December 10, 2008

A Beautiful Disaster- Red Devils Food Cake

TLMM's mother, Marilyn, recently celebrated her 72 birthday.  She requested a red devil's food cake and we were happy to oblige.  It all started out so well.

2 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup shortening
3 eggs (beat to creamy)
1 ounce (1 bottle) red food coloring
3 cups sifted cake flour
1 pinch salt
4 1/2 Tablespoons cocoa
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoon vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Mix sugar, shortening and already beaten eggs.

Add food coloring.

Continue to add the food coloring until you have emptied a small bottle (1 ounce of food coloring) into batter. Sift flour, cocoa, salt. Add flour mixture and 1 1/2 cups buttermilk alternately into shortening mixture- begin w/flour and end with flour. Mix the vinegar and baking soda together and then fold it into the cake batter.

Pour into 3 greased and lightly floured cake pans. They can be 8" or 9" pans. Put into oven preheated to 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.

Cake is finished when toothpick comes out clean.  Let it cool for 10 minutes and then loosen around edges with a butter knife.  Flip onto cooling racks and let cake cool completely.

That was the easy part.  Both the cake and the icing recipe were handed down by TLMM's grandmother who left vague instructions and who also baked without recipes, often inventing as she went.  


3 egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Bring the sugar and water to a boil until it forms a thin stream.  Beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks and add the sugar and water.  Add vanilla and powdered sugar.  Beat until stuff.  

Those are the only written instructions we have- and they seem fairly straightforward.  Well,  it didn't work.  We aren't sure what happened but suspect that we either beat the egg whites for too long or let them sit too long as we boiled the water and sugar.  We just don't know.  The icing was very soft but tasted fine, so we let it cool down and iced the cake.  That's when the three layers started sliding around and we lost control of our baking project.  

The beautiful disaster.  At this point, we figured that was the worst of it.  It wasn't pretty but promised to taste great.  We covered the cake and cut into it after dinner.

When we were ready for cake, we sang happy birthday (of course) and then with great anticipation, started slicing away.  The cake had undergone a transformation in the hours it sat.  It seemed that the cake absorbed the icing - or something- and had turned very dense.  It was like a scone.  The icing, once thick and slathered, had disappeared into the cake.  Even after some research, we can't figure out what went wrong.  The cake was different- not bad- but not the devil's food cake we meant to make.  As you might guess, this didn't stop us from eating it.  Marilyn loved her birthday cake anyway.  You live and you learn...and the eggs.


Anonymous said...

Sorry I wasn't there to celebrate Marilyn's Birthday. The cake (sliced) looks great!

Anonymous said...

Love the nod to Alanis at the end of the post.... Happy Birthday to TLMMM!


The Cookbook Junkie said...

We would call that a Red Velvet Cake here. It looks good. Somehow the more imperfect a cake looks, the better tasting it looks.

FOODalogue: Meandering Meals and Travels said...

LOL...very funny! We've all had those experiences in the kitchen.

Arties32 said...

Thanks from TLMMM for the b'day wishes :) We wish we knew what went wrong - if anyone has an idea, feel free to share.