Icing on the (red velvet) cake

This weekend, I baked a 4-layer cake from scratch for the first time ever. Cupcake fever has hit DC, and lately I have been eating a whole lot of red velvet cupcakes. I became curious about the devilish delight after one local cupcake shop told me they don’t serve it because of its large food coloring content.

It turns out that loads of red food coloring give the cake its bright red tint, and vinegar gives this sweet treat a distinct savory touch.

I opted for a cake rather than cupcakes so that I could use it for my husband’s birthday. After some research, I decided to try Bobby Flay’s version of the cake, but with a famous cream cheese icing (the classic combination) made by New York’s famous Cakeman Raven.

I baked the cakes the night before so they would have time to cool before I sliced and iced them. I added blue food coloring to some of the icing to decorate the cake.

Birthday cake
The cake turned out drier than I would have liked, but the icing was absolutely delicious. Two mistakes I made:

1) I ran out of food coloring, so I only used half the amount called for in the recipe. I substituted water for the remainder.

2) I used natural cocoa powder instead of Dutch-processed, and learned later that there’s a big difference. The latter is less bitter, which explains why Bobby had me put 3 tablespoons of it in the cake. Cakeman Raven uses natural cocoa powder, but only puts in 1 teaspoon. I put in the larger amount of natural cocoa powder, and I am sure this affected the final product.

But as I said, the frosting more than compensated, and the cake was well-complimented. The best part is that after you bake a 4-layer cake for your partner, they feel greatly indebted to you for quite some time.

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