For an aspiring baker, not much is worse than throwing out 22 cupcakes. Unless those cupcakes are evidence of your greatest baking fail to date, in which case you immediately delete all photos and evidence you ever made them and then try not to publicly mourn all the beautiful wrappers you wasted. End. Of. Story.
Or, you suck it up and decide to share your great big, terrible, horrible, no good, very bad experience with
the world your blog followers. I mean, your life isn’t all sunshine and unicorns, now is it? Well neither is mine.
So let’s talk about last night. It started out so perfect: recipe in hand (or more accurately: recipe pulled up in an email I had sent to myself weeks ago), ingredients all in a row, spirits high, and Fleetwood Mac playing. Little did I know, I was ready for what would later become known as The Battle of the Red Velvet Cake.
But I didn’t know of the impending doom, so I was excited. I was even extra excited to use the vintage geese measuring cups my mom gave me. Look how cute they are all in a row, ready to help out! I can hardly stand it!
And then things only got better. I finally used the beautiful ceramic juicer I bought while I was in Gatlinburg last summer. Ahh yes: supporting handmade goods, overcoming my grudge against Red Velvet cake— things were going well!
And then I did something I never do: I followed a recipe exactly how it was written. I was attempting to make a Red Velvet Cake. But not just any Red Velvet Cake. I was not interested in a bland, toxic red excuse to eat cream cheese frosting. I wanted a vegan version of the historic cake I had come across in my research: rich brown sugar, a delicate crumb, and naturally red with a cooked flour frosting. So when it called for beets, I didn’t blink an eye.
I opened those babies up and was immediately mesmerized by the magenta goodness. “This might actually work,” I thought to myself. But having never eaten a beet before, I eagerly took a huge whiff of the can to see what I was getting into. Although it smelled like damp earth after a heavy rain, I didn’t blink an eye. I mean, I routinely made brownies from a can of black beans, how much worse could these beets be?
So I threw them in the food processor and watched as they spun into a glorious red puree. I carefully added all the ingredients. I even sifted the dry into the wet to get my beautiful batter. Only thing to do now was a taste test! One lick of that spoon and my heart sank. But I didn’t give up! So what if it was a little tangy? That’s why most recipes called for buttermilk, vinegar, or lemon juice. It’s not like it’s supposed to be chocolate cake! I convinced myself it was supposed to be like that. Oh and the obvious dirt aftertaste? That would cook out. It. Totally. Would. So I baked them up, peering through the oven window to make sure they were rising. And boy, how the smell fooled me! Over the next 20 minutes my apartment was transformed into a small town cupcake shop! I was filled with hope when the timer went off. And I was so proud of those puffy, naturally red little cakes. I put in the second batch while the first cooled. As soon as it they were in the oven I reached for my masterpiece, pulled back the wrapper, and took a huge bite.
And as soon as it hit my tongue I spit it right back out. Right. In. The. Trash. How could something even taste SO BAD? How could something I made taste so bad? I had insulted myself. Oh, it was awful. It was like a moist, fluffy mudpie made with lemon juice instead of water. It was worse than the time one of the baker’s at work left the sugar out of the pumpkin cupcakes. It was simply embarrassing.
I wanted to give up. I gagged every time I looked into the kitchen at those sad, sad cakes staring back at me. If I didn’t have a special order of Red Velvet Cupcakes coming up in April for a friend’s mom’s birthday, then I probably would give up. But I have two cans of beets left, a few new recipes, more tips from various cake forums, and a huge grudge against Red Velvet Cake that I’m trying to fight. I just hope it’s enough to get me through the next month.