This is the kind of cake you could take to a funeral. And we did. . . have a funeral, that is. But this cake didn't make it there. Instead, we have been enjoying its company for dessert this past week--for three nights so far, two pieces remain for tonight. I thought it about time to pop in here. I had family comment: "Noticed you've not posted in a while". Not that I'm a person who is easily swayed by anyone's concerns, this just happens to be the god's truth.
My sporadic entries have been mostly owing to the incredible disdain I've had for anything having to do with documenting the goings-on in my life: food or no food. In fact, there has been too much life going on. More than one couple should ever have to endure. More than anyone should have to endure. I am, as a dear friend recently joked--but sort of seriously meant, "Kelly. . . You're just through." And I am.
My husband's father passed away. It was sudden. It was tragic. Yes, he had lived a good, long life, but still--who says what amount of life is "enough"--it wasn't enough for those saying good-bye, I can tell you that. It was about all either of us could do to keep ourselves together. Worst of all, when the call came regarding the "accident"--Dr. Thyme was away. Not to be too trite here, but When you least expect it fits nicely. Then layer in ALL the family thrown-together stuff and you have a perfect picture of what chaos theory might look like. Well, at least what I think it might look like.
Men handle sadness way differently from women. Way. It is in the time of crisis and turmoil when I think I learn the most about the man I married. Not in the daily and mundane--but during the near-the-end-of-my-rope moments--this is when who my husband is becomes clearer.
While we sat huddled together during the service--with nearly two hundred or more in attendance (the first one hundred immediate family--I kid you not--god love those Irish Catholics) my grip on my husband's arm was so tight, I'd have thought he'd kindly remove it and place it in his lap. Nope. He just let me stay there, leaning against his tall body with my tall body trying desperately to shrink into a smaller and smaller version of myself, my fingers clenching his arm. Crying. Trying so hard to not get all crazy--keeping a tissue to my nose to keep from soaking his pant leg because that was where my head sat, bent over his leg, leaning against his arm--the entire time--hiding my tears. Because the man we said good-bye to not only was my husband's father, but was a war hero. He'd seen enough in his life as a soldier for both of us--for the entire room. His father was a veteran of WWII. One of the Greatest Generation. One of those young kids who, at the tenderest of age, left his home and his family to protect our freedoms. To take part in one of the most horrific battles of that time, return home a hero, but have to live the rest of his life with the memories of what he'd seen over there haunting him. He was a proud father. Devoted husband. Great story teller. Lover of books and history. Just your all around really Good Guy. He's what made my husband--and I will be forever grateful. It was a lovely service.
I actually made this cake on July 4th. Or maybe I should say, I was directed toward making it. We loved it. We'll make one again this summer I can promise you.
Vegan Red Velvet Cake
*Adapted from America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book
(Makes a 9 x 13 sheet cake)
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (11.25 ounces)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup soy milk mixed with 1 tablespoon of white vinegar--at room temp. ("vegan" buttermilk)
2 eggs (3 teaspoons of Ener-G Egg Replacer mixed with 4 tablespoons of water)
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon imitation butter extract* (optional--but you know how I love my butter extract)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons red food coloring (one 1 oz. bottle is two tablespoons)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted vegetable margerine (3/4 cup)
1 1/2 cups Florida Crystals sugar
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly spray a 9 x 13 baking pan. Get your cup of soy milk mixed with vinegar out first--whisk together and let this set aside and come to room temp. (About 15-20 minutes should do it.) Whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl. Set aside. In a small bowl, mix together the cocoa and red food coloring until it forms a paste. Set this aside. In another large bowl mix together the margerine and the sugar--with a hand mixer--for about five or six minutes. You want to incorporate as much air into this as you can--until it's nice and fluffy. In a medium bowl, whisk together the "buttermilk" you made with the Ener-G egg replacer, additional tablespoon of vinegar and extracts. Now, back to the bowl with the margerine and sugar, add a third of the flour mixture, then half of the "buttermilk" mixture--mixing on low speed just until incorporated, then repeat this step, ending with the addition of flour. Next, add the red food coloring and cocoa paste--mix in with a spoon first, then turn the beaters on low until the food coloring mixture has been fully incorporated. Pour the batter into the cake pan, spread out evenly with a spatula. Tap it a few times on the counter to get out any air bubbles. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. (A few crumbs are okay--you don't want to overbake the cake!) Allow cake to cool completely in the pan before frosting. You can store the cake in the fridge covered for about five days. Yum!
Creamy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
1/4 cup vegetable margerine
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1-to-2 tablespoons soy creamer
2-to-3 cups powdered sugar
Mix together the margerine and shortening. Next, add the extract and then begin to incorporate the sugar, adding a bit at a time. Mix on medium speed. Add the first tablespoon of creamer, then more sugar. Mix on medium speed again. Keep doing this adding and mixing until you get the desired consistency you'd like. I never really make this frosting the same way twice--so that is why the measurements appear as they do!