As I stepped out into the bright afternoon light, I couldn’t help but let a smile slowly spread across my sunburned face. I had been waiting for this as long as I could remember. I wanted to feel the weight of the DSLR camera nestled securely in my hands, waiting to take its first picture. To let my eyelashes brush across the view finder and press down on the shutter-speed button. I wanted to be able to replicate the pictures I saw in my head and be able to share them with you. To try to convey the smells and textures to you, through my camera.
For days my parents deliberated about what kind of camera we would purchase. It had to be a Nikon because my father had some old lenses that would fit the new camera. It couldn’t be too heavy, but it had to be well-built. I secretly told myself that I knew which camera they would choose at the end. It would be the Nikon D90, because it had everything we wanted. And luckily enough, that was the one we got.
I headed straight for the kitchen as soon as the batteries were charged and the camera was ready to use. As I placed two of the cupcakes I had made especially for this occasion, (using my new camera), on the porch table, I felt a rush of excitement shoot up my back and a tingle of anticipation in my fingertips. I was confident that the camera would work exactly as I hoped it would. That it would be able to take the kind of pictures I wished for. I knew that a good camera didn’t make a good photographer, but I hoped anyway. And when I took that first picture and marveled at the outcome, I did a happy little dance on the porch floor. It was everything I had wanted.
I made red velvet cupcakes only because I wanted a red cake for the fourth of July. I should have used my favorite cupcake recipe and dyed it red because I really don’t like red velvet cake. Why I made red velvet cake anyway, I don’t exactly know. Some illogical part of me refused to color a perfectly white cake red with food coloring. Red velvet cupcakes are supposed to be red, and white cupcakes aren’t. If you do like red velvet, then I think that this recipe would do the job. The frosting, on the other hand, I really liked. I did make a little modification; reducing the amount of butter by half. (I would have taken a picture of the inside of a cupcake, but unfortunately, I forgot to)!
Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 1 8-inch 3-layer cake
For the cake:
2½ cups cake flour
1½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1½ cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons (1 oz.) red food coloring (I used gel food coloring instead)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
For the frosting:
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
12 ounces butter, softened
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1½ cups chopped pecans (optional)
1. For the cake: Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa, and salt into a medium bowl.
3. Beat eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla, and vinegar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until well combined. Add dry ingredients and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.
4. Divide batter evenly between 3 greased and floured 8″ round cake pans, or fill cupcake liners 2/3 full with the batter.
5. Bake cakes, rotating halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Let cakes cool 5 minutes, then invert each onto a plate, then invert again onto a cooling rack. Let cakes cool completely.
6. For the frosting: Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until combined. Add sugar and beat until frosting is light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes.
4. Put 1 cake layer on a cake plate, level off with a serrated knife, and spread one-quarter of the frosting on top. Set another layer on top, level, and repeat frosting. Set remaining layer on top, level, and frost top and sides with the remaining frosting. Press pecans into the sides of the cake, if desired. **Tip: after leveling cake, turn it upside down to reduce numbers of crumbs. I also did a crumb coat on the outside, let it set for ten minutes, then finished with remaining frosting. I just frosted the cupcakes and edged them in red, white and blue sprinkles.
5. Chill for 2 hours to set frosting.