Art Imitates Life - Change and Red Velvet Cake


My goal today was to make a Red Velvet cake with a kick of spice. This cake was important to me as it symbolized my last cake in my beautiful kitchen (more on that in a minute).  I love my kitchen and have made so many of these treats in it.  I envisioned a beautiful red velvet cake with a surprise kick of cinnamon and pepper.  I got the inspiration for this from a candy bar my father-in-law enjoys. It is a chocolate candy bar with a hint of spice and pepper. I thought this would be a great addition to a red velvet cake, with the cream cheese serving to cool down the heat.  The spice to the cake was going to be further masked by soft, pretty decorations.  I wanted to mimic a cake I had recently seen with layers of beautiful ruffles.  Every detail of the cake, and corresponding blog post, had been planned for weeks in my head.  I wanted this cake to be exactly as I pictured. It was a celebration of the end of a wonderful time in our lovely home.  In reality?  Everything seemed to go wrong...

The cake I envisioned was a tall, full cake. But I didn't have enough ingredients to make a full batch, and had to half it.  The flavor of the pepper didn't come out as well as I envisioned.  I was so worried about being heavy handed, that I didn't put a lot in.  Somehow in my rushing, I also didn't get enough spray in and a major portion of the bottom of the cake stuck when I tried to get it out.  

To make matters worse, I had made these rows of beautiful ruffles similar to what I planned.  But since the cake wasn't tall enough, they wouldn't work.  I couldn't even level the cake as it had begun to crack.  Even the icing had its problems! The cream cheese icing wasn't as sweet as I wanted, and did not set as well as my buttercream, so it was not smooth and uneven. I was getting very frustrated, and about to just give up.  After a few minutes, I calmed down and decided to change my plan on what the cake should look and taste like.  

Instead of the soft, beautiful ruffles, I decided to cut them apart and make a scaled ruffle look for around the edge of the cake.  I used a strip of fondant to cover the top edge of the cake and help it hold its shape and even out.  The imperfections and cracks on top were masked by some small flowers I cut out.  I also created a large fondant daisy to tie it all in and cover up the crease of the fondant.  When I stepped back and looked at it, I kind of liked it.  It was so far from what I envisioned, but it had its own style. The cake has a very 1920's, almost flapper feel to it.  It is definitely not what I expected, or imagined, but in the end it is a beautiful cake.  Even the flavor was better than I originally thought.  True the flavor isn't a pop of heat, but there is an essence of the pepper and a bit of an aftertaste that lets you know its there. The icing wasn't as sweet as canned cream cheese frosting, but it was a perfect pairing to the red velvet recipe.  I have a hard time finding red velvet recipes I like, and as I tasted it all together I knew I would definitely make this again!

As I set there eating my piece of cake, I couldn't help but smile at how art was imitating life.  Right now my husband and I are going through an unexpected transition in our lives.  Just five short months ago, we bought a beautiful house.  It was the first home for both of us and we talked for hours about making it a home and how our lives would play out.  We envisioned spending years in this wonderful home. He loved his job and we both loved the area, so we saw no reason to leave. That is until my husband was laid off from his job unexpectedly.  Having just gotten married and bought a house, we felt like a rug had been pulled out from underneath us.  All our plans and dreams for the future seemed to become unraveled. I understood we still had a lot to be thankful for, and knew so many people going through so much more painful and serious situations.  But for us, it was a rough period of time.  We were shocked, disappointed, and uncertain about the future.  Could he find a job he enjoyed as well?  Would we have to leave the area?

Eventually though, things have turned around and we are now about to embark on a new journey.  My husband and I are selling our house and moving to a new state, as he has found a great new job that he is truly excited about.  It's amazing how after many sleepless nights and tons of prayers and tears, things have worked out better than we could have imagined.  There are still a lot of uncertainties, including what job I will be able to get. But, we are excited about these new opportunities. Just like with the cake, things somehow have turned out better than expected.  It's not necessarily better/worse than before - just different. That cake seemed to be a total mess, but with a change of attitude and vision I was able to make something beautiful. This new situation might not be what we envisioned, but I have faith that God has a plan for us in this new chapter. 


Here's my recipe for my red velvet with a kick.  This recipe is an altered version of one found on the site, Moms Who Think.  I added the pepper/cinnamon and changed the amount of food coloring.

Red Velvet Ingredients:

  •  1 stick butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 oz red food coloring (add more if you want a more vibrant red)
  • 2 tbs cocoa
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (if you want to be adventurous, you may kick this up to a larger amount for more heat)
Red Velvet Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the butter (softened) and sugar.
  3. Continue beating mixture as you add eggs, one at a time.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa and red food coloring.
  5. Add the cocoa mixture and beat until blended.
  6. Alternately mix in portions of the buttermilk and flour.
  7. Beat in the vanilla, baking soda, cinnamon, and pepper.
  8. Pour into greased or sprayed pan.
  9. Depending on pan size, bake for around 25-35 minutes.  Check out this chart by Wilton which gives cups of batter, baking time and baking temperatures for various pan sizes. 
Cream Cheese frosting ingredients:
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2-3 cups powdered sugar
Cream Cheese frosting directions:
  1. Beat together cream cheese and butter (both at room temperature) until creamy.
  2. Add vanilla and mix well.
  3. Beat in small portions of the powdered sugar at a time.  
  4. After about 2 cups, taste the frosting. Continue adding powdered sugar until achieving the sweetness you want.
Thanks for reading this post, it is definitely one that means a lot to me.  I hope you enjoy this recipe!