Saturday, February 11, 2012

St. Valentine's Day Massacre

So, remember when I said I would share our cooking successes and failures? Well, we had a failure this week.

Red velvet cake is my absolute favorite cake, hands down; period. I've made dozens of them from scratch, literally dozens. Recently I had a hankering for red velvet, and thought it would be fun to do it this week, before my least favorite "holiday" Valentine's Day, when red velvet cakes are running rampant at all grocery stores and bakeries. I thought, I'll make this cake, take some gorgeous pictures and share a little anecdote about the recipe. I'm learning to be a cook, but I am already a baker for sure. Nope, I was wrong, and this cake humbled me.

Mistake #1- I turned a recipe for a three layer cake into a two layer cake. Wouldn't you know the edges turned brown before the middle of the cake was cooked?

Mistake #2- I trimmed the brown edges in a hurry and took a little too much off the top of the cake. No matter; I thought I would add a little extra icing to make up for it, and the cake would still be level. Fooled again, the damage was done and the cake began to mimic an unstoppable mudslide.

Mistake #3- The previous cuts made the cake crumble, and as I was icing it the crumbs began to stick to the icing. What I really mean is you couldn't differentiate the cake from the icing as evidenced below.

Mistake #4- I tried a new icing. Instead of adding a little milk, I added some left over heavy whipping cream. I'm not sure, but I think that made the icing too thick and sticky when it came time to ice the cake. It sure tasted good though.

 Mistake #5- I lost all patience and gave up. I placed the cake in the fridge to prevent further mudslide damage, but my efforts were futile.

Notice the left side is drooping/sliding. Also, notice all the crumbs on the plate and in the icing, and...oh forget it. I could critique this photo forever. 

 Maybe it will be okay once I cut into it. No, a disaster there as well. 

 Maybe I can salvage one piece. Alas, a definitive no was the answer again. 

To boost my spirits/ego, I added this picture of a previous red velvet cake I baked. 

I wish I could blame this cake's outcomes on a bad recipe, low quality ingredients or poor assistant (Baby D), but I cannot. This cake was all on me. I've used this recipe before with the same ingredients, but try as I might, I couldn't make it work. My ego when it comes to baked goods is a tad deflated I will admit. Once I cut into it though, it tasted great. The cake was moist and not too sweet, and the icing was thick and creamy. It looked like a hot mess, but tasted like the same old red velvet cake I love. This could be a metaphor for life, and I'll let you think on that one. I know one person for sure enjoyed it, and she didn't even complain that it was horribly disfigured. One of the many things I love about her; she can have her cake and eat it too.