Saturday, December 12, 2009

Red Velvet year ...

Traditionally, and by "traditionally" I mean three years in a row, I've made Chuck a birthday treat in the spongy styling of Angel Food Cake. It started as a cutesy contrived little project in 2006 -- Angel Food Cupcakes -- a ruse to show my new boyfriend that contrary to my predilection for Super Potato Oles, I could in fact wrangle an oven mitt AND use a tube of green frosting as a writing utensil.

That went over well. Turned out his mom used to make him Angel Food Cake, which Chuck referred to as "Football Cake." Nothing says "Happy Birthday" like reminding a dude's tongue of when it was 6.

So I made this cake again the next year. And the next.

This year Chuck had a request. He wanted to buck tradition: How about a Red Velvet Cake?

I've never had Red Velvet Cake. In fact, I've only heard of Red Velvet Cake in recent years of scouring food blogs. If I had to guess, I would have assumed it was a kin of Rum Bundt Cake. I believed it was saturated in something flammable, giving it a velvety texture. Like licking an Elvis wall hanging, one that had been doused in the king's actual sweat.

I found a recipe online for something called Waldorf Astoria Red Velvet Cake. A brand-name cake. Sort of like using Prada pans, and Jimmy Choo eggs. This recipe has an associated urban legend: Customer seeks recipe for delicious cake, it costs $1,000. You've certainly heard a similar story about some famous chocolate chip cookies. The expensive recipe legend is the hook-hand, lover's lane, story of baking.

So I made it. I forgot a crucial ingredient, per usual, but the three mini cakes turned out red, so I kept going with my project. The frosting was a mix of butter, sugar, and vanilla. Not at all the cream cheese frosting Chuck envisioned his cake slathered in, but I accidentally stumbled on the recipe for hot buttered rum. Not a bad mistake.

This cake was a disaster. It was dry. I bit into it, and a puff of flour from an un-blended pocket burst in my mouth like I'd detonated a smoke bomb. Sure, we tugged at it a bit. Fake ate it through fake smiles.

Not to mention that it looked like a cartoonish drawing of the Hamburglar.

Eventually, I heaved the screw up into the garbage can. Thud.

Last night I tried again with a new recipe. Something with the word "Southern" right in the title, and the call for an entire pound of cream cheese for the frosting. I made this one while Chuck was at work, double-checking the ingredients, mixing for longer than the recommended mixing time. By the time I finished making the frosting, I'd seen the light: Ah. This is Red Velvet Cake.

Of course, I spread frosting like a palsied finger painter, so it's still an ugly cake.

One of the best things about Chuck is that, after a bit of hinting and deep sighs, he gave me permission to have a piece before he even got home from work. Unfortunately, I couldn't get myself to do it. That seemed a little rude.


Sproactually said...

"cartoonish drawing of the Hamburglar"

That was good for about 45 seconds Laughing.

I tried that gouda mac and cheese, I don't think 4oz's was enough cheese, but good comfy food.

christina said...

@spro -- I definitely support adding more than four ounces of cheese to any dish. You should see the Beer Cheese Soup I made this week. What it lacked in cheese, it made up for in butter.

Whiskeymarie said...

If you ever do it again, I have a perfect Red Velvet cake recipe. Perfect.

I've had the Waldorf-Astoria cake. Meh. You were right to heave it into the can.

And I love that you cook more than I do lately. My most ambitious effort lately has been to make soup. Yay. Me.

Mach1 said...

Why does Chuck call Angel Food Cake "Football Cake"? Is that just a funny Chuckerstein Family tradition?

christina said...

@fscotty -- soft. spongy. like a nerf football? perhaps you are too young. Did they have nerf when you were young?

Mach1 said...

Oh, they had Nerf. Whether I actually ever played with a Nerf is an entirely different story.

christina said...

@Mach1 --
I like to think that you got a concussion the one time you tried to play with a Nerf football.