Did that sound like Scarlett O'Hara? LOL! I headed South in my quest to follow in the footsteps of the Daring Bakers. At this time they were still a small group of ladies (try about 15 then versus over 1,000 now!) and they had just gotten the opportunity to share their new logo with the blogging world. Whoohoo! And this particular time they made red velvet cake.
Now, I'm from Mississippi, which is a historical mecca of beautiful antebellum homes, gracious ladies and gentlemen, and wonderful food. A lot of things have changed in the American South (human slavery being one, thank God), but one thing that hasn't changed is the welcoming nature of people all across the region. I mean, Mississippi is known as The Hospitality State - how much more obvious is that?! When we get together for pretty much anything, we eat....and the care put into making food - from a bridal tea to Sunday dinner to football tailgating - is phenomenal. To me, Southern meals exude a real love of life and community.
I have made red velvet cake before. When I was in high school, my friend Brad got me to join the church choir with him. The rest of the choir consisted of adults; I'm sure they were amused by us, as we're both extremely goofy by nature and from my own recollection sat around laughing at everything (when Brad and I got together at ANY time, we laughed - about something, about nothing at all - I'm laughing my butt off as I type this, thinking about the times we just sat around laughing).
When the choir Christmas party rolled around, everyone was instructed to bring something. We decided we'd cook together, and I don't remember how we came about deciding that we'd make red velvet cake but we did (we also made a 2nd dessert but I couldn't for the life of me tell you what it was)!
Anyway, we had a blast, of course, making this cake. At one point, Brad's mom came into the kitchen and said, "Oh, y'all, that looks soooo good. Can I try some?"
"Yes-ma'am," we replied (to not reply with "-ma'am" or "-sir" in the South shows signs of a substandard upbringing), and Mrs. C proceeded to get a spoon and daintily dip it into the batter. "Mmmm, y'all, that's good! I just want one more taste." She turned the spoon around and dipped the handle end into the batter so as not to contaminate it with the end of the spoon she'd already licked.
Brad and I howled with laughter and told his confused mother that we'd been sticking our fingers into the batter and icing repeatedly to taste-test. We were typical teens with no scruples, people! I think we got an exasperated eye-roll and a "Y'all!" Yes, we were nuts, and life was good that way.
The Daring Bakers group chose their own red velvet cake recipes in March 2007, so I went straight to my baker's rack full of cookbooks to find the recipe I would use. When my eyes fell upon Southern Grace, the cookbook that is put out by my alma mater (Mississippi University for Women, also called "The W" - I'm tellin' y'all....I'm Southern!) I knew with no doubt where I'd get the instructions for my cake.
Sure enough, there it was in the dessert section, preceding a recipe for brown velvet cake (really going to have to try that, as it sounds delicious in its own right). I knew that The W wouldn't let me down - she hasn't thus far. Here is a quote from the page of the recipe:
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, softened
Note to self: When chilling in freezer, be sure to turn ice maker OFF....Cream 1 c. butter, 1 c. sugar, and 1 tsp. vanilla...
(That's vanilla powder ^^^)
...in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy.
Add to the cooled milk mixture and beat until smooth and fluffy.
Yield: 12 servings
This is the second cake I've made with an frosting recipe that makes b-a-r-e-l-y enough icing to cover the flipping cake, and it royally ticked me off. The other time, it was with Dorie's Perfect Party Cake and again, it really frustrated me that I was having to skimp and scrape and pray that I had enough!! I was just about to whip up another half-batch, but I realized that if I scraped the frosting from the beater then I should be OK. Still, next time I'll make 1 1/2 times the original recipe; I don't want to have to worry where the heck the icing's coming from when I'm trying to make my cake pretty! I mean, Fiddle Dee Dee, y'all! ;> I guess I'll just have to resign myself to the fact that this is a personal issue and I just like lots of icing.
Little wagon and swingset in the background. :)
Another thing I wished I'd done differently was to not bake the cakes quite as long as I did. I cooked them for 25 minutes, which was within the recipe's time frame, but I wish I'd checked them at 20 minutes and pulled them out then so that they'd have been moister. Not that the cakes were dry, but it's borderline for me as to the moistness and softness of the cake.
But two things:
- Red velvet cake, by nature, is just a denser cake. Period. So, to an extent it's just going to be that way. Just deal with it and grab a glass of cold milk.
And gripes about the frosting aside, I have to say that it was really good! I was surprised that it wasn't a cream cheese frosting, which seems to be the traditional frosting of choice for Red Velvet Cake in the South. I'd never made icing with a milk/flour mixture so I was interested to see how it would turn out - and it ended up a light fluffy buttercream consistency that was kinda addictive.
Also, 2 oz. of red food coloring doesn't sound like much, until one goes to the store and finds out that 2 oz. of food coloring comes in a small brown glass bottle - NOT those little squeezy ones with the colored tops that come in the box with blue, yellow, and green! No wonder these cakes are so flippin' red.
Although we got the 4th off of work for the Independence Day holiday, we had guests over on the 5th and Hubby cooked out; I made baked beans and cole slaw and the cake. Our friends were very complimentary of the cake, including their 3-year-old, who told me, "Aunt Amy, your cake is good!"
A slice of cake out on the deck
Good food, good friends, and compliments from preschoolers. Can't get any better than that.