Inmates in jail celebrate birthdays the same way anyone else does: by eating cake.
But without access to an oven, cooking supplies, or even common ingredients like eggs, butter and milk, inmates need to get creative.
At Clark County Jail in Jeffersonville, Indiana, inmates concoct a treat they call “jail cake,” according to one of the participants on the A&E documentary series “60 Days In.”
Barbra, who] spent two months as an undercover inmate for the show, said jail cake was only eaten on special occasions.
“This was a cake that was only made if it was someone’s birthday or if someone was getting called for ‘bed and baggage,’ meaning they were going home,” she told Business Insider.
Equipped with only a microwave and select ingredients from the jail’s commissary — an in-house store where inmates can buy food, toiletries, and other items — inmates learned to whip up a surprisingly tasty treat.
“I actually liked jail cake so much that I made it for my husband’s birthday cake when I got home from jail. I wanted him to feel like he was part of the process in some way,” Barbra said.
Here’s Barbra’s recipe for jail cake. All items were purchased from the jail commissary:
- 1 whole package of peanut butter cookies
- 1 whole pack of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
- 1 whole Hershey bar
- 1 scoop of peanut butter
- 2 scoops of cappuccino mix
1. Separate the peanut butter cookies and scoop out all of the peanut butter filling into a separate bowl.
2. Crush the peanut butter cookies down into a fine powder in a bowl. If you want to make it the jail way, Barbra and other inmates would take a plastic cup and push the bottom of it down into the cookies until they were all crushed up.
3. Add a little bit of water to the crushed cookies and stir until it forms a ball of dough. Using the leftover cookie tray package from the peanut butter cookies, press the dough into the bottom of the cookie tray until it forms an even layer.
4. Break up the Reese’s cups into the bowl of peanut butter cookie filling. Add in the 2 scoops of cappuccino mix. Add in a little bit of water. Stir the mixture together and microwave for increments of 15 seconds, until it’s completely melted and about the consistency of melted caramel.
5. Microwave a cup full of water until it’s very hot. Leave the Hershey bar in the wrapper and place it in the hot cup of water. This will melt down the chocolate inside the wrapper.
6. Start layering the cake into the cookie tray. It goes like this: a layer of dough, a layer of peanut butter filling, a layer of dough, a layer of peanut butter filling.
7. When the cake is completely layered, take the melted Hershey bar out of the cup of water and tear a small corner form the wrapper. Squeeze the melted chocolate out and drizzle it all over the cake.
8. Put 1 scoop of peanut butter in a bowl and melt it until it is runny. Drizzle it all over the cake.
9. Refrigerate the cake for about 2 hours. Or if you want to do it jail-style, place it on a bowl full of ice for two hours.
Plenty of alternative recipes for jail-friendly cake are available on YouTube. One user suggests a different set of processed snacks, namely Snickers bars, M&Ms, and honey buns. Another user recommends using a small amount of mayonnaise as a binding agent for the smashed cookie crumbs:
While jail cake might sound delicious, jails don’t exactly serve gourmet. With a budget of $1 for each inmate’s meal, some of what Barbra and the other participants ate barely resembled food. They also endured other harrowing experiences, like having to navigate a strict social hierarchy just to use the bathroom.
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