Thursday, September 22, 2011

Portrait of Poe in Waldorf Astoria Red Velvet


I've been absent from the blogosphere for the past couple of weeks; maybe you've noticed.  I wish I could tell you that I was on a relaxing vacation, but instead I was recuperating from the worst cold I've had in a long time. There's something lurking out there folks.  Beware.  Stay well.

During this time of recuperation I pored over every page of the new Martha Stewart Halloween issue (have you seen it? Good stuff!).  I also curled up with a book of prose by Mr. Edgar A. Poe and became properly creeped out.  It took my mind off being sick for a little while, but soon I was desperate to bake up something spooky!


I realize skeletons and spiders are spookier than the morose looking Mr. Poe, but after spending time with his super creepy work last week I felt a special homage was in order.


This version of red velvet is supposedly the original, and often referred to as Waldorf-Astoria Cake.  It has a deep blood red hue that makes a perfect ghastly interior for this particular project.  The old fashioned boiled frosting is a nice departure from the currently favored cream cheese coating.  I think it tastes a great deal like the filling in a hostess Twinkie, and I'll be using it again and again.


I've kept the cake and icing printable separate from the "Portrait of Poe" instructions, just in case you'd rather not invite him for dessert.

Waldorf Astoria Red Velvet
Yield: one 2 layer 8-9-inch cake                                                                                              [click to print]

Cake:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 oz. liquid red food coloring
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon white vinegar

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two 9-inch round cake pans with shortening and line bottom with parchment.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add the eggs and vanilla.  Mix well.
  3. In a small condiment cup, stir together liquid food coloring and cocoa powder until smooth and then add to the butter mixture.
  4. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add flour to butter mixture in three additions, alternating with the cup of buttermilk.  Begin and end with flour.  Scrape down bowl and mix well.
  5. In a small condiment cup, combine baking soda and vinegar.  Mixture will bubble and fizz.  Pour into the cake batter and mix until well incorporated.
  6. Divide batter between the two prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cake springs back when pressed in the center.
  7. Let cakes cool slightly in pans.  Run a knife along the edge of the pans and turn cakes out.  Let cool completely before icing.


Boiled icing:
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  1. In a large saucepan, whisk together flour and 1/2 cup of milk until smooth. Set over medium heat and and whisk in remaining milk and salt.  Whisk constantly until mixture is thick and paste-like.  Remove from heat and let cool completely.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine butter and sugar.  Beat until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla and mix well.
  3. Beat cooled flour mixture into the butter mixture on high speed.  Beat for several minutes (6-10) until sugar granules have dissolved.  You can check this by rubbing a little between your thumb and forefinger.
  4. Frost cooled cakes.


Portrait of Poe in Fondant                                                                                                    [click to print]

1/4 lb. white ready make fondant
1/4 lb black ready made fondant
X-acto knife
Small artist's brush
This free clipart template printed at 200%

Before frosting the cake, brush away any crumbs from the cake's surface with a pastry brush (A).
Crumb coat the cake with icing (B).
Lay the Poe template upon a flat surface.  Position a cake pan (the size of the cake) over the template and draw around the circumference.  Cut out with scissors and set aside. (C)
Roll  the white fondant on a work surface (that you don't mind cutting on) lightly dusted with confectioners' sugar.  Place the cake pan on the fondant and cut around the cake using the x-acto knife. This will give an  8 or 9-inch white round "canvas" to work on.
Roll the black fondant and place the Poe template on top. (D)
Using the x-acto knife, very carefully cut into and through the paper and fondant, tracing the outside of the head and bust.  Cut out the face as well. You should now have a duplicate of the head and bust (E). Position the cut silhouette in the round 9" white circle. Use the artists' brush to dab the underneath of the silhouette with water sparingly.  This will make it stick to the white circle of fondant.
Use the cut-out face to fit inside the cut-out to perfectly position the silhouette.(F).
In the same manner, cut out the eyes. Cut the nose and mouth as one piece.  You may use the face again to help with exact positioning of the pieces. (G)  Use scraps of black fondant to make the lines under the mouth and beside the nose. When the features are perfectly positioned, you may use the artists brush again to sparingly wet the backs of the fondant pieces so they will stick to the white fondant circle.  Two tiny scraps of white fondant may be used for the reflection in the middle of the eyes (H).
Using scraps of white fondant, cut the neck kerchief in four main pieces.  Place atop the black silhouette at the neck.  Adhere with water, as before.
Transfer the completed circle to the top of the crumb-coated cake.  Ice the sides of the cake with a generous amount of additional frosting, creating swirls and texture.

