COOKING ADVENTURE #78: Ghost-Themed Red-Velvet Cake
Oooooooo! What do we have here? A rogue Cooking Adventure after several months without one. For that, you have my sincerest apologies. All I can say as that I’ve had a pretty full schedule. But now that things are finally starting to slow down, I’m intending to get back into my “one new recipe a week” routine. This week, since Halloween is right around the corner, I decided to get together with Cooking Adventure vetran, Celena, and do yet another one of our stupendous cakes. This time, though, we got some frightful inspiration from this boo-tiful cake made by Martha Stewart. Though I had every intention of making the cake just as big and glorious as Ms. Stewart’s, we were unable to because of some crippling ingredient-missing happenstances. And let’s not forget the marshmallows. Tasty little suckers that they are, they are not the most cooperative treats. It’s almost as if they were really possessed.
On a dark and windy night, one of my best friends, Celena, joined me to partake in this year’s co-op Cooking Adventure. Days ago, while searching Pinterest for just the right recipe, I happened across the wonderful cake and knew that it would be just right. A mutual friend made a comment that the ghosts looked like the creepy little adipose characters from that one Doctor Who episode that made me eternally afraid of the Pillsbury Dough Boy. With that frightening thought in mind, my friend and I threw on some fitting Halloween music and set to work on constructing the cake.
The most time-consuming portion of this recipe came with baking the cake which takes a half an hour. The original recipe makes it from scratch but (of course) that would take a ridiculously long time and wasn’t conducive to our plans. I bought a couple boxed mixes for the occassion, one vanilla cake and one red velvet. Notice I said “a couple”. I had originally intended to make two cakes… or a double-decker cake if you’d prefer. The problem here was that I neglected to make sure I had enough vegetable oil for both (I barely had enough for the one). Deciding that red velvet would be more fitting, we chose to do that cake mix. Mixing 1/2 cup of vegetable oil, 1 1/4 cups of water, and three eggs together with the cake mix gave us our crimson batter, quite fitting for a ghost cake. One of the eggs had some strange purple looking veins showing from beneath the shell. I was immediately reminded of an old R.L. Stine Goosebumps book depicting evil alien eggs. And while I was reluctant to crack it open, we found that there was absolutely nothing strange about the egg inside.
After Celena had mixed the batter, we found a 9 inch round cake pan to pour the batter into. On the box, it says to pour it into two 9 inch round pans which I didn’t really understand. It didn’t seem like there was enough batter to be able to even coat two cake pans, much less fill them. Of course, once the cake was in the oven, it quickly puffed up to a monstrous size with a peak on top. Of course, we were in the other room watching “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and were completely unaware of this until it was time for it to come out of the oven a half an hour later. I checked it with a toothpick and it came up bloodied, as if I’d stabbed a living galette through the heart. I put it back in for another five minutes and that seemed like just enough time to let whatever gelatinous interior set up.
After allowing the cake to cool, we came to yet another difficult part of the recipe, removing the cake from the pan. Granted, this is where hindsight always gets the better of me. I’d oiled the bottom of the pan but I had forgotten to coat it with flour. I ALWAYS forget to do that. So, we were relegated to fiddling with the pan with a knife for a while before we could plop the cake out onto a plate, and once we did, it was upside down. Flip-flopping it between two plates, eventually set it right. The domed-top had collapsed slightly but there was still a hill-side quality to our cake that unbeknownst to us at that moment, would cause an issue later.
While I frosted the cake with thick vanilla frosting, Celena set to work on creating our ghost-adipose creatures. Using some vanilla frosting as glue, she stuck two (and even three at one point) regular marshmallows together and then added chocolate sprinkles for the eyes. Or at least attempted to. The sprinkles didn’t stay very well, occasionally popping out onto the cake batter and frosting-smeared stove top. Each marshmallow creature received a mini-marshmallow hat and a little Alfalfa dollop of frosting on top. Once we’d made several ghosts of varying heights, including some made entirely of mini-marshmallows, it was time to place them on the cake.
Here was where the hill became a problem. When Celena tried to put down the tallest of our ghosts, he started to fall backward (he was top-heavy)! I thought sticking candles in as supports would do the trick but unfortunately, all it did was make him look like he was at the center of some kind of confectionery devil worship. Celena came up with the brilliant solution to cut out small circles in the cake for the marshmallows to rest in. This solved the problem, although some still had to have candle supports.
Finally, our cake was done. Against the backdrop of one of my black t-shirts, we shot our pictures and then indulged in our creations. Of course, it’s cake, so it’s automatically delicious. And red velvet cake is especially wonderful. With another Halloween Cooking Adventure under our belts, we resolved to doing a Thanksgiving-themed adventure next month (though probably not a turkey as we’d more than likely burn down the apartment).
Stay tuned for an epic apple pie recipe on next week’s Cooking Adventure!