I made my first cake/plug* out of miscellaneous pipe tobacco this past week. I made a DIY “noodle” press with:
- 3″ diameter PVC pipe, 5″ long
- 6″ C-clamp
- 2 hockey pucks
- Parchment paper
The parchment paper-covered pucks slide perfectly into the PVC pipe. With 4 ounces of a random pipe tobacco blend in between, I tightened the C-clamp. I had trouble keeping the clamp surfaces and pucks perpendicular, so the cake came out lopsided. I have an idea to try next time to prevent that.
For the actual tobacco, I used:
- Lane HGL (about 2 ounces)
- Hearth & Home’s Louisiana Red (about 1 1/4 ounce)
- Country Squire’s Shepherd’s Pie (about 1/2 ounce)
- Just For Him’s Whiskey Gravy Biscuit (about 1/4 ounce)
- A splash of Buffalo Trace bourbon in the storage jar, and a couple drops on the cake after I cut it in two
Why do this?
- It reduces the number of jars on your shelf. Who doesn’t want to save space?
- It looks cool. Plus, it feels more manly to cut tobacco from a cake/plug than to pack loose bulk-blended pipe tobacco.
- It creates a unique blend. You’re the only person in the world who has that one-of-a-kind blended cake.
- The pressure can enhance the combination of flavors. I’ll see what difference four days in a press makes when I smoke this.
Some quick Q&As:
Q: How long did you press it?
A: Four days. More is probably better until it gets too dry or to the point of diminishing returns.
Q: Why did you use those particular tobaccos?
A: I had too much, plus I’m pretty settled on the blends I smoke. The ones I used for the cake don’t make it into my pipes much anymore.
Q: So do you recommend not buying those tobaccos? Are they poor smokes by themselves?
A: No! I do recommend buying them. They’re great blends, I just prefer others more. Since taste is so subjective, I think it’s wise to try many blends to find what you love and maximize enjoyment.
It smells about as incredible as you can imagine! I would love to find a candle that smells precisely like this cake. I just hope the retrohale and room note are similar to the tin note.
I’m going to let it age for a few weeks/months before packing a bowl. God bless and happy puffs!
*Cakes are usually called “crumble cakes” which are meant to be pulled apart and rubbed between the fingers into smaller pieces before packing in the bowl. Plugs are pressed more tightly, and the tobacco must be sliced off in strips before preparing them to pack. What I made is kind of in-between; the sides are noticeably more loose than the center (probably from drying). It likely needed more time in the press and needed to be more moist. I’ll dress with bourbon before blending my tobaccos next time.