It was such a bittersweet weekend over at La Bouche. I consider this blog to be a reflection of my family of friends, and without them, there would be no one to cook for, and surely no one to make fun of either. As secret agent Sarah and I sat in the kitchen, cooking together for the last time in our green apartment, baking our last cake together, my heart felt completely swollen and raw.
I’m not great at goodbyes. I cry uncontrollably, and I usually make a really ugly face that can be confused with terror. It looks like someone took the ice cream sandwich out of a kids’ hand. That’s really the only way to describe it. Anyway, sitting there with Sarah, on the other side of that kitchen island for the last time, it took everything I had not to put her in a pressure canner and save the memory.
Sitting there waiting for the cake to come out of the oven, I thought about the family dinners that were to come, without Sarah. The conversations that will lead to inside jokes, without Sarah. The glasses of wine that turn into bottles, without Sarah. The hugs at the end of the night, missing one, Sarah. My heart is so full that it hurts. So what does a girl do when her heart breaks, literally aches for her friend who feels more like a sister than a friend at all?
She bakes. She bakes her other best friend a ‘be my Maid (ahem matron) of Honor’ cake. A “you have stood beside me through the test of time, bull, and tears so now stand beside me while I sweat and cry and marry this man” cake. Sarah sat with me, until it was done. Making sure the icing tasted right, and making sure we drained the bottle properly. Making sure I felt like I had adequate time to let go, like a good friend does.
And so when Kelley saw the cake, she cried. I cried. When Sarah left for the last time on Friday night, she cried. I cried. And tonight I will go home, look at that half eaten cake, think of how it was made, who it was made with and for, and I will cry. I didn’t even try a bite. I have no idea what it tastes like. I just know that it’s waiting there for me, like a good friend always is.
I used Cakeman Raven’s recipe. I am not sure that I am mad for it. I do know the icing is good, because it always is. I don’t really care what it tastes like, it was made with absolute love.
Red Velvet Cake
Vegetable oil for the pans
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons red food coloring (1 ounce)
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe follows
Crushed pecans, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil and flour 3 (9 by 1 1/2-inch round) cake pans.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In another large bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla.
Using a standing mixer, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and a smooth batter is formed.
Divide the cake batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Place the pans in the oven evenly spaced apart. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through the cooking, until the cake pulls away from the side of the pans, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
Remove the cakes from the oven and run a knife around the edges to loosen them from the sides of the pans. One at a time, invert the cakes onto a plate and then re-invert them onto a cooling rack, rounded-sides up. Let cool completely.
Frost the cake. Place 1 layer, rounded-side down, in the middle of a rotating cake stand. Using a palette knife or offset spatula spread some of the cream cheese frosting over the top of the cake. (Spread enough frosting to make a 1/4 to 1/2-inch layer.) Carefully set another layer on top, rounded-side down, and repeat. Top with the remaining layer and cover the entire cake with the remaining frosting. Sprinkle the top with the pecans.
1 pound cream cheese, softened
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup), softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand-held electric mixer in a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, sugar, and butter on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high, and mix until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. (Occasionally turn the mixer off, and scrape the down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.)
Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Add the vanilla, raise the speed to high and mix briefly until fluffy (scrape down the bowl occasionally). Store in the refrigerator until somewhat stiff, before using. May be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days.
Yield: enough to frost a 3 layer (9-inch) cake
She said yes, by the way.
Here is hoping you have friends like mine, they are truly, the greatest kind.