Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Red Rouge

These past few days, I've been seeing red.
Red ripe juicy strawberries from the Durham Farmers' Market.
Red chicken combs in Dave's flock at Elodie Farms.
Red Apples to Apples card.  Interesting one, huh?
Red roses in bloom all over town right now, this one at Elodie Farms.
Red beer tent from Fullsteam.
No red beer, but a nice cold one on a hot day fetched just for me by the Ex-Ex so we could explore Dave's farm.
Red cherry tomatoes (or maybe grape tomatoes?) in the salad prepared by Jean-y.  Seriously good salad (still waiting for the poppyseed dressing recipe, girlfriend...)

Red book!!  About Paris, no less.
I saw an article about this book in The Independent, a weekly newspaper here in the Triangle. 

Think that cover caught my attention??
Rosecrans Baldwin spent 18 months living in Paris and then came home to write about the experience, calling it Paris,  I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down.

Trust me, if you love stories about Paris and good writing, you will love this one.  He read a couple of excerpts from the book at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill and really had me laughing at the story, the storytelling, and the storyteller. 
His love of France began while he was enrolled in 7th grade French.  Pay attention, mes élèves.  This may happen to you, too.
The BFF, Arles Lucy, and I had a great time.  I love to drag others along on my adventures.
We ate personal pizzas at Foster's Market, right next door before the reading.  I took no photos...  But trust me, the Frenchie pizza, with grilled ratatouille vegetables, garlic olive oil, and chèvre was délicieuse.
And last but not least, rounding out my tribute to rouge, is the Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake that one of my advisees made and brought to school. 

This year, I have an amazingly talented trio of 7th grade boys who like to bake.  Pies, cheesecakes, cupcakes, red velvet cake...

This is quite possibly the best cake I have ever put in my mouth.
Try it.  See for yourself.
You might see red, too.  But in a good way, bien sûr.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake
from RecipeGirl

12-14 servings


Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Red Velvet Cake:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups vegetable or canola oil
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup (two 1-ounce bottles) red food coloring
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. white vinegar

Cream Cheese Frosting:
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted lightly to remove any lumps
Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

Prepare the cheesecake layer:  Preheat oven to 325˚F.  Place a large roasting pan on the lower third rack of the over.  Place a kettle of water on the stove to boil.  Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.  Wrap a double layer of foil around the bottom and up the sides of the pan (you want to seal it so that water from the water bath doesn't seep into the pan).  In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to mix the cream cheese. Blend until it is nice and smooth and creamy.  Mix in sugar and salt and blend for 2 minutes, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed.  Add eggs, one at a time, blending after each addition.  Finally, mix in sour cream, whipping cream, and vanilla.  Mix until smooth.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Set the pan into the roasting pan in the preheated oven.  Carefully pour the hot water from your kettle into the roasting pan (it will fill the pan surrounding the cheesecake).  Pour enough water so that there is about an inch of water coming up the foil along the sides of the cheesecake pan.  Bake the cheesecake for 45 minutes.  It should be set to the touch and not jiggly.  Remove the cheesecake from the roasting pan and let it cool on a wire rack for at least an hour.  When it has cooled, place the pan into the freezer and let the cheesecake freeze completely.  This can be done in several hours or overnight.

Prepare the cake layers:  Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Grease and flour two 9-inch round metal baking pans (or spray with nonstick baking spray with flour).  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla, and vinegar to the flour mixture.  Using an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat for 1 minute, until blended.  Scrape sides and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula.  Beat on high for 2 minutes.  Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pans, dividing equally.  Bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.  Let cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Run a knife around the edge of the pans, then invert cakes onto a rack to cool completely.

Prepare the frosting: In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat powdered sugar, cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until it is smooth and creamy (do not overbeat).

Assemble the cake:  Place one cake layer into the center of a cake plate or platter.  Remove the cheesecake from the freezer, take off the sides of the pan, and slide a knife under the parchment to remove the cheesecake from the pan.  Peel off the parchment.  Measure your cheesecake layer against the cake layers.  If the cheesecake layer turns out to be slightly larger round than your cake, move it to a cutting board and gently shave off some of the exterior of the cheesecake to get it to the same size as your cake layers.  Place the cheesecake layer on top of the first cake layer.  Place the 2nd cake layer on top of the cheesecake.

Frost the cake:  Apply a crumb-coat layer to the cake-- use a long, thin spatula to cover the cake completely with a thin layer of frosting.  Be sure to wipe off your spatula each time you are about to dip it back into the bowl to get more frosting (this way you won't be transferring any red crumbs into the bowl of frosting).  Don't worry at this point about the crumbs being visible in the frosting on the cake.  When your cake has a thin layer of frosting all over it, place it into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to "set" the frosting.  Once the first layer of frosting is set, apply the second layer.  Start by adding a large scoop of frosting onto the top of the cake.  Use a long, thin spatula to spread the frosting evenly across the top and then spread it down the sides of the cake, too.  Because you applied a crumb-coat layer, you shouldn't have any red crumbs floating around in the final frosting.  Decorate as desired.**  Keep this cake refrigerated.  If you are serving it at a party, it's okay to leave it at room temperature for an hour or so while serving.  Otherwise, keep it in the refrigerator.  It freezes perfectly and thaws quickly.

**RecipeGirl suggests white chocolate shavings.   To make these, purchase a hunk of white chocolate.  Microwave the chocolate to soften it up slightly (15 to 30 seconds, depending on the size).  Use a potato peeler to run down the side of the chocolate to create shards/shaves/curls of white chocolate.  "I like to shave it onto a paper plate and then just use the plate to slide the chocolate onto the top of the cake."

My 7th grade boy used red sprinkles.  Very pretty.

See RecipeGirl for credits.

Bon appétit, young bakers and all things rouge!

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