Artist’s Palate: Tom Sachs’ Baked Alaska
Among the sculptor Tom Sachs’ cultural appropriations, remixes and samplings (such as a McDonald’s on wheels, a cardboard Chanel chainsaw and an Unité d’Habitation cut from foamcore), space exploration, in its Cold War pomp, has remained a constant. In 2007, his exhibition ‘Space Program’ included a scale-model lunar landing module and a mission control with dozens of video monitors. His sculptural borrowings are never quite perfect, so that he can show his working – and get to place a vodka bar in the Lunar Excursion Module. His take on a Baked Alaska, the Fiery Re-entry Descent Dessert, is proof we should ask more space-obsessed sculptors for their fave recipes. He suggests Sara Lee all-butter pound cake to form the insulation tiles and has Bacardi 151 providing the pyrotechnics. Best served wearing Tyvek space mittens.
1 pint Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream
A small piece of AC fir plywood
1 Sara Lee all-butter pound cake
5 large egg whites
1 pinch cream of tartar
100g (3/4 cup) of sugar
1 shot (1.5oz) Bacardi 151
Step 1 Set the freezer to its coldest setting. Put the vanilla ice cream on the plywood sheet. Wrap in thin plastic wrap. Smooth out air bubbles by hand. Place on the bottom shelf of the freezer overnight.
Step 2 Remove the plastic wrap. Slice the pound cake into 2cm-thick slices – these are your ‘heat insulation’ tiles. Tessellate tiles to form insulation shield surrounding the entire command module-shaped ice cream core. Wrap in plastic again and put back in the freezer while you are working on step 3.
Step 3 Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar into a thick froth. Gradually add sugar and beat until it’s very thick and can hold a peak.
Step 4 Remove the plastic wrap. Trowel the mixture onto the insulation tiles. This is your ‘heat shield’.
Step 5 Warm the Bacardi 151 in a small saucepan at low temperature on stovetop or in the microwave. Be careful not to evaporate alcohol. It’s best to rehearse this step.
Step 6 Place the entire Re-entry Vehicle Assembly in a pre-heated 260°C (500°F) oven. Bake for about 8–10min, and remove when the peaks are golden-brown.
Step 7 Turn off the lights in the dining area.
Step 8 Pour liquor over vehicle, ignite and serve.
Tip Plan your movement path. Rehearse service sequence for a successful fiery re-entry and splashdown.
Variant Use American flag toothpicks to simultaneously show patriotism and dissent.