Aunt Erma might not approve.

I have a couple traditions in my life. Every Christmas I make Great Aunt Erma’s Red Velvet Cake.  This is one of those from scratch, vintage recipes. It definitely dates back to the 1950’s and quite probably earlier.  It uses things like shortening (not butter!) and a vinegar/baking soda mix for leavening.  See:

 redcake

And every year for my brirthday I make myself an interesting cake. I started doing this in high school when I realized I wanted some ridiculous crazy thing for my cake and it didn’t seem fair to ask mom to make it for me. I’ve tried many differnt things. About half of them are complete and utter failures, but often taste good anyway.

Yesterday was my brithday, and this year I choose simple cupcakes for the style.  ‘Cause cupcakes are great!  Fun portable yummieness. But for the cake itself? I took Aunt Erma’s sacred recipe and deviated.  First I was out of vanilla extract. So I had to slice and scrape an actual vanilla bean instead. Darn. Second I thought “What if I used aged balsamic vinegar instead of the white vinegar I always use?” The answer is “all good things”.  The flavor differnce is subtle but makes it richer and deeper. And because the aged balsamic is thicker than white vinegar the resulting foam is fluffier, making the cake a bit loftier too. I made a cream cheese frosting to go on top. Again it uses real vanilla beans and I added Orange Flower Water for a little flavor.

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And shared them with my knitting group.

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Who reacted favorably. As always, knit-nite was fun and only a couple cupcakes made it home.  Not only that our favorite dyer (up there in the chair) showed off her new colorways. I’m voting for the orange and blue. I hope it will be in her store soon.

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And at the end of the night I spotted some knitting in the wild.

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