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]
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
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans with shortening and line bottom with parchment.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla. Mix well.
- In a small condiment cup, stir together liquid food coloring and cocoa powder until smooth and then add to the butter mixture.
- 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.
- 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.
- Divide batter between the two prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cake springs back when pressed in the center.
- Let cakes cool slightly in pans. Run a knife along the edge of the pans and turn cakes out. Let cool completely before 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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.