Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bloody (Red Velvet) Birthday Cake

My girl has gone Goth. My oldest one, anyway. She started by wearing black clothes and moping around the house in a typical teenage angst-ridden funk. She dyed her hair black, got black frames for her glasses, and, when we let her, wears black lipstick.

Fortunately, this is as far as it's gotten. She's not adopted an obsession with death or anything. She just digs the clothes.

One word of caution: don't call her an “emo.” She'll hit you.

She does, however, like vampires. She's read the Stephanie Meyers' Twilight books four or five times. She likes wolves, too. The more romanticized versions of werewolves, like those found in the book Blood and Chocolate are her favorite.

When her birthday rolled around, she wanted a Goth party. For her that meant having her friends over to watch the Blood & Chocolate movie. It was about this time that I learned about Red Velvet Cake. I showed her a picture of it and she got excited. The dark red crumb against white icing looked pretty bloody to both of us. Being the doting father that I am, I agreed to make one for her.

Trouble was, I'd never made one before. After cruising the web, and chatting with my foodie friends on Twitter, @ali_s recommended this recipe from Martha Stewart. I shouldn't be surprised. I think she works for Martha. Having said that, of all the red velvet cake recipes I looked at, this one seemed the most promising.

Now, let me confess, Martha Stewart's TV show annoys me. She just comes across as a bit “too perfect” to believe. But I'm more than willing to give the devil her due. She's one freakishly talented lady. Her recipe makes a tasty cake.

It turns out that red velvet cake is really just a devil's food cake with a vinegar and soda leavening agent. When it was invented, unprocessed cocoa was used. The unprocessed cocoa reacted with the vinegar to give the cake it's characteristic red color. Processed cocoa doesn't react that way so, these days we have to add red food coloring. A lot of red food coloring. Martha's recipe calls 1/4 cup of the stuff. No, that's not a typo. It's just a bit more than the standard 2 oz. bottle I used. The food coloring was the most expensive ingredient in the whole cake. Because of that, I don't think I'll be making it again anytime soon.

My goth girl wanted me to use black icing to decorate the cake, but I wasn't going for it. Traditionally these cakes are served with butter cream icing (yum) and I thought the off-white icing would highlight the red in the cake better, making it look bloodier than a dark icing would.

I didn't want to do the traditional “happy birthday” writing on top, either. This was a goth party. The guests were going to watch a werewolf movie, so I played along. I found a wolf's head pattern online for carving pumpkins. I printed it on cardstock, cut it out, and lightly placed it over the top of the cake. Then I dusted cocoa powder over the stencil to create a wolf's head pattern on top.

It was a simple trick, but the results were pretty cool. Best of all, my daughter loved the cake, and smiled as big a smile as I've ever seen. I even got a hefty hug out of the deal.

Oh, by the way. Don't tell her goth friends she was smiling and happy, let alone because of something her Dad did. They don't like that sort of thing.


Damaris said...

lucky girl. This is so awesome! I hope I will be a cool mom when my kids are teenagers even if they decide to follow the newest trend.

John Newman said...

Thanks Damaris!

Speaking of awesome, you've got some pretty cools stuff on your "Within the Corners of My Kithen" blog.

Okay everybody, click on Damaris' name and go check her blog out!