETELY cooled, I began assembly by carefully slicing it in half and filling it with the jammy tomatoes.

I also took out my ricotta, setting just a little aside, in two bowls. One got a little chopped basil, the other some juice from a roasted beet. (I did actually roast a beet just for this... and sure I could've made mashed beet filling instead of slow roasting tomatoes, but I really love those tomatoes and they go SO WELL with the ricotta and it was my birthday cake so I did what I darn well pleased.) I found the basil didn't get the ricotta quite green enough, so I added a little green food dye.

Then I whipped the ricotta in a stand mixer to a frosting-like consistency. 

When I tried to frost the cake, the tomato jam oozed out and mixed with the ricotta, so I just used it like a crumb coat and stuck the whole thing back in the fridge. I was worried I'd run out of "frosting" so I added a little extra heavy whipping cream to the pink ricotta and what was left of the un-colored, and whipped them up to a nice light pink frosting. I let that all chill in the fridge for a bit and then tried frosting again and it worked much better. 

I piped "the cake is a lie" in green, and some leaves for the roses. I added a little pink food dye to the remaining pink icing after the "cake" was "iced" to pipe the roses, and then used the remainder to make the cake sort of ombré and...

I'm not going to lie, I was nervous that this might be a lot of work and not come together but... this was a triumph. <3

Happy April Fool's Day!

I promised the next post will have an actual recipe in the post, but for now, if you want to make any or all of this, the recipes I used can be found as follows:

Smitten Kitchen's Spaghetti Pie with Pecorino and Black Pepper

Smitten Kitchen's Slow Roasted Tomatoes

Smitten Kitchen's Rich Homemade Ricotta

I am a Food Blog's Fresh Pasta


  1. What a great story. I love books and eating and wow, what a lie! Fabulous

  2. I was astounded this was not real cake! Genius! Looking forward to more posts show-casing your talents. xoxo AL

  3. Insanely clever and profoundly talented

  4. Replies
    1. I thought it was great. My friends who got slices all said it tasted good, though a few found it a little weird to eat something that looked like cake but tasted like spaghetti, tomatoes, and cheese.


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