Sunday, March 11, 2007


Red velvet cake.

From scratch.

Conquering cake making has become my quest in life.

It started several months ago, when I was in Charleston, SC, and had RVC for dessert at a luncheon I attended.

I came home and bought a Duncan Hines box mix and baked away. Result: Good.

But I wanted to make this cake all by myself. On my own. From a recipe. No box mixes.

Several weeks ago, my friend, Dr Lala was in town, and we conjured up a RVC from scratch using a recipe from the Food Network. In a word: Crapola.

Okay, I can't blame the recipe entirely. I think the flour I had was old and I used canola oil instead of vegetable and I beat the batter too long. The result was a cake with the consistency of corn bread and a flavor that tasted like, well, old flour. Went straight from the cake plate into the trash. Twas sad, really.

About a week after that debacle, I found a RVC recipe on the Washington Post. Seems RVC is "The Thing" this year for the wedding set. Who knew? This recipe featured butter, more cocoa powder, more cinnamon, more red dye, and buttermilk.

I carefully followed every direction right down to the last period. The result: Passable.

I managed to make a cake that is a robust, ruby red. The crumb is a little bigger than I'd care for and I have a few air pockets in the cake. The flavor is subtly cinnamon, with an undertone of chocolate. I made a buttercream frosting to go on it, but may not have used enough confectioner's sugar. (Not to mention, the brand we can get out here is NOT C&H and there is a difference, believe me. Domino is plechy. But you gotta work with what ya got.)

All in all, I think it turned out all right. I want to learn more about cake making and I need to learn how to make a cake that has more heft and a smaller crumb.

I took pictures, but you'll have to wait until they're developed to be able to see them.... Digital camera is on the blink. The picture above is not mine. I found it on Google Images.


Di said...

As always, I recommend Cooks Illustrated for how to make GREAT homemade cakes - they will tell you exactly why your crumb turned out the way it did, and how to make it even better.

That said, YUM. I bet it was damn good.

Zanne said...

Cake, from scratch?!!
(picture me arms outstretched bowing at the waist!)

JMK said...

Di: I was going to look there tonight. Overall, the cake wasn't bad, but for the one or two bites one eats sans frosting, it was apparent something just wasn't quite "right." I'll keep working on it, though.

Zanne: Don't been too impressed. 99% of the time, I make my cakes from a box. It's just easier and 9.9 times out of 10 they're a sure thing.

CreoleInDC said...

I'm with di...Cooks Illustrated is AWESOME to use to get to the bottom of a cooking issues. I promise!

Miss you Princess!

JMK said...

Creole in DC: Cook's Illustrated is the VERY best, I agree. In fact, it's the only magazine I subscribe to. I long ago cancelled my subscriptions to Gourmet, Saveur, The New Yorker, Nat'l Geographic, and a host of other soft books I was getting but not reading. But Cook's I've kept. It's worth every single penny!

hm-UK said...

Is that a picture of your cake? Wow, I'm sure it tasted lovely...recipe please?

JMK said...

HM_UK: No, that's a Google Image. I took pictures, but have to get them developed. As soon as I do, I'll post them.

I'll email you the recipe and will post it here, as well, shortly.

Adriana Velez said...

Yay, congratulations and good luck in your future efforts! Maybe I'll be there someday to benefit from your extensive R&D.

JMK said...

Thanks, Adriana! That means a lot to me coming from you. I am discovering that the cake is tasting better and better as time goes by. I had a slice last night and liked it much more than I did on Sunday. I'm wondering if I need to use a different cinnamon next time, too. I used Saigon cinnamon this time 'round and I wonder if I shouldn't be using something more common and mild?

Anyway--I'll keep trying to make it work and will report all results here.

Note to everyone: I'll be posting the recipe here in a few days, as well.