Monday, February 15, 2010

Cake of the Week: Red Velvet, Africa Style

Happy Tuesday!

I've been planning this cake since I read
Baking Cakes in Kigali a couple weeks ago. The pressure was on because I definitely talked this cake up - I told all my friends, I want to make an Africa cake. And it's going to be really really colorful and amazing!
But then Snowmageddon hit, which meant that you couldn't find basic commodities (i.e. milk) in the grocery stores, let alone food coloring. And then Snoverkill continued through the week, which meant that my snowed in fatstorm did not inspire me in the cake direction (what to do when you can't go out? eat.).But finally this weekend the city began to emerge from its hibernation, the steam shovels were out with a vengence (yes, steam shovels not snow plows), and on a much-needed long walk (cabin fever anyone? anyone?) I ventured to a far-away and better-stocked Safeway for food coloring. And they had it! (Living in the middle of DC really can be like the Soviet Union, I swear! Will que for food coloring? Da. But only when absolutely necessary.)

So what did I make with this boon of food dye? A
Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Except for, again, the cake turned out more brown than red! I guess I should have expected this, I mean, the only reason red velvet is red is thanks to an ENTIRE bottle of food coloring. Last time, I made a
brown velvet cake because I didn't have any coloring. This time, I used a half-bottle (since I knew that I would need the rest for my purple frosting), and the cake really wasn't red at all. Oh well. I mean, it's just dye, right? You'll forgive me?

I used
Sister 2's favorite red velvet recipe, with just one minor modification (two if you count the food coloring): I substituted natural applesauce for half the butter. (Hate me accordingly...but I told you about the recent fatstorm! And you really can't taste any difference!)

I made 2 layers and 6 cupcakes.

Makes 16 servings.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

2 cups granulated sugar

4 eggs

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup milk

1 bottle (1 ounce) red food coloring

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened

2 tablespoons sour cream

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 box (16 ounces) confectioners' sugar


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 2 (9-inch) round cake pans. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

2. Beat butter and granulated sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Mix in sour cream, milk, food color and vanilla. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until just blended. Do not overbeat. Pour batter into prepared pans.

3. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire rack.

4. For the Frosting, beat cream cheese, butter, sour cream and vanilla in large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar until smooth. Fill and frost cooled cake with frosting.

And then it was time for the frosting.

"Mollie, only you would look at a piece of fabric and say
Yes, I'm going to make a cake just like this!"

Touché Roomie. And that's why you love me.

I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm not much of a cake decorator. It's just not my thing. So this multi-colored-plus-swirls was quite a departure from the norm for me. I made the cream cheese frosting, then separated it out into bowls, then added the food coloring. And just a head's up - to make your frosting this colorful, you're going to need
a lot of food coloring. Like almost a whole bottle per color. 

I cut the bigger of the 2 layers in half, then frosted the insides and sides of the cake with blue.

Then I popped it into the freezer to solidify for a couple minutes.

Next I frosted the top of the cake with purple.

Again into the freezer.

I don't have a decorating kit, so I just scooped the green into a plastic bag and cut off the end. (High tech, I know.) And swirled it around the top.

The cake is a bit garish, but that's what it was
supposed to be. Africans love color (broad generalization, I know), so this is my Africa cake.

Oh, and just so you know, though it may look like a pagne, (or a weird Halloween experiment) it is absolutely