70 comments:

Bria said...

amazing!!! You are such a talent, I love the graphic cutout fondant work you do, its incredible.

Pâtisserie Paris said...

I love this theme. I love Edgar Allen Poe! Nice touch with the crow ;)

Katie Yoon said...

I love love love this cake! awesome!!

Ashley Elin said...

This is wonderful! Not only do I adore Edgar Allen Poe's works, I also have grown up with Waldorf Astoria Red Velvet Cake (which for a long time most people I talked to didn't even know about it!). Every birthday it was the one I asked for. The current trend of red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting has always seemed a bit off to me, since the frosting we used was similar to the one you posted here. Thanks for the great post!

sugarswings said...

you are impressive lady!!

Julie said...

I'm sorry to hear you've been sick lately :( Glad to know you're feeling better. I noticed you were oddly absent from both blogging and twitter so I was curious. This is such a fantastic return though! I've been a fan of Poe for years now and this cake looks so incredible! I definitely want to try my hand at it :)

Sarah (Snippets of Thyme) said...

Love it!! Especially the knife sticking out of his head! Yes, I have patiently been waiting to be delighted by one of your concoctions. This is definitely a "concoction". So sorry that you have been sick. My son and I just had to read "The Birds". ew.

Julie said...

My goodness, that is just the most awesome thing ever!! I am a huge Poe fan and LOVE THIS!

Becca said...

My God, you are so talented. My cake would never turn out remotly close to that, haha. I really like Poe, but I haven't really read his stuff, does that sound weird. I just can't seem to find a book with his works in it.

All Things Yummy said...

That's an awesome cake.

Lauren said...

I love it when you combine books and baking! I'm a fan of the Waldorf Astoria cake--it's such a nice, clear red--and I like boiled frosting, too! I'm quite impressed by your fondant work, as well. Poe's kinda cute and sad at the same time.

P.S. Glad to hear you're feeling better!

Sekai Photography said...

amazing!!! and this comes from a huge Poe fan!

The Vanilla Bean Baker said...

This is beautiful...in a very chilling way actually. Excellent work. Hope you are fully recovered and that it's that last cold you get this year.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Beautiful! You are a very talented cake decorator. I love Edgar Allan Poe.

Cheers,

Rosa

warmvanillasugar said...

This is pure genius! What a beautiful, spooky, cake. Glad to hear you're feeling a bit better, and back at being awesome.

...Noêmia! said...

Hello, Heather!

Poe is one of my favorite writers! I read the first book of Poe when he was 12 and was ingrained in my brain!
I'm your fan, Heather! I love their work and talent! The cake is splendid! Tribute to another of an idol!

A big hug!

PS: I do not speak English, but I follow the blog with the translator! Thank you for providing this tool!

Anonymous said...

I love this! Your pictures are gorgeous, and red velvet is my favorite cake! Also, it definitely is a bit spooky. I especially like the picture with the knife in Poe's head.

Jaq said...

Amazing - as always!!

invitation consultants said...

super impressive!!

bridget {bake at 350} said...

This is so cool and creepy and awesome all at once! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!!!

DeeAnna said...

Genius. My dad used to read Poe to us before bed. It made for many nights of sleeping with the lights on.

