Right now I would say that I am trying my very best to combat jet-lag because I will be taking in the sights of Charlotte, NC where my friend (and the bride to be) is from. She has promised me pulled pork, and if the BBQ is anything like the stuff that she makes, I know I won't be disappointed.
So, first cab of the rank in my line-up of stellar bloggers is David from Cocoa and Lavender. David is from Arizona in the U.S.A and coming from one of the Southern states, it seems fitting to have him start first.
I fell in love with David's blog a few months ago and if you head on over and take a look you will see why. He takes lovely, light photos and has the most wonderful respect for fresh, seasonal produce. My favourite post so far? When he re-created Remy's Ratatouille.
As one of her biggest fans I am delighted to be guest posting on Anna's blog, The Littlest Anchovy. I am honored to be visiting you here south of the equator with a traditional recipe from the southern U.S. that works well in every season!
Having grown up in the frigid northern part of the United Staes, I had never heard of a red velvet cake, until I saw the movie, "Steel Magnolias," starring Olympia Dukakis, Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine, Julia Roberts and Darryl Hannah. In the movie, in case you haven't seen it, there is a scene involving a groom's cake for the wedding. Shaped like an armadillo and slathered with textured gray icing, the alarming variation on this festive Southern treat is hacked to pieces by an irked Shirley MacLaine. ("I don't even wanna know how you make gray icing!") Here is a clip showing Shirley MacLaine serving a "piece" to the bride's father.
Ever since then, I have used red velvet cake (a recipe dating to the Great Depression in the 1930s) as a basis for many special creations, usually festive, and, yes, occasionally alarming. Most notable was a blue whale cake for a 4-year old’s birthday (blue and yellow icing with a layer of “blubber” made from raspberry Jell-O and cream). When cut, it made for a rather gory, bloody-looking scene, especially with the blubber layer. He loved it! What 4-year old boy wouldn't?
After seeing the armadillo cake and having made the whale cake, I made several other outré cakes, though not all red velvet cake. For a staff birthday party when I worked at The Children's Museum of New Hampshire, I made my version of the state-fair-famous Barbie Cake. This is an unintentionally hilarious cake, seriously presented by farm women at state fairs in the homegoods competition. Dome-shaped, impaled with a Barbie doll stuck waist-deep in the middle, the cake is decorated to imitate a southern belle’s gown. Reluctant to goop up my version with icky, sweet icing, I opted for rolled fondant accented with silver dragées. Needless to say the 30-year old birthday boy was astonished. He and the staff, including his wife, loved it too. I only wish the young couple had already had their daughter, so she could have enjoyed it, as well!
Hmmm... With green food coloring one might make quite the green velvet cake, perhaps with fringe in honour of Scarlett O'Hara’s dress made from Miss Ella’s portieres.
Red velvet cake has enjoyed a revival with the cupcake craze. (Are they as popular in Australia they are here?) It is a particularly easy cake to make and one that never fails - or falls. It has a moist crumb, a mild chocolate-y taste and an intensely red color. I have seen recipes that contain as little as 1 teaspoon food coloring, while my version uses a full, 1-ounce bottle. The cocoa content also varies. My recipe calls for 1 tablespoon whereas others have as much as ½ cup.
The cake can be made in a 9-inch by 12-inch sheet pan, or in rounds (either three 8-inch rounds or two 9-inch). Icing for a red velvet cake is traditionally a cream cheese frosting, as shown here, though nut frostings can be found in the Southern United States. And the bright red lends itself to all variety of color combinations!
I hope you enjoy this post, and that you might visit Cocoa & Lavender, too!
Red Velvet Cake
2½ cups flour
1½ cups sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa
1½ cups canola oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 1-ounce bottle red food coloring
Pinch of salt
Whisk flour, sugar and cocoa in a large mixing bowl. Mix in remaining ingredients until smooth.
Grease and flour baking pans (one 9-inch X 13-inch rectangular, two 9-inch or three 8-inch round pans).
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes (rectangular pan) or 22-25 minutes (round pans). Let cool completely before icing. Serves 12.
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
8 ounces cream cheese
5 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
Process all ingredients in a food processor until smooth and creamy.