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Saturday, April 3, 2010

Blue Velvet Aint Got Nothin' on You: Recipe

A few years ago, I discovered red velvet cake. Many people I knew had "discovered" it from the movie Steel Magnolias - but I barely recall that movie and certainly never heard it mentioned. But somewhere along the way I came across this cake - it's very rich, red, interior and the slight hint of chocolate called to me, despite the fact that I would not consider myself a chocoholic. But this cake - this complex cake - had a wonderful flavor so I was determined to find a recipe and make this cake my way (how else?).

After some time, I found a terrific recipe that I use above all others. It yields the richest red and the best quiet-cocoa flavor. Normally I skip the cream cheese frosting and frost, instead, with buttercream. But this time I wanted something different for the exterior. I flirted with a chocolate buttercream but to be honest, this cake requires a sharp color contrast so white frosting is much better. However, I'm serving this cake alongside an Old Fashioned Coconut Cake which already has vanilla buttercream frosting; so, I opted to keep the white but change to a "Fluffy White Boiled Icing." It tastes like...FLUFF! was so unreal that I think the whole family could have consumed the entire bowl of frosting. So the color was exactly what I wanted and the flavors complement each another.

*** Note of seriousness: Do yourself a BIG favor and only serve this frosted cake the day you make and frost it. Don't leave it overnight before serving it. I didn't show you what it looked like the next day but let's just say that the photo above makes the served-product look like false advertising! Seriously: the protiens in the meringue break-down with any sense of element: heat, cold, whatever! What I served looked like The Blob. But boy was it good!
Red Velvet Cake
by Patricia Mitchell

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. Cocoa
2 1-oz. bottles of red food coloring
1/2 cup crisco
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour 2 9-inch cake pans.

Combine the flour and the salt and set aside.

Put the cocoa in a small glass bowl and add the food coloring in gradually, stirring till smooth. Set aside.

Cream together the shortening and sugar - beating about 4-5 minutes at medium speed until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for at least 1 minute before adding the next one.

At low speed, add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk and vanilla, scraping down as necessary. Next add the cocoa mixture until color is uniform but do not overbeat! In a small bowl, mix the vinegar and the baking soda (it will foam up...) and then add it to the cake batter but do not mix it - fold it in.

Pour the mixture evenly between the prepared pans and bake about 30-35 minutes or until the tester comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before turning out - then cool completely before icing.

Fluffy White Boiled Icing
3 Tbsp. Wilton-brand Meringue Powder
1/2 cup cold water

2 cups sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup water

Whip meringue powder and cold water together until stiff - about 4-5 minutes. Over a non-reactive pot, mix the sugar, syrup and water together and boil. Turn off the heat as soon as it boils and stir a few times to allow it to cool slightly. While the mixer is running, slowly pour in the syrup to the meringue mixture and continue to whip another 4-5 minutes until still and glossy.

* frosting note: Be sure to work quickly with this icing as it will harden slightly because of the meringue. Do not freeze left over frosting and discard after about 24 hours.

** Be careful - the top layer of this cake actually slid off from the bottom layer overnight. So I suggest not putting too much icing in the middle. Had I not put a cover over the would have been all over my pre-set table!

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