I really shouldn't bake on Mondays. It's my first day off after a whole week of graveyard shifts. So I
get off work at 7am, sleep 3-4 hours, then get up and attempt to be a mom. My poor kid knows to tread lightly with me on those days because patience runs thin... and I'm a bit (lot) scatterbrained and clumsy. Point being, I tend to make annoying mistakes when I'm exhausted.
Mistakes like making 2 huge batches of cake batter to make 9 tiny heart cakes for my son's class Valentine's Day party.
I honestly don't know what I was thinking.
My grand plan was to use some cute little silicone mini-heart cake pans that I'd found, and to swirl red and white cake batter together in each one. So the logical thing to do would be to make a batch of white cake batter , separate it into two bowls, add red food coloring to one, swirl it and call it done. That would have been the easy thing to do. But what did I actually do?
I made white cake batter. And I made red velvet cake batter. And, on both, I used a doctored cake mix recipe that makes each batch the equivalent of about 1.5 regular cake mixes. (The link to the recipe is posted at the bottom)
So I had what amounted to batter for 3 large cakes, when in reality I only needed about half of one.
I realized my mistake when I finished filling the little pans and it looked like I hadn't even made a dent in either bowl of batter. Fail!!!
Not wanting all of that delicious batter to go to waste, I decided to make 2 other cakes with it. The beauty of it is, they are all crazy simple.
Cake batter: Part one
Silicone baking pans are incredible. You can make adorable little shapes, and with less effort than normal cake pans or cupcakes. You don't have to deal with paper baking cups, lining pans with parchment, greasing or buttering & flouring pans, or using that nasty non-stick spray that inevitably gets everywhere. The cake literally just pops out. Rad.
So I poured some white cake batter into these little heart cake pans (see amazon affiliate link at the bottom if you want to take a looksie) and put some dots of red on top, then swirled it all together with a toothpick.
Prior to putting them into the oven, I put the silicone pans on a baking sheet. They're really wobbly and, knowing me, I'd have some sort of cake dropping fiasco if I didn't.
Being unsure of how long to bake them, I just eyeballed it. I turned my oven light on and waited until they looked the right color and weren't bubbling & moving. I think it ended up being about 20 minutes at 325.
Afterward, I let them cool in the pans and popped them out onto a wire rack to get extra cool.
I kept the decorations simple. This particular pan leaves a heart shaped indentation in the middle of each cake, so I figured I'd just put a little something in that. My reasons were threefold:
1) The last thing my son and his classmates need is a ton of frosting. His teacher would murder me, and would be justified in doing so.
2) I wanted the swirl pattern to show, since I'd made 72 gallons of cake batter to make it happen.
3) I wanted to go to bed. Quick and easy was appealing.
Plus, a glaze really is easy. Dump some powdered sugar in a bowl and add a little milk and vanilla. You don't need much liquid - a little bit goes a LONG way. The hardest part is being patient while you stir a lot (I just use a fork) and get the liquid to disperse into the sugar. Once it does, you can very slowly add more milk until its the consistency you want. If you accidentally add too much milk, you can always put some more powdered sugar in to thicken it.
So I put my glaze into a disposable pastry bag and cut a small hole into the bottom so that I could control where the glaze went and try to keep it relatively mess-free. But honestly drizzling it with a spoon would probably work just as well.
Pro tip: Put parchment paper or paper towels under your wire rack prior to applying glaze. Because no matter how mess-free you think you'll be, you won't. And you'll have a sticky mess all over your pretty table cloth and, inevitably, in your hair after you try to clean it up.
Once I filled the indented area, I threw on some cute sprinkles that I found at HomeGoods and called them done.
The kiddos LOVED them! They were cute, festive and tasty.
Cake batter: Part deux
I decided to put together a bundt cake while the little heart cakes were baking. I have a pretty pretty pan that I love having any excuse to use, and bundt cakes take a lot of batter. I figured it would use up most of what remained... and it did.
The important thing with a bundt cake - especially when using a pan with a design - is to grease the pan well, getting into all the little cracks and crevices. If your cake sticks it'll be an ugly mess!
I figured I'd try layering the colors, so I put about 1/3 of the remaining red velvet in the pan and tapped the pan on the counter to even out the batter and get out any air bubbles. As you can see from the post-baking picture, there were apparently still air bubbles. Oh well. That's why we decorate, right?
I then dumped about 1/3 of the white cake batter on top of that and tapped it. Then more red velvet. The bundt took maybe 40 minutes or so. I eyeballed this one too and waited until it looked done... then let it bake a little longer. I get nervous when I don't have a recipe, and I felt like I overfilled this pan a bit. So I was worried that the middle would be raw. Luckily, it baked evenly and stayed nice & moist.
Once the cake cooled, I made some more glaze and drizzled it over the top. Then garnished the bottom with some strawberries and blueberries I had in the fridge to make it look a little more fancy.
The stripe effect wasn't as cool as I'd pictured, but it was still something different. And that's usually a good thing.
Cake batter: 33 1/3
I still had a bit of cake batter left, so i got out my favorite 8x8 square pan and did the swirly thing in that, this time swirling the red velvet into the white batter. We had company bringing dinner the next night, so I figured I'd bake it, chop it up and make a trifle for dessert.
To be honest, red velvet weirds me out a little. I can't seem to wrap my head around which flavors taste good with it and which ones don't. So, while trifles are usually an easy thing to throw together, I was kinda stumped as to what I should do with this.
I went to the Google and found a few ideas. A lot of people said red velvet cake was really good with Jello Cheesecake Pudding, so I picked up some of that and decided to layer it with homemade whipped cream. I was a bit wary of this because it sounded like it would be overly sweet. But if it's on the internet it has to be good, right?
Side note: Those little boxes of instant pudding don't make very much. Pick up 2 if you're going to do a
For homemade whipped cream, just put some cold heavy cream into a bowl and put in a couple of tablespoons of powdered sugar and a little bit of vanilla. Hand whip or use a mixer until you form stiff peaks. Its incredibly easy and so delicious! You'll never go back to canned whipped cream after getting used to the fresh stuff.
I chopped the cake up into 1 inch-ish chunks and layered cake, pudding, whipped cream. Cake, pudding, whipped cream. Keep going until the trifle dish is full, or until you run out of stuff. But make sure the whipped cream is on the very top, because it looks pretty that way.
I'm almost positive that I forgot a layer of whipped cream in the middle of the trifle. Whatever.
I set aside a few chunks of cake, a little whipped cream and a bit of pudding so I could make a little tiny trifle for the kiddo. Our company was coming after his bedtime and I wanted him to be able to enjoy a bit of dessert without dipping into the one I would be serving. With his, I also put in some chopped up Oreos.
Overall, I'd call it ok. I didn't dislike it, but I wasn't crazy about it either. It was kinda sweet, and I felt like it needed something crunchy or with a little firmer texture to break
things up a bit. I had stolen a bite of the mini-trifle from mini-me before dinner and was really surprised at how much more I liked it with the Oreos. It gave it the texture the big one was lacking and, for some reason, it actually cut down on the sweetness. I don't know how this is possible since Oreos are like 110% sugar... but somehow the flavor just set off all of the other flavors in a good way.
If I end up doing this in the future there will be Oreos. And I might use vanilla pudding instead of cheesecake flavored.
But it was fine for this time. And I think we'd all had enough cocktails that we didn't really care anyway.
Moral of the story:If you're serving a new dessert that you aren't so sure about, just get your guests (and yourself) lit beforehand.