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.

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Bria
Bria
10 years ago

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

Pâtisserie Paris
Pâtisserie Paris
10 years ago

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

Katie Yoon
Katie Yoon
10 years ago

I love love love this cake! awesome!!

Ashley Elin
Ashley Elin
10 years ago

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!

Sugar Swings
Sugar Swings
10 years ago

you are impressive lady!!

Julie
Julie
10 years ago

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 🙂

Unknown
Unknown
10 years ago

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
Julie
10 years ago

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

Becca
Becca
10 years ago

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.

AllThingsYummy
AllThingsYummy
10 years ago

That's an awesome cake.

Lauren Hairston
Lauren Hairston
10 years ago

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
Sekai Photography
10 years ago

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

Paula
Paula
10 years ago

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
Rosa's Yummy Yums
10 years ago

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

Cheers,

Rosa

Anonymous
Anonymous
10 years ago

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

Blog da Nô
Blog da Nô
10 years ago

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
Anonymous
10 years ago

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.

Unknown
Unknown
10 years ago

Amazing – as always!!

invitation consultants
invitation consultants
10 years ago

super impressive!!

bridget {bake at 350}
bridget {bake at 350}
10 years ago

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

DeeAnna
DeeAnna
10 years ago

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

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
10 years ago

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

Emma
Emma
10 years ago

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
Cookbook Queenh
10 years ago

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
My Little Expat Kitchen
10 years ago

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
Tara @ Chip Chip Hooray
10 years ago

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

Karen
Karen
10 years ago

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
Nicole
10 years ago

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
Katherine Martinelli
10 years ago

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

Emily
Emily
10 years ago

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

Sue
Sue
10 years ago

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
Lili
10 years ago

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
Sweetie Darling
10 years ago

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

glutoniana
glutoniana
10 years ago

Creepy! You have been great! I love it!

Las recetas de Glutoniana

Rosie @ Sweetapolita
Rosie @ Sweetapolita
10 years ago

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
Dana@TheSundaySweet
10 years ago

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

marla
marla
10 years ago

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 🙂

Erin
Erin
10 years ago

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

Maia at Sweet Alchemies
Maia at Sweet Alchemies
10 years ago

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
The Cilantropist
10 years ago

Wow this is impressive, and I LOVE the shot of the knife in the cake – classic. 😀

Nic@diningwithastud
Nic@diningwithastud
10 years ago

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

Rituparna
Rituparna
10 years ago

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

Lora
Lora
10 years ago

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

Darla | Bakingdom
Darla | Bakingdom
10 years ago

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!

Simones Kitchen
Simones Kitchen
10 years ago

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!

Unknown
Unknown
10 years ago

amazingly haunting. LOVE IT

Room 118
Room 118
10 years ago

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!

Heather Baird
Heather Baird
10 years ago

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
Vivian
10 years ago

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

Su-yin
Su-yin
10 years ago

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