Tuesday, June 22, 2010
It's so difficult to brainstorm products and prices for people that you know. Not only did I have to come up with something that appeals to their tastes and that they would actually buy (which entails that they either cannot make it themselves or conveniently buy it elsewhere). I remembered often hearing the women mention red velvet cakes before. It seemed perfect, it wasn't a cultural staple, so it wasn't something that most of the women would make on their own. It was also not too simple, as many of the women were already well-seasoned in making their own quick breads, so banana bread for sale was out of the question. Red velvet was the perfect option the more I thought about it.
Then there was the price to consider. After researching prices at most well established bakeries, I found that even a small 6 inch cake can run up over $30. Considering the population of the church, I realized that this would not do. Even with the price above $20 I could already imagine their polite "No Thank You"s. I figured the price had to be low, a low amount of funds is better than no funds at all and I was hoping that the low price would encourage more orders. So, I sold 6 inch red velvet cakes for....$15 dollars. No lie. And for a moment it even pained me to do it, but it all turned out for the better in the end. The cake was very well received and on our first day of taking orders we sold 10 cakes, totaling up to $150 raised on our first go.
This of course means that this Friday, I will be in the church kitchen baking up ten red velvet cakes. And although we'll continue taking orders for more as the weeks go by (I have several requests to make a sugar-free version) I assure you that by the time I get back to school, I will be running out the door if my friends so much as request a Red-Velvet-Anything.
But for now, I give you this cake recipe. The only adaptation I made was altering the prescribed one teaspoon of cocoa powder to two tablespoons. I know, I know there is so much controversy over doing this. However, I had made a half recipe earlier in the week as a batch of mini-cupcakes for an order of 6-dozen (2 dozen lemon with cream cheese, 2 dozen vanilla with chocolate ganache, and 2 dozen red velvet) and the flavor never seemed to develop. To make a six inch cake, I only needed to use half the recipe, but I added a tablespoon of cocoa powder instead and after the cake cooled and I had sliced it and taken my bite of the scraps I immediately screamed for my sister to come down to the kitchen. Even right out of the oven, without maturing, the flavor was so full and complex. That extra hit of cocoa gave the taste so much body without actually being too obviously chocolate, because believe me I am NOT a chocolate fan. Just keep in mind that the recipe posted below makes a three-layer, 9 inch cake. You could make half and end up with a good sized 6 inch or use the other half for cupcakes. All up to you.
*Also, I'm considering making those 6 inch cakes into three-layers instead of two. Well maybe if I ever make it again for myself I'll try it out.
Southern Red Velvet Cake (adapted from Food Network)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine salt
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
red food coloring (as much as desired)
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter and flour 3 (9 by 1 1/2-inch round) cake pans.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In another large bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla.
Using a standing mixer, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and a smooth batter is formed.
Divide the cake batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Place the pans in the oven evenly spaced apart. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through the cooking, until the cake pulls away from the side of the pans, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
Remove the cakes from the oven and run a knife around the edges to loosen them from the sides of the pans. One at a time, invert the cakes onto a plate and then re-invert them onto a cooling rack, rounded-sides up. Let cool completely.
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 pound cream cheese, softened 4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar 2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup), softened 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand-held electric mixer in a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, sugar, and butter on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high, and mix until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. (Occasionally turn the mixer off, and scrape the down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.)
Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Add the vanilla, raise the speed to high and mix briefly until fluffy (scrape down the bowl occasionally). Store in the refrigerator until somewhat stiff, before using. May be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days.
Frost the cake. Place 1 layer, rounded-side down, in the middle of a rotating cake stand. Using a palette knife or offset spatula spread some of the cream cheese frosting over the top of the cake. (Spread enough frosting to make a 1/4 to 1/2-inch layer.) Carefully set another layer on top, rounded-side down, and repeat. Top with the remaining layer and cover the entire cake with the remaining frosting.