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!
And this month's baking challenge is....