Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Red Velvet: The Thrill is Gone
For several years, I baked and sold red velvet cakes to a couple of local cafes. I even made the wedding "cake" -- 200 red velvet cupcakes -- for a wedding at the Montauk Club. All this was back when red velvet cakes were a special treat. Now, they are everywhere, from Duncan Hines mixes to the corner bodega.
I would bake two cakes at a time (my decidedly non-commercial oven could only accommodate four round pans), and the ritual became so routine that I felt like I could put these together in my sleep. The only excitement was trying to shave off time, to try to top my personal best which, if I recall correctly, was two cakes baked and frosted in 1.5 hours. I couldn't cut the time down much more, because the layers had to cool before frosting.
The last time I made one was in February, but just to enter a contest. (See entry below.)
So when DH asked me last week to bake a red velvet cake to serve colleagues at a screening at work, I resisted. I once heard that Billy Joel had stopped performing his perennial favorite, I Love You Just the Way You Are, when mid-song on stage, he found himself thinking that if he could get to his hotel by midnight, he could still order room service, all the while continuing to sing. His heart clearly wasn't in the song. My heart clearly wasn't into making a red velvet, but I complied. After all, DH would do it for me (if he baked, that is).
Of course, the cake was a huge hit at his office; I got lots of emails from his co-workers using all manner of adjectives describing the deliciousness of the cake. It is a good cake. It's very moist (thanks to the vegetable oil), sweet and pretty. It's just so predictable. And baking without the possibility of surprise isn't thrilling at all. Even if it is a guaranteed crowd pleaser.