The plan was simple. In retrospect, that should have raised a red flag. In the Viertel Family, it’s never simple. Never.
Anyway, April is a birthday month around here. Sunday, was Alissa’s big day, and Harry’s closes out the month. As we got to planning things out, they both decided they wanted red velvet cakes. That was easy enough. I’d make each of them a red velvet cake. It even worked out that I was not on the schedule to work at H&R Block on Saturday.
Well, I consulted recipes and made lists and did the shopping, and everything was going great. It was going great until I started cooking. Specifically, the problem was that I had not paid attention to the amount of red food coloring I needed. It turns out that the recipe called for two ounces of food coloring to be mixed into a paste with cocoa powder. I was making two cakes of two layers each because our plans called for the cake to be eaten at an Easter Party for seventeen people. So I needed four ounces of food coloring.
I had slightly less than two.
Specifically, I had two assorted packs of food coloring. Each pack had a quarter ounce each of red, yellow, blue and green food coloring, and the red from one pack had been largely depleted last year in an attempt to turn Harry’s pink egg red.
What to do? What to do?
Well, I was concerned about the moisture content brought by the food coloring, as that seemed important to the velvet element of the cake. As a result, the idea of just leaving out the color was unacceptable.
Well, one cake got all the red food coloring and the rest of one assortment. The other got just blue, green and yellow. In both cases, I made up the moisture deficit with water.
The first cake had batter the color of asphalt. The second was a deep, primeval green, reminiscent of swamps and decay more than forests and grass. But Alissa and I both sampled the batter, and the texture and flavor were right on target, so I went ahead and baked them.
And so, I present to you, red velvet cake, Viertel style.
I was concerned about the moisture content, but the results seemed to meet with general acclaim. At least folks were asking for seconds, so it couldn’t have been too bad.