My boss, let's call him Dr. Bacon, completely missed out on his birthday cake this week.
If you're a longtime reader, you may recall that the one we did last year was the chocolate bacon cake. Well, this one wasn't half so crazy, but it was still sort of cute and appropriate to the recipient.
I blame the dentist. After a vicious morning root canal, Dr. Bacon wasn't up for work, or cake, or even consciousness, I'd wager. Too bad.
We ate up the red velvet pig on his behalf. Piggy wasn't willing to hang around waiting.
His frosting isn't perfect (but maybe that gives him character?), and yes... the eyes, hooves and snout are paper cut-outs, (which is kind of cheating), but I still think he's rather charming.
He certainly looked very cool after we divided him into pieces. Some gleefully went for pieces of the pork belly. Others claimed the ham, or the loin. I went after one of the tasty trotters.
I think my favorite aspect of red velvet cake is the cream cheese frosting, and since I use less sugar than most people, mine is still a bit more cream-cheese tangy and not eye-poppingly sweet. That said, if you love the super-sweet frosting, by all means... double or even triple the confectioners' sugar in this recipe.
Red Velvet Sheet Cake (Makes one 13" x 9" cake)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk (or 3/4 cup plain yogurt and 1/4 cup water or milk)
2 tbsp (1 oz) red food color
1 tsp white vinegar (raspberry vinegar is also nice)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
For the frosting:
1 8oz package cream cheese, softened
4 tbsp butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped pecans (optional, for garnish)
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 13" x 9" baking pan.
2. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add in the eggs and vanilla, beating well.
3. In a separate bowl, blend the buttermilk and food color.
4. Sift the flour, cocoa, salt and soda, then add this dry blend to the butter mixture, alternating with additions of the buttermilk mixture. Mix out any lumps, but don't over-beat.
5. Stir in the vinegar, and pour the batter into the prepared pan.
6. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center of the comes out clean. When done, remove the pan from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
7. Make the frosting by blending together the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla extract. When smooth and creamy, smooth it across the surface of the cake. Top with chopped pecans, if desired.
To make the pig shape, I cut out a cardboard template and made a home-made pan by wrapping it with aluminum foil. And no, it didn't catch on fire in the oven, but you could just as easily (and probably more safely) get the same effect by cutting hooves, an ear and a snout out of the cake after it cools.
The lack of curly tail was noted, and if we'd been prepared, I think we might have inserted a twisted piece of ropey red liquorice or a slice of curly fried bacon.
Alas, the pig went without a tail, Mr. Bacon went without cake and the dentist ran away with the tooth.
But you know, that's how some days go down. At such times, all we can do is hope that tomorrow offers better prospects for healthy teeth, proud tails and tender slices of cake.