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“Red” Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
you might as well find something else to do today.
(yes, I know it’s purple-ish. It’s as undecided as all of these other states. Contested Velvet Cake, Undeclared Velvet Cake, Non-Partisan Velvet Cake, I Can’t Stop Hitting Refresh Velvet Cake?)
Things you’ll need: Cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder, buttermilk, eggs, vegetable oil, white vinegar, more vanilla, and preferably red food coloring. Also maybe a calculator, lorazepam, and/or a warm bath with no internet access.
To be clear, to repeat, so there is no doubt in anyone’s mind: this is not going to go as planned.
Having woken up on Wednesday morning, spooning an empty bottle of wine and bolting upright only to find that very little has actually changed, understand that this is just another morning with your good friend uncertainty.
Choose to be optimistic, choose to wrestle with your incredulous outrage, choose to soak in your nihilistic pessimism, choose to obsessively math, and hit refresh every few hours until Friday. Reheat some pizza. You have plenty of time for mood swings today. Check-in with your friends while reading about cake and frosting. Maybe try to get some work done.
Inventory your kitchen’s dearth of cake tins, cupcake linings, and other objects typically used for baking. Note a strange surplus of pie pans, even though you have never rolled pastry or baked pie. Watch some news, listen to NPR, hit refresh on whatever soundless website you’ve selected.
Awkwardly sift some powdered sugar. Make a mess. Take your eggs, cream cheese, butter, and buttermilk out of the refrigerator because all the directions seem very concerned about the temperature of such things. Some butter should be soft, cream cheese should be “softened” or room temperature along with the buttermilk and the eggs.
Having read several recipes and articles, embroil yourself in the argument between vegetable oil and butter in a cake’s batter. Eventually side with vegetable oil because it’s already room temperature.
Look up and realize that several hours have passed and you have yet to mix anything together, although you have eaten breakfast (even though it was pizza). There’s powdered sugar everywhere, we still don’t know who the president will be, and you are doing the best that you can. Clean the kitchen.
After looking up the difference between room temperature and “Softened” butter, mix 8oz of “softened” cream cheese with one stick of “softened” butter and about 2 cups of VERY WELL-SIFTED powdered sugar. Then add a teaspoon or more of vanilla extract. Don’t over mix because that’s what the recipe says. You are tempted to add salt. You are pretty sure that you should have even though you don’t. Taste. Taste some more. Get out a spoon and really taste it.
Now that you have frosting, decide upon one 9” cake tin and on 9” round casserole dish because that’s what you have and you feel indignant about just using a sheet pan to make a basic sheet cake because you don’t want sheet cake, you want A CAKE.
Butter the inside of both “tins” and then dust with cocoa powder and make another mess. Get lost in the news again as they hesitantly call more states and then immediately clarify that a recount will be called and, therefore, we won’t know anything for sure until maybe almost December.
Somehow, it’s well-passed the morning now and you may need to start thinking about how to make dinner and a cake at the same time. So quickly sift together 1 ½ cups of sugar, 2 ½ cups of flour, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder.
Whisk up 1 ½ cups of vegetable oil with 1 cup (room temperature) buttermilk, 2 large (room temperature) eggs, 1-2 teaspoons of vanilla, and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar. Now add a fuckton (2 Tablespoons) of food coloring. Realize that you only have fuchsia food coloring so that’s what it’s gonna be.
Vaguely hear something about another state being called. Just brace and breathe. There are days to go. Right now, mix wet with dry and then split the batter between your two baking objects. Bake on 350 for 30 minutes-ish, rotating pans once in the middle because the internet said so. Clean the kitchen.
Drink water. Realize, too late, that you used baking powder instead of soda. Cry a little. Text some friends who tell you it’ll probably be “fine” and that’s what the news keeps saying, “everything might be fine” and you don’t feel fine and you have cocoa powder in your nose and the whole day is gone now.
After about 23 minutes and 15 emotional cycles, check and find that the normal cake pan is done, because a skewer goes in and comes out clean, while the casserole dish one looks like it is struggling and was maybe a terrible mistake. Take the one cake out to cool. Cross your fingers for the other one.
Start making soup for dinner.
Suddenly it’s 10 minutes later and the casserole baked cake is actually cooked! (Wow!) Take that out too. Let them both cool.
Continue making soup and cleaning the kitchen.
Once cool enough to handle, flip the pans like you see them do on the Great British Baking Show and set the cakes to rest. Everything you know about baking you’ve learned from that show. Try to watch that show. End up watching the news again.
Trim the cakes, which are dense but totally fine. Spread cream cheese frosting on top of one. Plop the other on top. Dollop and spread more frosting on top. Try to do the sides. Give up. Check on the soup.
The sun is setting, the soup is on the stove. Feel better than you did this morning, but far from the idea of relief. Keep reminding yourself that this will take a while. After all, it took 7 hours just to poorly bake a purple cake. Eat soup. Clean the kitchen. Take a bath. Get ready to wait. Sleep. Drink water. Have more cake for breakfast.