Verminous Dickens cake banned from Melbourne cake show

"Great Expectations, the Miss Havisham Cake," a remarkable, vermin-infested entry from the Hotham Street Ladies art collective was excluded from the Melbourne Cake Show on grounds of "bad taste." Boo!

Contraband Cake (Thanks, Ansible, via Submitterator)


  1. I appreciate the artistic merit and the skill involved in that cake. But it rather makes my stomach turn. I guess that was the point.

  2. “Bad taste” in terms of artistic merit, or it just didn’t taste good? :-) Personally, I like it (artistically).

  3. I’m guessing it was the maggots that did it. The mice are just too cute. It’s a little bit along the lines of submitting a dead floral arrangement to a flower show….that probably wouldn’t go over too big either. I think its funny and a great idea and as a cake decorator I appreciate the challenge of creating a cake that looks old. In addition to the fact that there aren’t so many famous literary cakes. Obviously the Melbourne cake police have no sense of humor.

  4. If there aren’t already bands called “Verminous Dickens” and “Haversham Cake”, then someone needs to start them right now!

  5. I can see where the folks organizing the show might have worried about it spoiling the show for some folks.

    I agree, the maggots were probably the detail which pushed it over the edge.

    Strikes me as perfectly reasonable for this season, though, and well executed. (Deconstructionist baking?). A better solution might have been to have an explicitly Halloween-themed section of the cake show, perhaps behind a partition to spare the feelings of those who would have trouble dealing with the concept

  6. The Melbourne Cake Show – it just sounds so hopelessly Victorian that it just might be Steam Punk! That cake definitely was.

  7. i’m confused. are the vermin real? unless the thing is actually infested with maggots, why would they disqualify it? disqualification for artistic merit in an artistic contest? that’s just ridiculous.

  8. I wonder if the show organizers had read their Dickens? The cake is thematically perfect for Miss Havisham, from the lonely jilted bride on top to the mouse-eaten holes below. It’s a pity it was rejected – I wonder if the little wormies were too much for them.

  9. I’m betting the maggots are gum paste. But really, they’d be better in marzipan.

    But the maggots don’t seem right for this. Miss Havisham’s cake wouldn’t be a nice moist environment. I’d think it would be better suited to beetles and their immature forms. Maggot imply rot. Miss Havisham was wasting away. She was all dried up, a different thing entirely.

  10. Melbourne Cake Show FAIL. They could have put it behind a curtain with suitable warnings to anyone at risk of getting the vapors or general pearl-clutching, and let people in a few at a time to see it. It would have been the hit of the show.

  11. Obviously, they disqualified this piece of food-art because none of the other cakes would have a chance if it was in the competition.

  12. I don’t think it works as a Miss Havisham Cake, the single figure on top is a nice touch. But the icing should be gray with some spray work for shading and spun sugar for spider-webs around the cake would make it more in theme. More decay on the cake–the cake itself still looks fresh.

    Google some images of other cakes of the same theme.

  13. Maybe they were disqualified, but have you read about any of the OTHER cakes? No? Well then, too bad for them, eh?

  14. I think you’ll find when they say ‘show’ they mean the decorated wedding cake competition at the Royal Melbourne Show. Its all very traditional and will be run by little old ladies who take their baking and cake decoration VERY seriously.

    1. I think you’ll find when they say ‘show’ they mean the decorated wedding cake competition at the Royal Melbourne Show. Its all very traditional and will be run by little old ladies who take their baking and cake decoration VERY seriously.

      They take everything seriously. Last year at the show I entered the Country Womens Association cafe by the wrong door and got shown the exit by a serious looking man and woman. I am sure the last thing they want to see at their competition is a bunch of renters from Collingwood.

  15. Ever hear of a litter box cake? Crushed Oreos for the litter and smoothed out Tootsie Rolls for the doodoo.

  16. The rat droppings and mold are ickier than the maggots & cute lil rats. Even though I *know* the rotting is faked, if I had to taste this cake as a contest judge, I’d probably start cutting off a tiny piece from the least moldy-looking corner, furthest from the rat poops. The sight of (fake or otherwise) rodent feces makes my brain fire off an automatic “Stop, you don’t want this!” message. Its like a built-in evolutionary response, maybe.

  17. The most prominent object was a long table with a tablecloth spread on it, as if a feast had been in preparation when the house and the clocks all stopped together. An épergne or centrepiece of some kind was in the middle of this cloth; it was so heavily overhung with cobwebs that its form was quite undistinguishable; and, as I looked along the yellow expanse out of which I remember its seeming to grow, like a black fungus, I saw speckled-legged spiders with blotchy bodies running home to it, and running out from it, as if some circumstances of the greatest public importance had just transpired in the spider community.

    I heard the mice too, rattling behind the panels, as if the same occurrence were important to their interests. But, the blackbeetles took no notice of the agitation, and groped about the hearth in a ponderous elderly way, as if they were short-sighted and hard of hearing, and not on terms with one another.

    These crawling things had fascinated my attention and I was watching them from a distance, when Miss Havisham laid a hand upon my shoulder. In her other hand she had a crutch-headed stick on which she leaned, and she looked like the Witch of the place.

    `This,’ said she, pointing to the long table with her stick, `is where I will be laid when I am dead. They shall come and look at me here.’

    With some vague misgiving that she might get upon the table then and there and die at once, the complete realization of the ghastly waxwork at the Fair, I shrank under her touch.

    `What do you think that is?’ she asked me, again pointing with her stick; `that, where those cobwebs are?’

    `I can’t guess what it is, ma’am.’

    `It’s a great cake. A bride-cake. Mine!’

  18. This is absolutely genius…. It’s almost better that they didn’t accept it. The revolution is nigh!

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