Monday, April 19, 2010

Tweaking Tradition

I love being able to bring a new face and fresh perspective to the areas I work in these days. In fact, everything to do with my kitchen exploits in the past week or so has been all about putting the state of things in a new perspective. Between our constantly changing inventory at the Club (including both massive shortages and gluts of things!), coming back from a week off to a failing freezer and a waiting delivery truck at the retirement home, vacation tickets still "in the mail" (with our departure date only two weeks away!) and my absolute inability to locate the key ingredient for my favourite after-dinner dessert, flexibility has become somewhat of a religion!

Of course, the road is a whole lot smoother when you add a decent dose of sugar to the mix - and who doesn't like a good red velvet cake once in a while?? I jazzed up the standard recipe while I was playing around at co-op, trying to use up some withering bananas and a not-so-small glut of cream cheese (oh, only 10 kilos!). I wound up not only making a banana and cream cheese filling / glaze type of thing (it was too runny to be a proper frosting, but I stuffed it in between the layers anyway!), but I also added some of the cream cheese to the batter in place of half the butter. The cake was definitely tipped in favour of the "chocolate" team of red velvets too, since I added chocolate soy milk, an extra tablespoon of cocoa powder, and a topping of semisweet chocolate chips!

Red Velvet Redux Cake
Serves 12
1/4 cup raw sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup cream cheese
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
3 tbsp red food colouring
1 tbsp water
3 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate soy milk
2 tbsp vinegar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour either two 9" cake pans or one large (9 x 13") pan.
  2. Cream sugars, butter and cream cheese until fluffy.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla, beat on high speed for 2 minutes.
  4. Make a paste of the food colouring, water and cocoa powder, add to above mixture, mixing well.
  5. In another bowl, whisk together flours and salt.
  6. Add dry ingredients, alternately with the soy milk, to the creamed mixture.
  7. Mix vinegar and baking soda to combine well (it will foam).
  8. Add to the batter, mixing in thoroughly but quickly.
  9. Pour into prepared pan(s), tap on the countertop to dislodge any large bubbles.
  10. Bake 30 minutes (for 9" pans), until cakes test done.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 225.1
Total Fat: 7.4 g
Cholesterol: 50.9 mg
Sodium: 55.6 mg
Total Carbs: 36.3 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.3 g
Protein: 5.4 g
The frosting, or glaze if you will, is one of those perfectly simple recipes that fits with so many other things that after a while it becomes ingrained in your memory. A recipe is almost unnecessary regardless, as the amount of sugar you wind up adding is directly poportional to the size and ripeness factor of the bananas you use. If you need to "tighten" up the frosting (which, when nice and thin, is perfect over ice cream!) without adding too much sugar, I suggest using a little bit of tapioca flour (not pearls!) to the mixture.

Sweet Banana - Cheese Filling
Serves 16
8 oz cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
2 medium, over-ripe bananas, pureed
1 tsp lemon juice
  1. Beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth, add bananas and lemon juice and beat well.
  2. Store in refrigerator.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 92.2
Total Fat: 5.0 g
Cholesterol: 15.6 mg
Sodium: 42.2 mg
Total Carbs: 11.3 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.3 g
Protein: 1.2 g