Saturday, February 13, 2010

Red Velvet Cake and Red Velvet Cake and . . . well you get the point

So, my family is obsessed with red velvet cake. They can't get enough of it. Consequently, when I go home for the holidays, they request that I make it again, and again, and again. I was literally baking one every week. Thank goodness it starts with a cake mix, although the frosting must always be made from scratch. We wouldn't have it any other way. All in all, it's very simple to make.

Unfortunately, being the perfectionist that I am, I am compelled to complicate things. It is not enough to simply bake the cake, slap on some frosting, and eat it. Noooooo, not in my world. In the first place, the cake layers, when baked, need to be as level as possible - NO bump, I repeat no huge mountain rising in the middle of my cakes, no siree. That of course is difficult in and of itself. But, after three tries, I finally succeeded. Third time's the charm, right? The trick is baking the cake at a lower temperature to give the sides time to catch up to the middle - I set my oven at 325F.

Secondly, the cakes have to be decorated. Each one has to be different, and the frosting has to be absolutely smooth, with no red crumbs showing. Yes, I know. You're probably thinking, why go through so much extra effort. Let's just say that the creative side of me takes over my logical, reasonable side (like a baking Jekyll/Hide).

Frosting the cake was enough to try my patience, but a crumb coat with chilling time afterwards took care of that problem. I didn't have my offset spatula with me, so instead, I was using a large serrated bread knife. It's not perfect, but it'll do. Lastly, I lack pretty much all the proper tools created for facilitating true cake artistry. If I was a rich man (*ahem* woman) . . . oh just imagine - I'd have the right size icing tips and a cake turntable and icing colors. Oh well, one can dream. But, regardless, I think I managed to do a pretty good job. You can judge for yourself.

Here's Cake #1:

All the little brown checks were made with grated chocolate chips.

Cake #2:

And Cake #3:

Cream Cheese Frosting:

16 oz. cream cheese
10 Tbsp. butter
2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla (optional)

Beat the cream cheese with the butter until well blended. Add the powdered sugar and whip on high speed. Fold in the vanilla.

(And yes, I learned the hard way that you need to use butter NOT margarine for the frosting. It just won't set up right if you use anything else. Oh well, what's a few extra calories on an already decadent and delicious cake? Just live in the moment and enjoy it.)

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