Attention, readers! Here in the Palo Alto kitchen we have a science-defying, diet-busting, jeans-shrinking, mind-blowing red velvet cake. This distinctly Southern delight was inspired by a certain character in a certain play that a certain theatre class is certainly performing soon! That would be Clairee Belcher in Steel Magnolias, people. Yup, that’s the one where (SPOILER ALERT) everyone cries. The absolute tear-jerker of a play manages to be hilarious, devastating and breathtakingly written at the same time. I get to bring to life the matriarch of the whole thing, the epitome of a proper Southern lady (not unlike a particular grandmother [yup, Gram, I’m talking about you]). Clairee is sweet and sassy and she inspired this cake. The cake itself is a bomb.com recipe from the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. I got it from a woman who found it in her shed with a note that said that the recipe-recorder had paid $250 dollars for it.
The decorations were – an adventure. I, being the Buzzfeed addict that I am, was inspired by one of those classic Buzzfeed lists, this time about cake decorating. Unfortunately, once I’d melted my chocolate, with which I was going to artfully pipe out some pretty decorations, I added cold milk. This turned my nice, melted chocolate into basically chocolate clay. I will let you in on a secret, readers. I am a baker. I am not a decorator. Decorations are usually the weakest part of whatever I am baking. Hopefully I will improve with time, but it is a work in progress. Riley Guggenhime, if you’re reading this, THANK YOU! you are a decorating lifesaver. So here it is. The cake that tastes delish, has a beautiful red color, and which broke the no sugar pact I’d been keeping up for a week.
Note: Try this substitute for cake flour: 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons regular flour, 2 tablespoons cornstarch. You can put the cornstarch in the bottom of your measuring cup. For buttermilk, try this: 1 teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice with 1/2 cup milk. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes. I learned that from Sally – thanks, Sally!
Waldorf Astoria Cake from Food.com:
Makes two 8-inch round layers.
- 1 cup butter
- 1 1⁄2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 ounces red food coloring (I used “christmas red” gel)
- 2 tablespoons cocoa (heaping)
- 1 cup buttermilk (see note)
- 2 1⁄4 cups cake flour (see note)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- In a stand mixer, cream butter, sugar and eggs.
- Make a paste with red food coloring and cocoa. It will basically still look like cocoa powder, your paste will not turn red. Add to mixer.
- Combine flour and salt, then add half to the mix.
- Add half your buttermilk, then the rest of the flour and salt.
- Now, add the rest of the buttermilk and mix.
- Add vanilla.
- Create that super fun reaction with the baking soda and vinegar together (let out your inner second-grader!) and wait for it to stop bubbling a bit to add it to the mix.
- Pour into greased and floured cake pans (I also put parchment paper circles on the bottoms of mine), and bake at 350˚ for 24-30 minutes.
- Let cool and frost.
Cream Cheese Frosting from the Food Network:
- 4 ounces butter
- 4 ounces soft cream cheese (I used low fat neufchâtel cheese)
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Combine butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer.
- Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, with mixer on s l o w s p e e d.
- Beat in vanilla.
and yes, I am burning the almost-midnight oil to post this. you’re welcome. 😉