Elizabeth said...

This is A-mazing! Two of my favorites{Edgar Allan Poe and red velvet} in one incredible creation. I absolutely love it!!!

Emma said...

And the Poe will top this cake........ nevermore.

Cause it's all sort of delicious looking and I bet it's long gone;)

Cookbook Queenh said...

This blows my mind. Amazing. And the COLORS!! SO so gorgeous. Insane, really.

So sorry to hear you've been under the weather,friend. Hope you're back in action and feeling well :)

My Little Expat Kitchen said...

What an amazing cake!!
I love the works of Poe, creepy as they are, I don't mind :)

Stay well!
Magda

Tara @ Chip Chip Hooray said...

Hope you're feeling better! Glad to see you back in the blogosphere. :)

Karen said...

When I saw this cake I thought it was something the Astoria had on display, then I was amazed when I read further and discovered you created this. There's nothing you can't do if you can create this when you're not feeling well. Bravo! (and hope you feel better soon)

Nicole said...

I am in AWE. I absolutely adore Poe and his works and you've done such a beautiful job with this cake… it's definitely the most amazing cake I've seen in a while. Stunning.

Katherine Martinelli said...

This is AMAZING. Just incredible. Love the inspiration, the execution, everything. Brilliant.

Emily said...

I think a Poe cake is WAY creepier than skeletons and spiders. Amazing job!

Sue said...

I just thought you were busy with your book, Heather. Sorry to hear you were SO sick! I wish my illnesses would produce this kind of inspiration! AMAZING! I would so love to have a wedge of your original red velvet cake~the red really pops with the black and white. Just "love" the photo with the knife:) You're a true artist!

Lili said...

Oh this is so much fun! Love the raven posed on the rim of that wine glass too. There's just something about Halloween that gets me everytime and I must go out and get Martha's Halloween issue to pour over too. So glad you've recouped and are back at it. You always bring us so much inspiration Heather! xo ~Lili

Sweetie Darling said...

Love it! I am baking red velvet as we speak too! All the more spooky! :-)

glutoniana said...

Creepy! You have been great! I love it!


Las recetas de Glutoniana

Rosie @ Sweetapolita said...

You officially rock. Oh wait, I already knew that, Heather! I love, love this cake--so unique and creative, as is everything you do. Fabulous! I'm glad to hear you're feeling better. xo

Dana@TheSundaySweet said...

This is pretty darn impressive! I'm a sucker for a good red velvet. Welcome back :)

marla said...

Sorry to hear you were so sick. I did notice your absence and missed you....The cake is stunning. Creepy in the most intellectual of ways. Glad to see your creative energy is yet again unleashed :)

Erinsgobragh said...

What a great Halloweeny cake. I love poe I remember writing my High school thesis on him!

Maia at Sweet Alchemies said...

Martha's magazine is always my go-to for adorable and completely over-the-top Halloween recipes. This cake you've created could totally belong to the magazine! Amazing work with the fondant.

The Cilantropist said...

Wow this is impressive, and I LOVE the shot of the knife in the cake - classic. :D

Nic@diningwithastud said...

Love it! Red velvet's my fave and the icing looks so pro!!

Rituparna said...

This is incredible. That portrait is so life like, n the cake looks moist and delicious.

Lora said...

Wonderful twist on a halloween dessert and what a graet homage to the man himself!

Darla | Bakingdom said...

Fantastic!! I love the creepy-cool factor. Totally spooky for Halloween without being in your face. And Poe is so amazingly done! Your talent never ceases to amaze me, Heather!

Junglefrog said...

Sorry to hear you've not been feeling well Heather. I have heard other people being ill so it does seem to go around... I love love love that cake! The color is just eye popping amazing and great work on the portrait too!

Trish - Sweetology101 said...

amazingly haunting. LOVE IT

Room 118 said...

