Despite having a Christmas Eve birthday, there hasn’t been a single birthday that I didn’t enjoy a special birthday cake- most years, a decadent ten layer chocolate cake from Sherry’s Bakery in Dunn. Some years a special message adorned the cake- Happy Birthday Alice Grey & Jesus! I always felt special- I mean really, how many people share a birthday party with Jesus? Birthdays are special. period.
I guess not everyone feels the same as I do about birthdays. Some would just as soon forget, some think of it as just another day and some are happy with a simple cupcake. But for me…birthdays call for a big ol SPECIAL cake. When I received an invitation to my dear friends30th birthday party, I knew right away a new thing to add to my list…baking a birthday cake from scratch for a special friend.
No I am not a baker. No I have never baked a cake from scratch. No I don’t have the tools. And how the heck do you ice a cake to make it look so smooth? Oh dear. I was in over my head with this one. First on the list- deciding what type of cake. Chocolate- too predictable. Vanilla- too plain. Strawberry- yuck, artificial flavoring. Pound Cake- too easy……RED VELVET- PEFECT!!
Bet you didn’t know that red velevet cake actually got its name because of the chemical reaction between the chocolate and other ingredients…today we add red food coloring because we use a dutch process chocolate that does not cause the reaction…and really…I must admit, I had no idea that red velvet cake was really chocolate cake until I began to study recipes. Nothing says celebration better than red velvet. I searched the internet for the perfect recipe and looked to the boss…the cake boss that is… for the right recipe Buddy Valastro’s Red Velvet Cale with Cream Cheese Frosting (as seen in O mag May 2010).
Next- purchase and collect all the pieces needed to bake a cake….cake pans, flour sifter, long serrated knife, frosting spreader. Done. But how do I put it all together? There is something really intimidating about a layered cake…and add a little icing…and we are way way on another level of challenge. So I turned to YouTube. There are tons of videos on how to ice a cake. I also tried to find some interesting designs…but I felt like they were all a little cheesy. I’m just not a rose icing kinda girl nor is my friend JH.
I began the process early on Saturday morning (just in case of fiasco…more than 24 hours to get it right). First bake the layers. Cool. Cut layers. Build cake with icing between layers. Next- Crumb coating(this is when you put a light layer of frosting all over the cake to “set” the crumbs so that when you finish the icing, crumbs don’t get in the icing). Refrigerate to set. Finish icing. Decorate.
When you try a new recipe, you just never know how it might turn out. The pressure was on. JH was counting on me. Worst case scenerio…Publix was on standby. The unfortunate part about baking a cake is that you can’t sample to make sure it is tasty before serving. All we can do is cross our fingers and hope for the best…but just in case…I assembled some brownie bites (a trick I learned from my m-i-l: purchase Brownie bites from costco- sprinkle powder sugar on top…a small dollop of chocolate syrup and top with a rasberry- a festive easy dessert)!
DRUM ROLL PLEASE:
YEAH! The cake was beautiful. I did learn a few things for next time, but honestly, it was much easier and less intimidating than I thought it would be. And now that I have the tools, there may be quite a few cakes in the future. Any special request?