This post has been in draft for 3 days now… finally, found the time to post it.
It was KC’s b’day on 7th June’12. I have always tried to make each b’day special since we have started dating. I still remember in 2008, he was in Gurgaon around the b’day. His company had sent him for training here. Only problem was that he had to go to Baddi or some place like that on 7th June. I pleaded with him to return on 7th which he did despite all the traffic but at midnight. Technically, on 8th midnight. I had placed candles in the balcony, made lemon iced tea and arranged for a cake. It felt nice to do that.
But the best one was in 2009. I was in Gujarat and flying down to Mumbai. KC was in Mumbai itself. We were married but I used to stay in the company guesthouse when I came down twice in a month to Mumbai. Getting to work was more convenient and all my stuff was there. Also, I was not planning to move in with his parents so it made no sense to stay over. I had contacted his friends, his mom and arranged for cake. Everyone was going to surprise him at midnight. Once I landed at night, KC asked me to meet him for dinner. This was tricky. I had never refused to meet him and turning him down would have made him suspicious. If I did meet him, he would not go home before midnight and the plan would be screwed. It was tough call but I turned him down… told him I was exhausted and wanted to sleep. We were going to meet the next day anyway. At 10.30 pm, I bid him goodnight and pretended to be asleep. At 11 pm, I left for his house at Vashi and was met outside his house by his friends before midnight. We surprised him with the cake and he was pleasantly surprised. That was also the first time I spent the night at his house.
Last year, we didn’t do much since his b’day was on a weekday and we had decided to celebrate over the weekend. Our b’days are only 4 days apart so there is always the option of celebrating them together. This year, I decided to do the cliche… bake him a cake. I searched online and came across recipes of delicious chocolate cakes. It broke my heart that I could not make any of them ‘coz he is not very fond of chocolate. He likes fruit cakes like pineapple or mango or dry fruits. Blueberries oe strawberries were out. I came across the red velvet cake on Maria Gorreti’s blog. It also had cream cheese icing. Perfect. I have been meaning to try out cream cheese icing for months. The unsalted butter and cream cheese have been waiting in the fridge for 3 months now. It was decided then. The plan was to bake the cake on 5th late evening/night before he came home. I was thinking of cooling it and leaving it overnight at a friend’s place to keep the surprise. I was supposed to frost it on 6th evening/night before he came home from work and leave it at the friend’s place and pick it up around midnight.
The plan got screwed…
Here is the recipe:
2 1/2 cups (250 grams) sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons (15 grams) regular or Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated white sugar
1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk
2 tablespoons liquid red food coloring
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven.
Butter two – 9 inch (23 cm) round cake pans and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl sift the flour, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside.
In bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until soft (about 1-2 minutes). Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.
In a measuring cup whisk the buttermilk with the red food coloring. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk to the butter mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.
In a small cup combine the vinegar and baking soda. Allow the mixture to fizz and then quickly fold into the cake batter.
Working quickly, divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans and smooth the tops with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 25 – 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 – 8 ounce (227 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
1 – 8 ounce (227 grams) tub of Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (115 grams) confectioners’ (icing or powdered) sugar, sifted
1 1/2 (360 ml) cups cold heavy whipping cream (double cream)
In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese andmascarpone cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla and confectioners sugar and beat until smooth. Using the whisk attachment, gradually add the heavy cream and whip until the frosting is thick enough to spread. Add more sugar or cream as needed to get the right consistency.
Mistake I made:
- Put the batter in one pan instead of two ‘coz it could fit into one pan.
- Followed the gm measurements instead of using cups. I have a glass which can be used as a weight for different ingredients- water, maida, sugar etc. Has always worked for me. Not this time though.
The cake was cooked on the outside and bubbling under the surface. I threw it away and started on another one with a different but similar recipe. This cake turned out to be perfect. I used 2 tins- heart shaped and round shape. I don’t have 2 of the same kind. In between, while pre heating my microwave for the 2nd time it conked off. No kidding. It has happened before but works fine once it cools. I waited for an hour for it to cool and then put the cakes in with fingers and toes crossed. By then it was 11 pm. Thankfully, the cakes turned out well but KC was home and well aware about the goings on. It is very difficult to surprise someone you live with.
If the 2nd cakes would have been a disaster I would have been up baking next day at 6 am to avoid excess work in the evening.
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 cups of sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 1/2 tbsp liquid red food coloring
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp cider vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour 2 or 3 round 9″ cake pans.
Sift flour and salt together, set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Mix until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Mix well after each addition. Add the flour mixture to the bowl alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Blend in vanilla.In a small bowl, mix the 1 1/2 tbsp red food coloring and 1 tbsp cocoa powder until a paste forms. Add to the sugar and butter mixture. Mix well. In a small bowl or condiment cup, stir together the baking soda and cider vinegar. This will foam and should be put into the batter immediately after well mixed. After adding the foam mixture, blend on medium-high speed until batter is consistent.
Spoon batter evenly into pans – batter will be very thick! Level top of batter with an offset spatula. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
I used cups for measurement and used 2 pans this time. It worked. Below is the cake- nice and red.
The cream cheese frosting was perfect for it since the cake was sweet and the cheesy, not so sweet frosting balanced that. A regular frosting would be a bad idea with this. And here is the final cake:
I used red readymade icing (or is it marzipan) in a tube for the decorations. Too tacky, I know. I do not like marzipan and will avoid it in the future.
- It is impossible to surprise someone you live with
- Baking is about rules and not about being creative. Follow the recipe 100%. If it says- pee before baking; then pee. Don’t ask questions. Just follow directions.