Thursday, February 18, 2010

My somewhat complicated relationship with the red velvet cake

Sometimes I just look out my kitchen window around sunset and it's miraculous for a minute...

The first time I ate red velvet cake was at my own wedding.   My cake palate could be considered pedestrian by true foodies but in my vast experience, the cheaper the cake the better it is...cafeteria chocolate cake (any cafeteria) being my favorite cake of all.  So had it not been for my mom and her refined sensibilities, I probably would have pre-ordered a large sheet cake with Cool Whip frosting from the Winn Dixie for my big day.  Mom and the nice bakery lady instead talked me off that bad taste ledge and suggested a traditional tiered red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting and silver charm ribbon pulls.  And then a chocolate grooms cake with a raspberry filling.  Say what now?  Two cakes?  Who knew getting married would be so fun!

At our reception, long before there was a song about them, all the single ladies gathered around the cake and pulled a ribbon from the bottom of the cake in which a little silver charm was folded.  There were twelve pulls but I only remember two.  The thimble to the woman who would be destined an old maid and the little ring to the woman who would be destined to marry first. 
The thimble.  So.....much..... bitterness to this day about the thimble.  We're friends still but she's not married and we both wonder.  Oh the things we wish we could go back into our past and do differently, this rates right up there for me.  I would go back to that very day with my mom and the nice bakery lady and say, “No thimble."

I’ve made numerous attempts over the years trying to bake a great red velvet cake—make it my thing, you know.  Never mind the cancer and adult ADHD clusters I’ve created in my wake pumping all that red dye into friends and family.  

I was just refilling the vanilla, I swear.  Not that I wasn't tempted....

In the end it will never happen because for all of my good intentions, I'm a non-intuitive baker.  I’ve been lost in Chemistry since 10th grade.  A few years ago, I tried a new recipe for the frosting, following very wrongly as I do the spirit of the law of baking rather than the letter of the law…and with a curious result even for me.  I made frosting soup.  I couldn’t save it in the end as my guests were arriving so served it by candlelight so no one could quite see what they were eating.  It was frightening looking quite literally with the lights on.

Today’s cake.  Frosting still a little wrong, but I do believe this one can be served in the light of day.


  1. Your prose is superb....who cares about the cake....Concentrate on your strength!

  2. So, did the woman who pulled the little ring marry first?

  3. No, she was only 21 or 22 so that's probably a good thing. What the hell was I doing getting married for that matter?

  4. Well, clearly, you weren't deluded in your (our) youth. 22 years laters, all's well.

    I don't remember which one I pulled. A dime? Clearly no ring, and that proves they're not exactly accurate.

    So at my wedding 3 weeks later, there was a tussle over a bouquet. Was there a connection with your thimble lady? Just curious.... :)

    Delightful as always.

  5. I want you to make one in the shape of an armadillo, like in Steel Magnolias
    "It's got gray icing, I can't even begin to think how you'd make gray icing"