This week is a free bake: Heavenly Cake Bakers got to pick a cake already baked (including the hundreds Marie baked before the group was set up). I asked Cookie what her vote would be, since she and her husband are responsible for taking at least half of the cake away from me. She initially chose the Whipped Cream Cake, again, but I reminded her it should be a cake I haven't baked yet. So she went with the Rose Red Velvet Cake, but requested her favorite crusty frosting. I told her I'd make cupcakes, so she could frost hers with the crispy stuff and her husband and I could have the proper (and tastier) cream cheese.
February 15, 2009
Name of Cake: Better Living Through Chemistry
Constituents: rose red velvet cupcakes with Cookie's crusty frosting, or ECL's cream cheese frosting.
Although Rose gives instructions on how to use beets to dye the cake red, and despite the many urgings to try a beet-red cake, I went with the tried and true chemical red food dye. That stuff scares me, but it does make a cake red.
Nobody is really sure where the crazy idea to dump a while bottle of food coloring into a mild chocolate cake came from, but I think it had something to do with non-alkalized cocoa powder. When this kind of cocoa powder hangs out in an acidic batter, the resulting cake had a reddish tone to it. I think the red velvet cake is one of those things that has departed so far from its origins that no one remembers the history anymore. The stuff of legends, it seems.
The fact that no one remembers why it came to be could explain why red velvet cake recipes these days up the acid quotient with white vinegar and buttermilk, but then ruin it all with baking soda which functions to neutralize acidity. I always wondered about that. Rose did more than wonder about it; she re-tooled the recipe to get rid of both the vinegar and the baking soda.
Again, I have to give butter cakes a big hug hello. Mixing up this cake was easy-peasy. This recipe made 18 cupcakes with the cups filled half full. Next time I'd fill the cups 2/3 and get fewer cupcakes but with a nice little dome.
Rose's red velvet cake calls for only egg whites; while I was digging around in the freezer looking for my stash, I discovered a tub of Cookie's crusty frosting from 2007. Time to use it! Hooray!
Instead of making Rose's Dreamy Creamy White Chocolate Frosting, I went with a basic cream cheese frosting.
The cupcakes were light, tender, and moist with a delicate crumb. However, there was no light chocolate flavor, in fact there wasn't much flavor at all. Very sad. In her notes, Rose suggests modifying the recipe to add 1/4 cup of cocoa and to decrease the flour similarly. I wish I had done that; it would have been interesting to taste what a whole 1/4 of cocoa powder would do to a red velvet cake. The recipe I've used in the past called for 2 heaping tablespoons, and that gave the cupcakes a light chocolate flavor. Unfortunately, these were just little springy vehicles for the frosting.
Ah well. Marie baked this cake last July, please go and read her hilarious post about her red velvet cake.
I don't know about you all, but I have been glued to the Olympic coverage all week. I keep vancouver2010.com open to the live results page, I've got the tv on NBC, and I'm watching the curling and hockey matches on nbcolympics.com. I am always a sucker for the Olympics, but these have special significance for me, because as this post publishes Monday morning, I'll be in Vancouver for the Olympics! I'll be back home Wednesday night, so I'll look forward to your comments and posts then. Go USA!