Introducing...The Daring Bakers!

And this month's baking challenge is....
RED VELVET CAKE!
W-wait...let's rewind that a bit. Firstly, just who are the Daring Bakers? Well, for any frequenter of food blogs (see list of blogs on left if you are in any doubt of who they/you are), you will be familiar with a baking event that has been taking place for the last few months. Last month it was the Chocolate Intensity Cake (and if a post ever put pounds and ounces on by viewing alone, it was this one) and prior to that, some amazing Croissants. Jenny, Mary, Ivonne, Peabody, Brilynn, Hester, Lisa, Tanna, Helene and Veronica have all been wowing us with their delicious write-ups and accompanying photos.
Last month, along with Jen, Elle, Valentina, Mary and Morven, I was lucky enough to be asked to join the baking circle, which has since been officially named the Daring Bakers. This is somewhat of a dubious honour, not for me but for the other members, as I am not a hugely adept or experienced baker but I am at least enthusiastic!
I was excited about this months recipe: Red Velvet Cake. It was a retro classic that I had read about in many of my old 1950s cookbooks and I have always marvelled at the use of a whole bottle of red food dye. I'm not entirely sure why they would have dyed a cake blood red in the 50s, I suppose it was a yin/yang type deal: pure white angel food cake, blood red devils food cake (because Red Velvet Cake is basically Devils Food Cake with the dye added). The flavour is unfortunately less devilish. I would have preferred something much more chocolately but the redness was novelty enough for me.
Paul and I are not 'cake' people. You will note from our blog that we don't make a huge amount of desserts, purely because there is just the two of us and whilst I am not one for keeping leftovers, I do feel slightly peeved if I have to throw something away that I spent time baking.
This was a cake of many first for me:
1) I have never made a three layer cake
2) I never iced a cake all over (can you tell???!)
3) I have never used food dye other than to paint murals on my wall when I was a kid.
I had planned on making the sponges Tuesday and icing them Wednesday (I had thought the final posting was due on Thursday - I was out by 4 days) but neither of us could wait, so in between adverts during Dawsons Creek reruns, I whisked up the delicious icing (which is completely healthy: butter, cream cheese and icing sugar) and slathered it all over my glowingly red cakes.
A note about the food dye: I used food paste which is industrial strength colouring. I estimated a heaping teaspoon which was exactly the right amount, although the batter and ensuing cakes look a bit startling at first to the untrained eye. Paul said the baked cakes resembled tins filled with tomato paste. And he wasn't wrong.
The cakes didn't rise as much as I had thought they would, and they felt very heavy and impermeable. Whilst impermeability is a good property if you are making, say for example, rubber or pottery, in a cake it is not so desirable.
Still, I persevered on and and set to making the icing. Believe me, for those three ingredients, this is some delicious icing. We ate most of it straight from the bowl. I love cream cheese at the best of times, sweet or savoury and I would definitely use this again, perhaps on a Carrot Cake.
So, I iced the cake, which as you can see was quite disastrous. Not because the icing was too runny but because my layers were all slightly askew and I didn't think to trim them. My fault entirely. I put it in the fridge to set up and carried the bowl downstairs to lick the icing out of whilst wondering whether Dawson really would get it together with Joey at last.
The next day, I extracted the cake from the fridge and set to photographing it. The icing job wasn't perfect, it looked a bit drippy but I quite liked the final effect and, whilst the daffodil was one step too far (I would have preferred red rose petals - this cake also goes under the name of American Beauty), I thought it had a rustic charm.
The real disappointment came when I cut the cake to photograph its internal gubbins. Yes, the red was still as vibrant as ever but the texture was not as light and fluffy as I felt it should have been. It was dense and like an overcooked brownie (or reddy). Paul refused to even feed it to his work colleagues so I knew it wasn't good. We crumbled the rest of it up and fed it to the wild birds, who are no doubt sharing the love by depositing bright red splats on various cars in the neighbourhood...
Click on the aforementioned links to check out everyone else's cakes, most of which should also be posted today.
Hopefully this won't guarantee me a fastrack to expulsion from the Daring Bakers as I am eagerly awaiting the challenge for April. Just so long as there is no food colouring involved this time...

P.S. Big thanks must go to Ximena over at Lobstersquad for designing the great DB logo. She has done a fantastic job! By the way, whilst you at it, go and check out her great blog!

39 comments:

Saffron said...

It's the first time I see a red cake!!! Nice to see and good to eat!!
Have a nice week!

Mary said...

Sorry your cake didn't turn out as well as you and Paul hoped. But it looks very pretty especially w/ the daffodil.

Kelly-Jane said...

I have always wanted to try red velvet cake!

Your cake looks yummy, it's a shame it didn't turn out quite how you would have liked. The raw cake mix is such a bright red colour!

KJxx

Lydia said...

Yep, that is very red! I remember red velvet cakes sold in bakeries when I was growing up. They were quite the novelty!

Helene said...

Mine turned out really red too. Your cake has a lot of charm, sometimes straight and even is boring. Your cake screams "eat me". Glad you joined our group!

Ulrike said...

A red cake? I've tried it years ago. Nobody would try it. And I am only a bread baker, not a cake baker. Your cake completly iced looks great with the daffodil!

Quellia said...

Seems I wasn't the only one disappointed in this cake - sorry to hear you and Paul did not enjoy it!
And I think your icing job was just fine - gives it a rustic, homemade appeal. A friend of mine once told me that cakes that are lopsided are better as they were made with love!

valentinA said...

Oh dear, this looks too irresistible.. I'm impressed! Wish I could have a bite of that red velvet cake, well done!

Steven said...

