It’s befitting that my first recipe post is a cake made to celebrate a new beginning. I made this cake to celebrate the engagement of my wonderful roommate and the guy who’s been nesting on our couch for the past year ;) Joking aside, however, it’s somewhat amazing to me that two people are able to find each other amidst the chaos of surrounding life; to sift through the noise of relationships, both meaningful and superficial, and decide that this is the person with whom we want to share the rest of our lives. It’s particularly amazing because I feel like many people, myself included, have a tendency to approach life with extreme caution. Whether we would rather assume a priori that we didn’t receive that fellowship to which we applied or preempt our test-taking with long testaments to the scant amount of time we spent studying, we tend to set ourselves up to expect failure. I do this all the time with the thinking that, to some extent, to approach life this way is to avoid disappointment (because what is more disappointing than trying your best but still failing?). But love, much like baking, is one of those areas in life where this tactic fails miserably; rather, both should be approached with abandon or not at all, because only then will you have the courage to serve your pastries under the scrutiny of others, and maybe, just maybe, can you hope to have a relationship as beautiful as P+D’s :) Congratulations to you both!
Red Velvet Cake (adapted from Pinch My Salt):
2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour*
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder (unsweetened)
2 oz. red food coloring I used 1 oz. red food coloring and it was fine
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature sub w/ 1cup 2% milk +1 tbsp vinegar; sit 5 mins
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda
*The poor man’s cake flour is 1 cup of all purpose flour w/ 1 tbsp cornstarch substituted, then sifted at least 5 times; in this case, I used 2.5 cups of all purpose flour and 2.5tbp cornstarch.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. I used 2 9″ springform pans because a) I had them and 2) it made getting the cakes out much easier. In retrospect, I would have liked to use smaller pans because I thought the cakes were too thin.
2. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside. In a small bowl, mix food coloring and cocoa powder to form a thin paste without lumps; set aside. Because I only used 1 oz of red food coloring, I added ~1tbsp water to the mix so it wasn’t as thick.
3. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla and the red cocoa paste, scraping down the bowl with a spatula as you go. Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beat well, then beat in half of the buttermilk. Beat in another third of flour mixture, then second half of buttermilk. End with the last third of the flour mixture, beat until well combined, making sure to scrape down the bowl with a spatula.
4. In a small bowl, mix vinegar and baking soda. Add it to the cake batter and stir well to combine. Working quickly, divide batter evenly between the cake pans and place them in a preheated 350 degree oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Check early, cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
5. Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes. I let mine sit overnight because I had class to go to …
Cream cheese frosting (adapted from CakeCentral):
*Disclaimer – I’m notorious for NEVER following frosting recipes; this one is no exception; other than general ingredients, I barely followed the recipe … I had intended for the frosting to crust so I could make the cake smoother and more polished, but sadly, I ran out of confectioner’s sugar, so it became a runnier but arguably more delicious and cream cheesy frosting
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
2 8oz packages cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 pounds sifted confectioner’s sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Cream butter, shortening, cream cheese and vanilla.
2. Gradually add confectioner’s sugar and salt. I ended up using roughly 1.5lbs of confectioner’s sugar (which is approximately 2/3 of the 2lb domino’s bag that’s common in the supermarket), which made for a runnier frosting. I coated my cake with a thin layer, refrigerated it for an hour, then went back and added a thicker layer on top.
Wilton’s chocolate icing + star tip (yes, I used store-bought icing; I have to study sometimes, you know!!)
Lindt assorted chocolate balls
1. Decorate like you see above.
Overall consensus: not the best cake I could have made, but I hope it was good enough for all those who had a slice :) I think the edges were too hard and it wasn’t as moist as I wanted it to be. Maybe part of it was my fault because of the large pans … oh well, you live and you learn! As always, I encourage comments and suggestions for improvement! Stay tuned for other baking adventures!