In honour of the Christmas season, I decided to create a “present” cake for some family members for an annual Christmas gathering. After some careful thought, I finally decided on something simple – a two tiered square cake design, made to look like presents stacked one on top of each other. Simple, right?
So what cakes to make? Well since it is Christmas, the first thing that comes to mind is the colour red … and of course Red Velvet Cake follows closely behind in that thought.
I, by no means, hesitate at making a cake from scratch and would do so if I had the time. However, I’m a procrastinator at heart and left this little project until 10:00 pm – which has become my usual baking hour lately. So with that said, I love looking out for EASY recipes to help my life a little bit. One of my favourites being a great Red Velvet recipe I found years ago on the internet. The procrastinator in me loves that this recipe cheats by using a cake mix from a box, and unless you actually tell someone – you can’t really tell that it’s made from a mix (okay, I’m assuming that you can’t tell or else everyone is really really polite to me). The recipe is as follows:
Easy Red Velvet Cake:
- 1 box white cake mix (2 layer size)
- 1 box instant vanilla instant pudding
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 ounces red food colouring
- cream cheese frosting
Mix the above ingredients for 4 minutes on medium speed. Grease and flour cake pans. Bake at 350 for 20 – 25 minutes or until done. Cool cake.
Easy peasy, right? Mix the ingredients together with red dye (I love the Wilton’s red gel with no taste, because it’s a concentration of RED colour … Red velvet is red, not pink – which I have done in the past and was really annoyed by the finished result, but that’s just me) Anyways, mixing in the red glob of dye into the cake batter will initially result into something that looks like it was pulled straight out of a horror movie – have no fear, keep mixing until it’s all uniform and eventually it will look like this.
To add variety, I made the top-tier with a Butter Pecan cake mix. Nothing fancy, just straight from the box. After the cakes (4 sheets in total) were made, cooled on the rack and crumb coated with a thin layer of frosting, it’s time to move on to the fondant. I actually like working with fondant. It reminds me of being a kid and playing with Play-Dough (except now you can eat it). However today this proved to be more finicky than usual.
See the cracks and pulls? The fondant is too dry and I think I rolled it to thin. For awhile I truly believed that if I kept running my hands over it, it would eventually smooth over. After a few minutes of doing that, with no results – I half hoped it would, even though I knew better, I finally admitted defeat, and found that it was easier to just pull everything off and start all over again. Sigh….
Onto a clean slate, and everything is looking much better now. My favourite design detail has to be the bow. 5 pieces of fondant cut into stripes: 2 for loops, 1 for the bow centre and 2 for the bow ends. (There is a great how-to technique from Cake Central on how to make beautiful pouffy bows – which is what I originally had in mind, but went for the traditional bow look.)
My finishing touch was the tag and the curlies (thin stripes of fondant swirled around a chopstick and left out to dry). The tag I just wrote on with a black gourmet pen … and voila!
And there you go, “Presents” ready for under the tree or the dessert table….