I first saw the Thanksgiving meat layer cake concept on David Seah’s blog and finally remembered to make it for Thanksgiving this year! The cake is basically two round meatloafs, layered with some kind of filling (Dave used stuffing in his, but I went with cranberry sauce) and frosted with mashed potatoes. The result is a beautiful cake that looks scarily like a “real” frosted layer cake. I was afraid that the cake would look pretty but not really be edible, or be too much meatloaf for refined palettes, but it turned out surprisingly delicious and the leftovers were great, too.
I started with a basic meatloaf recipe. I wasn’t exactly sure how much meatloaf I would need to fill my two 9″ round cake pans, so I decided to just make a lot and then use leftovers for meatballs or something similar. As it turned out, I serendipitously had just enough to fill both cake pans to the brim. Although I didn’t really measure per se, here’s what I roughly did to make the meatloaf:
Meatloaf for Thanksgiving Meat Cake
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 4 tsp mustard
- 4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 2 packages ground turkey (I think they were about 1 lb each)
- 1 lb. ground beef (for more meaty flavor)
- about .75 or 1 lb ground pork (just because I had some and I thought it would help loosen up the mixture and add some yummy pork fat flavor)
- 3-4 cups fresh breadcrumbs
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium or medium-high heat until shimmering, cook onion until softened.
- Stir in the garlic and thyme and cook for a few seconds.
- Mix the eggs, milk, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper in a small bowl or large liquid measuring cup.
- Mix the meat, wet mixture, onion mixture, and breadcrumbs together.
- Pat the mixture into two round cake pans, slightly indenting the middle of the loaf.
- Bake until the center of the loaf is at 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. (I started checking at about 45 minutes but I think it took about an hour total.)
- If you need to, gently tip the pans and drain the juices, then let the layers cool.
I had already made the cranberry sauce that morning, making plenty extra to have on the side….
Homemade cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving Meat Cake
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 lb. cranberries
- Boil the sugar, water, and salt in a nonstick saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
- Add the cranberries and simmer until the cranberries pop open and the liquid thickens slightly.
- Cool to room temperature (about an hour). The sauce will become the right consistency.
While the cake cooled, I made the mashed potatoes:
Mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving Meat Cake
- lots of potatoes (I think I had 6 large potatoes, but I was making extra potatoes for a side dish)
- a stick or two of butter
- a cup or two of heavy whipping cream
- salt and pepper
- Peel potatoes and cut into large chunks.
- Put potatoes in a pot and cover with water.
- Bring to a boil, then simmer until potatoes are tender.
- Scoop potatoes into a standing mixer bowl, mashing roughly with spoon as you do so.
- Put the mixer on low/stirring speed. Cut in a generous amount of butter as it stirs.
- Add the heavy cream while it stirs until the potatoes are a good frosting-like consistency.
- Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
Now for the assembly!
I used nonstick cake pans so getting the meatloaf out and onto a plate was really easy. I spread a layer of cranberry sauce over the first layer, keeping it away from the edges so that it wouldn’t spill out.
Using my fingers, I made a ring of mashed potatoes around the cranberry sauce to help contain it (it probably would’ve been easier if I had done the potatoes first).
Placing the second layer on top, I spread a quick layer of potatoes over everything as the “sealing” layer.
Then, I piled on the potatoes and used a metal spatula to smooth it down. I also scooped potatoes into a pastry bag, cut off the tip, and did a very basic decorative edge around the top and bottom of the cake. Finally, I added a few cranberries (pulled out from the sauce) on top.
The cake held together nicely when cut with a sharp knife. Because I’d made this earlier in the day, we had to heat up the individual slices in the microwave before serving. With extra cranberry sauce spooned over each slice, it was delicious!!