Sunday, April 6, 2008
A Cake, A Wingspan, & Seven Blankets
Fine, I give up - for now. The clock is ticking, I already promised to post this recipe before the weekend timed out - and I really don't want to let anyone down, in case there is an actual reader out there. This darling fluffette of a cake was going to act as the foyer to the love story between me and Tony. But, as I've already indicated - I have family in the house - I need to plan, regress, feel rushed, exaggerate, be dramatic. This is no time to wax poetic.
So, while I will post this recipe (which, by the way, has been in my family for decades - though I do know there are similar recipes, I've never quite tasted one as divinely and utterly ridiculous) I'm not in the right frame of mind to post the love story as I'd intended. And frankly, you're probably insanely grateful. I'm sure the gratitude Tony feels, as he's reading this along with you, far surpasses yours - since I never really asked in the first place if he'd mind my disclosing the story, along with the fact that we once talked on phone for 6 hours straight - a fact which I know he really hoped his male friends would never uncover. Huh? I didn't hear anything.
At any rate, if there was a headline for our love story - it really would be: A Cake, A Wingspan, 7 Blankets and A 6-Hour Chat* (*note: even though we lived 7 miles apart). That headline was our recipe, therein lies our love story. Truly, one night - a few years ago - when we shared Red Velvet for the first time - that was the night we somehow knew there was more in store for us than just buddies, as much fun as that was proving. Gag if you want to. You've been there, you know you were. And you know that we know.
That's the short version - I know this doesn't explain the whole Wingspan (huh?) and the 7-Blankets (da?) - but you still get the picture -- the cake is still a player and I threw Tony to the wolves just as a bonus, so I feel I've done my share. SO, this current cake lasted about 3 days in our 2-person house; thank the universe we have a treadmill and that actually I'm using it. Upon our first piece, witness the conversation:
Ann: "This is ridiculous"
Tony: "Oh my god"
Ann: "This cake should be called The Utterly Ridiculous Cake"
Tony: "Oh my god"
Ann: "This is the kind of cake that could change your life"
Tony: "If we weren't already married, I'd be down on one knee...after I finished my cake."
Both: "Oh my god"
We had it for dinner 3 nights straight - and basically had the same conversation, as outlined above, 3 nights going. We both burned a lot of brain cells in our early 20s.
Red Velvet Cake (aka Utterly Ridiculous Cake)
Now, we need to chat a bit about this little beauty. This is a moist cake, with a fantastic "mouth-feel". For some reason, men seem particularly fond of this cake - perhaps because it is known for not being cloyingly sweet. I find its flavor almost dulcet - its sweetness almost just out of reach - just enough, never too much, never over the top - yet, almost achingly satisfying, perhaps because we can't articulate why. There are many "imitation" Red Velvet/Waldorf Cakes out there - it makes me a little batty, thinking of all those fakes out there luring folks in with their buttercream this and their cream cheese that - I beg thee, please try the real thing, just once. The frosting may be a tad high maintenance, but is *so* worth it - and, if you *did* covet Red Velvet as a kid, but often wonder why it just doesn't taste the same as way-back-when...this is your recipe, from way back when. Better print this quick, because my family is probably going to rub me out (and this blog) after publicizing this nugget.
3 tsp. cocoa (not dutch), heaping
1.5 oz. red food coloring (about 3 tbs.)
1/2 c. shortening
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs (room temperature)
1 tbs. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. flour (all-purpose)
1 c. buttermilk (room temp., if possible)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tbs. vinegar, white
Frosting (If you DON'T want to frost the sides of this cake, as some Red Velvet eaters prefer, then cut this recipe in half....but really, why would you ever do that, if sane?)
2/3 c. flour, all purpose
2 c. milk
1 c. shortening
1 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
2 c. sugar
2 tbs. vanilla
1 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, placing baking position to middle rack. This recipe can be used for (2) 9-inch or 8-inch pans, or 24 cupcakes; butter and flour inside of pans, then line bottom of pans with parchment paper - or - line cupcake tins with liners.
Batter: In small bowl, combine cocoa and food coloring - making a runny paste, set aside. Using hand-held mixer, combine shortening and sugar, cream until combined; then add eggs 1 at a time - beat until combined and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add red paste, beat until completely incorporated. Add vanilla and salt, beat until incorporated. Add 1 cup flour, beat just until combined; add all of the buttermilk, beat until combined; add remaining cup of flour, beat just until combined. Do NOT overmix. Sprinkle the baking soda over the top of the batter; pour the vinegar over the top of the batter. Gently fold these last 2 ingredients in by hand - do NOT beat. Pour batter into pans or cupcake tins. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until tester that is inserted into middle of cakes comes out clean; cupcakes should bake for 18-20 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Place cakes on cooling rack to cool, then remove from pans. Frost once completely cooled.
Frosting: Prepare a cooling bath. Fill a sink or large, wide container/pan with ice water; have a medium bowl ready to cool the flour mixture. In medium saucepan, over medium heat (4-5) - add milk and flour, stirring occasionally at first and then almost constantly as the mixture begins to warm and thicken. Attentive stirring later in the cooking process will prevent unbreakable "lumps" from forming while the flour and milk begin to combine. Mixture will continue to thicken, bring the consistency just past pudding stage, where it begins to get a bit gummy. Take the mixture off the heat and pour into the waiting medium bowl. Stir vigorously and place bottom of bowl into cooling bath to speed cooling, stirring every few minutes to avoid big lumps, until mixture cools.
In large bowl, beat shortening and butter until creamy. Add sugar and beat until incorporated and fluffy. Add vanilla and salt, beat until completely incorporated. When cooled, add the flour mixture and beat, at high speed, until completely incorporated - for 5 minutes. When cake has completely cooled, frost cake to your heart's desire!
Do you think I could've plowed any more crap into that middle layer? Insanity, I tell you.
This is what dinner looks like in my dreams - and, well, last week. Mouthgasm.