It was an interesting Christmas week for me. I made a number of back-to-back trips to the grocery store: 3 times on Saturday, 5 times Sunday, yes you read that right, 5 times on Sunday and 3 times on Monday. I spent countless hours searching for mom’s recipe to her Red Velvet Cake (capitals intended because it was just that good). Not to mention 6 failed baked cakes before I got it right.
I realized it wasn’t just a simple recipe that was inspired by Martha Stewart, but my mom had changed the ingredients to make this cake become her own signature dessert. It was the passion that she added to the taste, and the love, which were part of her secret recipe.
I was up till 10 pm on December 21 determined to get the famous Red Velvet Cake right. I’ve heard people say over 100 times that mom’s Red Velvet Cake was the best they’ve ever tasted. Funny, my hubby was starting to think I was becoming obsessed, but I couldn’t imagine Christmas without my mom’s Red Velvet Cake.
My heart was burdened that I had not invested in or paid closer attention to the art of my mom’s skills in the kitchen, and believe me, baking this cake was not as simple as just following the recipe. She had it down to a perfect science, and, needless to say, not one step could be missed or taken for granted. I noticed she left me clues in her kitchen for which I am thankful, starting with the exact name brand oil used, to the specific red food coloring, and the only cake flour used in every cake she ever baked. The food coloring that must be as red as a Valentine’s Day heart represents love when you cut into this cake and see that glorious hue. The flour that provided lightness as if the cake were floating on a cloud, and oh, yes, the must-have moistness from the oil added that creates the delicious taste that makes your mouth “hummmmm” with the soft, buttery cream cheese frosting.
Baking cakes, which my mom loved, loved doing at this time of year, has helped me grow through my loss, and I’ve found it to be very therapeutic. Doing an activity or completing a project our loved one wanted to finish or had an interest in is good for the healing of the soul, helping one to feel their presence; it definitely brings comfort.
So, when I put that last attempt into the oven, I was fearful it would be the 7th failure. I didn’t have the courage to taste it the night of baking. I asked mom to help me bless those who truly enjoyed her Red Velvet Cake. As I walked into her kitchen the next morning, the cake smelled like hers, it felt soft to the touch and moist like hers, and yes, it tasted like my mom’s Sweet Lou’s Red Velvet Cake.
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