Again, amazing, but question...didn't the original Waldorf Astoria red velvet have an almond flavor? This is something that my mom has always told me. Just wondering what you knew about it, thanks!

SprinkleBakes said...

I do not know of a red velvet recipe that has almond in it. Over the years as recipes get handed down and adapted, (especially an old one like this) it's possible that some of the original ingredients have been removed. I wish the original had been published in a newspaper or more reliable document.

Vivian said...

Lovely pictures! I love how the slice of cake is next to The Raven.

Su-yin said...

Awesome cake, it's more stylish than scary I must say! Glad you're feeling better now. x

Leanne said...

I made this yesterday minus Poe and it's one of the best red velvet cakes I've tried. can I ask why your icing is so white though? My icing looks yellow-er and is it suppose to taste super buttery? We don't have twinkies in Australia so I can't make a comparison. I have a feeling I might've used too much butter...

Elizabeth said...

This is the most awesome-st cake! I'm going to attempt it, my English poetry class would love this! Plus red velvet is my favorite!

SprinkleBakes said...

Hi Leanne! Hmm, my icing was more on the white side than yellow. You can always replace some of the butter with white vegetable shortening. That would cut the butter taste and lighten the color. Here, 1 stick of butter is 113 grams. Hope this helps!

Lynnea said...

I'm totally loving the Martha Stewart Halloween issue! it's so fun and adult Halloween party centric. I think your Poe cake is really in keeping with that same style and also lots of fun for me and all the other english majors in my life! Thanks for posting such a wonderful project.

SweetSavoryPlanet said...

What a beautifully Poe-etic cake! I couldn't resist, sorry. I am decorator challenged but I might have to try this one.

Louise said...

Absolutly fab!!!! Love the intense redness of the cake.
Can I just ask you what kind of food coloring you use to get the effect?
The ones we have here in Sweden isn´t that red and I realy want to get that "wowness".

Karen said...

This is great! I really really love the Poe cake

Kristina said...

What a perfect halloween idea!! I love it - perfectly creepy and classy, and kind of nerdy at the same time. Brilliance.

Lissa said...

This cake is absolutely stunning. The photography is equally so. The white tablecloth and cake, the red wine and red velvet cake, the black napkins and crow... just gorgeous. I'd like to make this to serve after the premier of the new Poe movie, The Raven, coming out next year.

Jessica @ O. Alouette said...

Wow!! Can I just say I am totally in awe of your talent?! This is just amazing - I really love Poe and everything about this cake is perfect!

Mrs. Limestone said...

Wow - this is totally amazing! Love.

ameliablaire said...

i truly feel like this is the ultimate Halloween cake!

Laura Sweet said...

Absolutely stunning work- I don't think I could bring myself to eat it!

Anyhow, I featured your beautiful cake and linked back here to the recipe in my Halloween post of all things Poe today :)

http://ifitshipitshere.blogspot.com/2011/10/plenty-of-poe-for-halloween-edgar-allan.html

thanks for sharing your talents,
Laura

Brandy said...

I absolutely love this cake! I am going to an after Halloween Party this weekend and will be trying my hand at this recipe! Thanks for the wonderful blog!

Anonymous said...

Do you like this red velvet cake or the heritage red velvet cake better thanks? Stunning cake by the way :)

SprinkleBakes said...

I like both equally, but most people favor the Waldorf-Astoria. I've had some commenters say the Heritage is too rich and overly-buttery.

Alejandra said...

I've told my husband this has to be my cake for next year! :-p Poe is my favorite writer and your cake is brilliant! :D

Anonymous said...

I was so excited about this cake when I first read it but after cooking it, I realized that the cake itself was rather bland. For anyone who is trying to be healthy and make the cake without the frosting, don't. The frosting really does make the cake.

Anonymous said...

I just ADORE this cake and the concept behind it- I want a Poe cake for my 100th!! ~ A.N.

Dina said...

such a cool cake! i love your photos. very creative!

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