The one thing that made me feel slightly better about this endeavor was that the recipe was for The Grit's Chocolate Vegan Death cake. I've been to The Grit once before with my sister and must admit that their lemon poppyseed cake was phenomenal. And not just phenomenal for a vegan cake, but just plain amazing.
We couldn't decide what flavor frosting to use and toyed around with the idea of chocolate, cream cheese, and raspberry. Chocolate seemed to rich to pile onto a cake by the name of "Chocolate Death", so we opted for a strawberry frosting from the ever so wonderful Paula Deen.
I really enjoyed trying something different, because I feel like I often stick to my tried and true favorites (red velvet and italian cream), but I will have to admit that this cake was quite frustrating. While the flavor of the cake exceeded my expectations, the crumb was so tender and the cake was so moist that the layers didn't want to stay intact. Any time I transfered them they began to crumble. And to top it off, the frosting, while also incredibly tasty, wouldn't ever thicken enough and therefore kept wanting to slide off the cake. Thus, the whole thing had to be refrigerated to keep it together :(
Still, despite all of this I would recommend this cake recipe to be used for cupcakes. That way you wouldn't have to worry about the cake being so tender.
To top off the cake I decided to try my hand at making some gum paste flowers. While they weren't Food Network worthy, I was fairly pleased with my first try. The moral of the story: don't be intimidated by trying new things!
Chocolate Vegan Death Cake
From the Grit
4 1/2 C all purpose flour
3 C sugar
1 C cocoa powder
1 Tbsp baking soda
2 Tsp salt
1 1/2 C vegetable oil
2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
3 C strong brewed coffee
1/4 C cider vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 3 9-inch cake pans.
Sift together dry ingredients in large bowl. Add oil and vanilla. Blend together at a low speed until fully combined. Switch mixer to medium speed and gradually add coffee. When mixture is smooth, add cider vinegar and blend on low speed until just combined.
Divide batter evenly into prepared pans. Bake 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center of the layers comes out clean.
Remove to wire rack and let cool.
Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
From Paula Deen
1/4 C butter, softened
1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
1 10-oz package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed
1/2 tsp strawberry extract
7 C confectioners sugar
In medium bowl, beat butter and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in 1/4 C strawberry puree (*please note that you do NOT use the whole package) and the strawberry extract. Gradually add confectioners sugar and beat until smooth.
For the flowers I used Wilton's Gumpaste mix. Love, love, LOVE this stuff. It makes the whole process so easy. Just follow the directions on the can and add your own coloring if desired.
To form the flowers I used two different size heart shape cookie cutters. Roll out the gumpaste onto a surface floured with confectioners sugar and then use the cookie cutters to form the hearts.
Layer the hearts in an overlapping pattern to form the petals of the flowers. Use a dab of water to adhere the hearts to each other. Then gently place the flower into a muffin tin after cupping into a flower shape. The muffin tin will hold the flower in place so that it will dry in such a shape.
**Please note that ideally you would use a Wilton flower forming mold. I did not have any on hand and thus improvised with a muffin tin :) I would certainly have achieved better results had I had the mold.