It was supposed to be a red velvet cake.

Yesterday I tried to bake a red velvet cake.

It was supposed to turn out something like this, which is the red velvet cake I made for Valentine’s Day last year.

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But it didn’t.

I used the same recipe as last year – and the same baking pans (at least I think I did).

It looked more brown than red.

It overflowed the pans (fortunately I’d put a baking sheet on the shelf below the pans – unfortunately I’d filled them to the top without thinking instead of saving some of the batter for cupcakes or something else)

One of the layers sank.

The same layer that sank refused to exit the pan gracefully (oh yes, I remembered to grease and flour the pans) .

It looks so bad that I am too embarrassed to take a photo of it.

Fortunately the frosting helped cover some of the flaws.

But it looks rather lopsided.

I obviously did not inherit Grandma Saunders’ cake-baking gene (but I’ve known that for a long time).

Ah well – at least it still tastes good!

Baking for love

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I am not the world’s greatest cook. My family will assure you of that. But once in a while I do break out the mixing bowls and give it a whirl, and with Valentine’s Day last Thursday, what better way to show my children that I love them than to bake something special just for them?

Tuesday found me happily up to my eyes in flour as I baked my son’s favorite Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. One little trick I learned several years ago is to toast the oatmeal first – it brings out the nuttiness (yes I know – as if I needed any more nuttiness in my kitchen!) I’ve also discovered that golden raisins (we call them sultanas in England) give a different sweetness to the cookies, and that was what I used this week (mainly, I’ll admit, because I’d forgotten that I used up all the raisins at Christmas). The cookies were a success, and I packed them carefully into the containers, padding them with parchment and paper towel, hoping that some of them would actually arrive intact, before heading down to the post office and mailing them. I kept back the ones that didn’t fit in the boxes – they disappeared before I got a chance to photograph them.

Then it was Em’s turn. She had decided on a Red Velvet Cake for her birthday, but circumstances conspired against her, and I promised her one for Valentine’s Day instead. I’d never baked one before, but we looked up recipes and came up with two or three that looked promising. Wednesday evening she put on her baking apron (a birthday baking gift from a year or so back) and we set to work. We made a pretty good team! It was the first sponge cake I’d made in years, and although it wasn’t up to Grandma Saunders’ standards (she was a wonderful baker) it turned out well, and must be a success as it is disappearing quite rapidly! It’s more of a brownish red than a bright red, but Em decided that the chocolateyness (is that even a word?) of it was more important than the color. We also tried our hand at a yummy buttercream frosting.

Now I’m feeling inspired! I’m heading out of town this week and I think maybe I should bake cookies to leave behind for Bob and Em. Chocolate chip, maybe even mocha chocolate chip!