I love the name of the baking circle! I can imagine lots of red lips and tongues after eating this cake. Good on you for trying something different! :)

Veron said...

Freya - you did a phenomenal job girl. Like you I have never used food coloring , or made 3 or 2 layer cake and never iced one in my life except the glaze I did for the chocolate cake. That's why I love this group we are in , we are dared to bake out of our comfort zone :).

Homesick Texan said...

Sorry your recipe didn't turn out the way you like it. Some people use beets instead of red food dye to get the desired color. It makes for a moister (as well as healthier) cake.

Brilynn said...

My cake was light and fluffy, just tasteless... the icing was really the star of the show.

Ivonne said...

Freya,

First of all I wanted to say welcome again to the group! And believe me, you would never be expelled from the Daring Bakers especially since you deserve an A for your effort. While I'm sorry the end result wasn't exactly what you wanted, I still think you deserve kudos for trying something new!

Welcome to the club!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Your cake looks like a genuine real deal of a Red Velvet Cake - therefore I deem it a success!
You and Paul just don't happen to like Red Velvet Cake- I think you're allowed.
Can't imagine anytrack to expulsion, So glad you've joined up.

Cheryl said...

I think it looks great. I love that we can all share our successes, but more important we can share even the lows too. I think we each learn something every time we make something new.

Lis said...

There will be no talk of expulsion, dear lady!! You are officially stuck with us now whether you like it or not. *grin*

hey.. I like a cake with curves. hehee And I love the color you got.. quite beautiful and vibrant!

Welcome to the club! Here's looking to next month *cheers*

xoxox

Morven said...

Your cake looks rather impressive even if you don't think so. Your comment about the birds sharing the love gave me a big chuckle.

Peabody said...

Good job on your first ever 3 layer cake!!!

Canadian Baker said...

I think you did a very good job icing your first layer cake. Looks great!

Scott at Real Epicurean said...

Yours manages to successfully hide the "redness" inside, meaning whoever is lucky enough to get some is in for a nice suprise...

Sig said...

Lol, that is some red there... too bad it didn't turn out as well as you expected. I can just imagine you guys with red tongues, and the part about the birds depositing red splats on cars had be in splits :D

mooncrazy said...

At least you tried that's half the battle. I'm imagining the birds in your neighborhood, what a hoot.

I do need a Freya Rosetta Stone, "internal gubbing?"

Mine wasn't much better, lots of work. Red Velvet Cake

sher said...

I think your cake looks delicious! Seriously. Boy, if I had been there, I would take it off your hands and eat it all up. I MIGHT share with the birds. Maybe. :)

Kristen said...

Your cake looks so light and good! I love the flower accent on the top. Very pretty!

Elle said...

No talk of leaving now. Half the fun is trying something new. I love the daffodil on the top and applaud that you made three layers and did a great job with the icing. The red part was a success, and I love the image of the birds decorating things with red splats. lol.

Passionate Eater said...

I think it looks great. Even though Paul wouldn't give it to his co-workers, I'd take a taste! You two did the best you could do with the recipe, so I blame the faulty instructions and not the chefs!

breadchick said...

I think your flower decorations were some of the prettiest of our group! And don't worry about Paul not wanting to take it to his co-workers. MBH said the same thing when he saw the pictures and muttered something about the engineers at work not being particular. Wonderful job!

Margaret said...

I first saw this cake over on Brilynn's site, prior to that I had never heard of Red Velvet Cake. Although you felt slightly disappointed, it does look delicious.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Freya, love the flower on top! Wonderful and so classy!

tigerfish said...

The cake is very red! Should be a good wedding cake or for special events. Did I just see a thumb tack on that slice of cake ?;p

Gattina said...

I always wonder, some cakes maybe just sound (by naming) than their taste. Amercian Beauty is a great name!

Kathryn said...

Wow, visually spectacular! I've never tried a red cake. I sense I wouldn't be keen. The icing, though, I could gobble up on its own! Mmm. I like the daffodil; I think it looks great.

Kathryn x

Lucy said...

I love that your local wildlife is distributing little red droppings everywhere.

Never been too sure about red food colouring. Your cake, however, looks deeply beautiful!

Shaun said...

Freya, love - I imagine that a brownie-like cake would be sheer heaven...or am I just a cake pig? As you know, I have an insatiable need for something sweet about 3pm every day, so I would have gladly had some of your Red Velvet Cake. I love the photo of the slice of cake, the contrasting deep, vibrant red with the purity of the sweet and creamy white icing (the which Ina Garten herself often uses, or a variant thereof). You did a great job and have inspired me to be a little more ambitious with baking.

annauk said...

you are so brave making red velvet cake .
The only one I've ever tried was one Exiledcal sent over from the USA, I just couldn't get used to the sight of RED cake.....
Yours looks beautiful though!

kellypea said...

Fabulous website. Enjoyed the piece about the birds' splat and will look forward to trying the recipes!

Paprika said...

I tried making this cake a couple of years ago. It was disastrous! I still haven't figured it out. So now whenever I am in London, I visit Hummingbird Bakery in Notting Hill for a slice of overpriced red cake! Yums....

rv said...

Hi Freya and Paul :)

Loved your blog , infact the curry you prepared looks mouth watering. and I liked this cake, very pretty cake :) ....never seen one like this before :) ....You are doing a very good job, and Thanks a lot for visiting my blog too! Adding you to my list of favorites.

Da' Diva said...

I'd love to be a Daring Baker but I don't know where to go to sign up? Do I have to be invited? Is there a main website somewhere?

Help!

http://reciperush.thedomesticdiva.org

BTW, so envious of your red velvet cake....I want to make one now!