Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sweet Easter Sunday - Red Velvet Cake

HAPPY EASTER from our little family!!!!

This is a picture of us following our church's Easter service last night.  While we were enjoying an absolutely wonderful service, James was having an Easter egg hunt!  When we picked him up after, the children's ministry director told us that he was so excited about the eggs.  "Egg" is one of his favorite words right now.

And guess what?!  The Easter bunny came for this mommy!  I had no idea that he still visits grown-ups sometimes!  Look what he brought me:

Okay, so it wasn't really the Easter bunny, hehe.  As I was making a special Easter breakfast of biscuits and gravy, Chris brought me 4 12-packs of mini Cadbury eggs.  He said it was one egg for every day of my chocolate fast, and then some.  It was very sweet of him.  And the other assortment is from my friend Ashley who brought it to me last night at church.  Very sweet treats from sweet people.

Speaking of church, we had an incredible and moving Easter service.  I will never hear the song "Bleeding Love" in the same way.  Amazing.  Simply amazing.  After church, Chris, James, and I went to dinner at the Olive Garden with Ashley, her fiance Patrick, and their little boy who's a couple months younger than James, also named Patrick.  The boys had a blast laughing at each other, and at least 3 tables stopped by on their way out to say how much fun it was to watch them in action.

I've got to get to work on Easter dinner for us and Ashley's family (our tradition, which is roasted rack of lamb, hot cross buns, roasted garlic risotto, and corn on the cob), but I'll share the red velvet recipe with you now.  I'll update later tonight or tomorrow morning with a picture after we've cut into it in all its deliciousness.

Coming to the end of Lent and my chocolate fast, I knew I wanted to make a dessert for today with chocolate in it.  I asked Chris what he would like, and he selected one of his all-time favorite desserts - red velvet cake.  Now, this cake does not actually contain much chocolate (most recipes only call for a tablespoon of cocoa powder, I put in 2 because.... I just felt like it), but it is a fave around here.  I LOVE this recipe.  It is the only red velvet cake recipe I have ever made, and I have no desire to ever try another.  EVER.  It is that good.  If you're not one for cream cheese, sure you can go with a simple vanilla buttercream, but cream cheese icing is really where its at in our house.

For this icing, we really like it to have that tasty cream cheese tang, so I up the amount of that and decrease the butter a bit.  For us, it's perfect.  And you all know that I am ALL ABOUT vanilla, but I don't put any in the icing.  Feel free to play with the flavor as you like.  Here's the recipe:

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 bottle red food coloring (if you want to achieve that rich red, I didn't have it today, so my cake is not richly red, however it will still taste delicious!)

2 8-ounce blocks cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar

To make the cake:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line pans with parchment paper (you can do 3 9-inch layers for thinner layers, 2 9-inch layers for thicker, or 3 8-inch layers.  For today, I did 3 9-inch layers.  Alternatively, you can do cupcakes, but I can't remember how many this will make.)  This recipe is quite simple - sift the dry ingredients together (do not skip the sifting) in a small bowl.  In a separate large bowl, mix the wet ingredients on medium-low until combined.  Switch to low speed and add the dry ingredients slowly until combined.  Evenly divide your batter between the pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean or just with moist crumbs.  For me, 25 minutes was perfect.  Remove from oven to cooling racks.

While the cakes are cooling, make the icing.  Beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth.  Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time.  When you have added the 3 cups, if you want a thicker icing, you can always add more sugar, but I think the texture at this point is perfect.  When the cake layers are completely cool, you can assemble them simply by adding a layer of icing in between each cake layer and then icing your entire cake.

You do not have to refrigerate this cake, but do keep it in an airtight container.  Our personal taste is that we prefer the taste of cold red velvet cake, but the sugar in the icing will act as a preservative for the cream cheese, so it's at your preference.

I hope that your Easter weekend is perfect, that you get to enjoy it with those you love, and honestly, I hope that you are in a place where you can appreciate the significance.  At this time in my life, the Lord has never been more real to me.  The things I have gone through in the past 5 or so years, both as consequences to my own actions and otherwise, the things I have experienced... somehow He has been with me, with us, all the while.  And I finally really believe that nothing I do will separate me from His love.  I really, truly accept it and feel it in my soul.  And I hope you have that same peace today too.

Recipe adapted from Apple A Day

Update! - Here's pictures from our evening of yummy, yummy food!

roasted rosemary rack of lamb

hot cross bun loaf

hot cross buns with raisins

plain hot cross buns

red velvet cake!


And that's that!  And the risotto that you can't see well in the picture with the lamb?  IT.  WAS.  TO.  DIE.  FOR.