Holiday Party Recap, Part III: Ready For a Throwdown!

A couple of reliable standards that I made for the holiday party included the Chocolate-Almond Souffle Torte (pictured here immediately after it came out of oven when it actually looked like a souffle, and before the it sank considerably upon cooling), and the Peanut Butter and Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookie. Whenever I have a lot of baking to do (meaning several days worth), I make a detailed schedule of what needs to get done when, balancing the workload as much as possible, and taking into consideration what items can be made earlier and what items have to be made at the last minute. I made the pretzel cookies two days before the party because I know that they are sturdy and would taste just as good on day three as they would the day they were baked.

I also decided to try, for the first time ever, making a red velvet cake. Tom and I recently watched an episode of Throwdown! with Bobby Flay featuring red velvet cake. If you've never seen the show, each 30 minute episode features chef Bobby Flay trying to best a professional cook at his or her own signature dish. For this episode, Flay challenged Cake Man Raven of Brooklyn to a red velvet cake throwdown. Tom and I both thought that Cake Man Raven was extremely likable, and his cake looked amazing -- fire engine red with loads of cream cheese frosting studded with pecans. Bobby Flay's version was a somewhat homely looking muddy shade of almost red with a cooked and rather haphazardly-applied frosting (you can find Flay's recipe here). I won't spoil the results of the throwdown, but suffice it to say that I was inspired enough by the episode to decide that I had to try making the cake myself.

I found Cake Man Raven's recipe online, here. It's actually very simple to make. You whisk together oil, buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, vinegar and red food coloring, and then mix in the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa), which have been sifted together. The batter looks like red paint when you pour it into the pans. I only have two round cake pans, and so I made a two-layer cake instead of a three-layer cake. I also decided to use the frosting recipe from Pumpkin-Raisin Bars, which is very similar to Cake Man Raven's frosting recipe, except that it is less sweet and does not include vanilla. I think that the Pumpkin-Raisin Bar frosting is the most delicious frosting on earth. Really. I had to make a triple batch of it to have enough to fill and cover the cake.

This headturner is the natural center of attention in a sea of other baked goods. The cake itself is very moist and quite tasty, although if you asked me what it tastes like, I would say it could accurately be described as "birthday cake" (if that's a flavor). Together with the frosting, the cake is just incredibly tasty. The color and appearance of this intensely red cake is striking and gorgeous and I swear, it just screams out to anyone passing by, "I AM SPEC-TAC-U-LAR! YOU WANT TO EAT ME!" It's irresistible.

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Tyler Hewitt said…
Do you know the urban legend about red velvet cake?