Unless you're the guy, in which case you get a slice of herself's cake.
Which is okay... if you like sharing cake.
I don't like sharing cake.
Happily, they've invented a new tradition in the US (or at least, new to me), of the groomscake - aka, the "feckoffI'mnotsharing" cake
So on cakeday, we had two cakes:
On the left, the traditional multilayered and decorated wedding cake (with a chocolate fudge cake hidden inside, because Herself Indoors isn't completely without taste ), and on the right, my cake. Note the relative lack of decoration, the buttercream icing, and of course, it's a big chunk of cake. This is a man's cake, ladies and gentlemen, stand clear. Hiding inside the buttercream is a layered mix of chocolate fudge cake and red velvet cake, but the red velvet was the star of this particular cake.
For those who don't know it - and more especially for those who think it's maderia cake with red food colouring - red velvet cake is one of the earliest chocolate cake recipes. It's a traditional recipe for cakes from the South in the US, where the tradition of the groomscake comes from as well. They don't do many cakes well there, but the few they do seem to be made primarily of awesome. You've probably seen red velvet cupcakes around the place of late; they've become kindof popular. Unfortunately, about half of those I've eaten have been basic sponge or maderia cake with artifical colouring and taste about as much like red velvet cake as a baked armadillo. The original red velvet cake didn't use artificial colouring at all; that cropped up during the Great Depression in the US; originally, it was just the colour of the cocoa powder reacting with the vinegar that gave a slightly red-brick hue to the cake; but these days it's added in anyway, just because it's fun. People have even been known to add in other food colouring to make things like blue velvet cake. These people are BAD and WRONG and MUST BE STOPPED.
So, the choice seemed clear as to what to do for the club this week
The downside is that I don't have photos of the process. I know, I know, but you try cooking with a 4-month-old in the kitchen. You don't get time to do it all right, and the effort went into the recipe rather than the photos. But try it - it's a lot easier than you'd think...
First up, a parts list (and I've tried to avoid anything odd or wierd here, and I'll have you know I had to bake four cakes to get this right. Hardship, that's what I go through for you lot...):
- 155g Odlums Cream Flour
- 115g Odlums Tritamyl Flour (if you can find cake flour, use it; but I couldn't, and this is a pretty solid substitute - it has the same protein content as cake flour, if not a little less. you *can* use just all cream flour... but the cake isn't so much cake as a light bread afterwards.)
- 15g Cocoa powder (the best you can get - I like the green&blacks)
- 1 tsp Baking soda (or Bread soda, or whatever your shop calls it...)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 25ml (1 bottle) of red food colouring
- 1 tbsp vinegar (cider vinegar works well, so does rice wine and white wine vinegars; don't use balsalmic....)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 300g dark brown sugar
- 114g unsalted butter (that's half a pack, usually)
- 2 large eggs and 1 yolk
You don't need a stand mixer for this, so long as you have popeye's forearms and no need to do anything else that evening. Me, I use a stand mixer.
First up though, sieve the flours (yes, you want to use both types, if you use all cream flour, the cake's more like pan forte, and if you use all tritamyl, well, there's no gluten so... well I don't know what you'd get, but I wouldn't fancy cleaning up the mess afterwards ), together with the cocoa powder, baking powder and salt into a large bowl; then take a whisk and whisk it all together until it looks homogenous (you sift to break up lumps, you whisk to integrate - it's not being fussy, honest).
Now in a smaller bowl, mix the buttermilk, vinegar and vanilla extract. Now change into an old t-shirt and jeans, put on an apron, put the bowl on a few sheets of kitchen roll, and add the entire 25ml bottle of red food colouring. I'm not saying it's going to be messy. Well, I am, but maybe you'll be the exception to the rule and won't stain every square inch of fabric in the kitchen the colour of arterial blood. Maybe.
Anyway, mix it all together until the liquid looks bright pink. Now, take the bowl of your stand mixer, dump in the brown sugar and the butter, then take the butter back out, cut it into smallish cubes and put those back in. You could remember to cut it up first, or you could even just forget to cut it up until you turned on the mixer and it threw half the sugar against the far wall, but where would be the fun in that?
After about five minutes on high speed, the contents of the bowl should look like someone mixed sand with whipped cream. At this point, turn down the speed of the mixer to medium-low, and add in the eggs. Just crack them all into a cup (and the extra yolk), and pour them slowly into the running mixer one yolk at a time. Wait until you can't see the last yolk before you add the next. After this, the mix should look like wet sand mixed with whipped cream.
Now, add in the flours and the liquid, but do it in stages - add a cup of the flours first, then a half-cup of the liquid, then a cup of the flours, then a half-cup of the liquid, and so on. I just use the cup measure for the flour and the half-cup for liquid. Before each addition, stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula and give the mix a quick stir by hand with the spatula; add whatever you're adding, then start the mixer on low and build up speed to medium and leave it there for 30 seconds or until the mix looks homogenous. You really want the mix to be well... mixed. Any lumps or bits sticking to the bottom of the bowl turn into large pockets of steam during baking and you get large holes in the bottom or sides of your cake.
You may find when adding the first dose of liquid that it sprays everywhere when you start the mixer. This may be because you started the mixer on by accidentally hitting pulse. I suggest starting the mixer really slowly to avoid the mess, and writing an annoyed email to whomever designed the user interface for your stand mixer afterwards. Ahem.
Once the last addition has gone into the mix, your batter is now basicly done. Take two loaf tins, and spray them with one of those aerosol oils, line them with parchment paper (no need to do the ends or sides, you just want to do the bottom of the pans really) and divide the batter between them both. Give a little wiggle to the pans to sort out any large air bubbles, then bake them at 160C in the oven for around 30-35 minutes (about half-way through, spin the pans around and swap them around in the oven for even heating), then take a probe thermometer and check them (you want an internal temperature of 96C). Or, just bake until they're slightly springy and a toothpick will come out clean if you stick it in the middle of the cake; but that takes a bit more practice than I've had. I just stick to the thermometer.
You could use the same batter for cupcakes; just slightly less time needed (but the same internal temperature).
Or, you could do something neat and messy and use a baking tray instead of a loaf tin and pour the batter into a single large thin sheet. Cook that off, cover in frosting and roll up for a nice swiss roll, or spread with jam (did I mention that bramble jelly is the best jam to use on this cake? Well, it is) and frosting and cover with another layer to make nice cake sandwiches. Did I mention that I baked a *lot* of batter while tweaking this recipe?
Now, frosting. You can do pretty much anything - I found that chocolate frosting and a bramble jelly filling works brilliantly but is *really* heavy, especially if you make too much frosting:
But the one that everyone's liked the most so far has actually been the traditional frosting from the South, where the cake originated; cream cheese frosting. It was handy where it was invented because the temperature was too high for buttercream frosting to remain frosting - it'd melt right off the cake (no refrigeration at the time, remember). But with cream cheese frosting, it stayed like frosting at room temperature. Plus, it tastes good and it's easy to make.
So, clean out your stand mixer bowl, and add:
- 300g Philadelphia (one tub, basicly)
- 114g unsalted butter, cut into cubes (that's just the other half of the packet of butter you used to make the cake - told you this was easy)
- 2 tsp vanilla essence
- 300g of powdered sugar (icing sugar)
The end result, especially if you make too much frosting, is NYOMNYOMNYOMshortlived:
Yeah, it's messy. Yeah, it's a bit lopsided. It's manly cake, it doesn't do prissy. Shut up and eat it