February 17, 2011

Possibly the Ugliest Cake. Ever.

It's been a long time since I've made a cake from scratch.  I had fond memories of Mom making a red Waldorf Astoria cake (aka Red Velvet Cake) for Valentine's Day when I was very small.  She used heart-shaped pans.  It was my favorite cake!

I know I made the recipe a time or two as a teenager/young adult, because there's red food coloring spilled all over my recipe.  So I was pretty confident that this cake would be fabulous.  Ha!  Fate had other plans.

First of all, I'd seen a recipe variation called Pink Velvet Cake.  I was intrigued, even though the recipes were quite different from mine.  So instead of buying red food coloring, I bought fuschia coloring.  Now, I know that fuschia is not pink.  But the color dot on top of the wee little bottle was a beautiful hot pink.  I imagined eating hot pink cake, and how Valentine-ey pretty that would be. 

My first surprise was that the fuschia food coloring made the cake batter look like muddy mulberries.  Not the bright, happy color I was going after.  Well.  The frosting would cover that up, though, right?

Nowhere close to hot pink.

I made the cooked part of the frosting, and even though the amount produced wasn't generous, I figured the second half that is added after the cooked part cools would make up for that in volume.  Again, not so much. 

This recipe has you slice each round layer in half horizontally.  I'd never done that before, but decided on a whim that having a four layer cake would be much prettier than just two fat layers slapped together.  Even if it was mulberry-colored!  It was a little nerve-wracking, but I managed to slice the 2 rounds without crumbling the now thin layers.  I wasn't sure how the layers should go together, though, and I found out the hard way that it's impossible to frost the cut side without getting crumbs in the frosting and using more frosting than I should have done, especially since I KNEW that I didn't have a lot to begin with.

So, I finished frosting up the mulberry wonder- almost.  I completely ran out of frosting before the top was covered (the photo I took conceals this somewhat, although just looking at this makes me giggle- SO ugly!).

Is this not the cobbiest frosting job you've ever seen?

But the real stinger was that once I sat down to eat a slice, I found that it was so sweet that I didn't like it. This is the red velvet cake I remembered as a kid, but as an adult I just can't handle the sugar level!  So, I'm only calling this recipe an "Oops" because of the weird color. I might make this again in cupcake or sheetcake form, just because it's hard to do portion control on a 4 layer cake- you have to cut the slice big enough that it will hold together long enough for you to shift it to a serving plate. 

Anyway, if you just can't get enough of the sweet stuff, here's the recipe.  I did change one thing.  The original recipe called for a whole bottle of red food coloring, which is just overkill.  I had gel coloring, and I used a generous tablespoon.  But if you want to use liquid food color, I think 1 ounce would be a great plenty. 

Mulberry deliciousness, unless you're prone to sugar comas.

Red Velvet Waldorf Astoria Cake

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup Crisco
2 eggs
1 ounce red food coloring (original recipe calls for 2 ounces)
2 heaping tablespoons cocoa
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 1/2 cups flour

1.  Cream sugar, eggs and Crisco.  Add all other ingredients except flour and mix well. Mix in flour little by little until all is absorbed into the batter.

2.  Bake in two layer cake pans at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  When completely cool, split each layer horizontally to make four layers.

Red Velvet Waldorf Astoria Cake Frosting (doubled recipe)

6 tablespoons flour
2 cups whole milk
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups butter

1.  Cook flour and milk in a double boiler until thick, stirring constantly.  Let cool completely.

2.  Cream sugar, butter, and vanilla until very fluffy. Blend in the cooled cooked mixture, then add a little more milk if necessary until the frosting is the thickness of whipped cream.  Frost between cake layers and on top (no frosting for the sides of the cake). 

Remember, arrange the layers so that you aren't frosting the cut side! You'll have a much easier time.

Note:  This frosting must be refrigerated, or the butter will separate out.  So plan on having enough space in your refrigerator to store the frosted cake.


  1. Anonymous9:38 AM CST

    Too funnny! Makes my teeth hurt hearing you describe it. It doesn't look THAT bad! lol I am guessing that if your work-mates got this cake at break, they would eat it frosting and fushia cake in less than 30 minutes! I know my employees scarfed down what I considered horribly overdone cookies (almost, but not quite burnt). You deserve an "A" for effort! But not the trough-worthy rating you were going for! Keep on cooking!

  2. It's true enough about the work-mates. They can be real scavengers. Once two sheet pans of brownies disappeared in about 5 minutes. :)