Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bacon-infused Red Velvet Cake

This recipe was inspired by all the press that bacon in baking is getting these days. I was looking to try something new (my last attempt at low-altitude experimentation before we move to Boulder, CO next week!), and was intrigued by the write-up provided here.
I won't lie: there were many doubters and naysayers and people who were all-around grossed-out by this. But in the end, anyone who tasted it at least said that it was good. Some said amazing, some seemed slow to admit it, but I had no bad reviews (at least to my face).
The cake and icing recipes you can tweak, but I do think that red velvet cake and cream cheese frosting might be the perfect backdrop for the savory-sweet-salty bacon. (Although...I'm already contemplating my next move with bacon, and it might be into this.)

Favorite red velvet cake recipe (example)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate mini-morsels
Favorite cream cheese frosting (example1 example2)
~1 cup candied bacon pieces, divided + several larger chunks for garnish on top

1. Prepare red velvet cake batter as directed, stir in mini-morsels.
2. Stir in ~half of candied bacon pieces (recipe/technique below)
3. Bake as directed.
4. Let cool; cut cake halves in half horizontally (so you have 4 layers)
5. Divide frosting -- into 3/4 of it mix additional 1/3 - 1/2 cup candied bacon pieces
6. Use un-baconated frosting on top of cake; garnish with candied bacon slices if desired.

Candied bacon
There are a lot of ways people have suggested doing this.
I actually used pre-cooked bacon from Whole Foods (about 8-10 large-ish slices), coated in brown sugar and a little (1/4 cup?) melted butter, and cooked in the oven on a parchment covered cookie sheet at ~400deg. Do this until you start to suspect burning (i.e., keep an eye on it; it won't take more than 10 min probably).
Let cool, and try not to eat the candied mass of of is (surprisingly?) good. Keep the burnt edges out of the cake, reserve a few prettier chunks/pieces for garnish, and crumple up the rest of the candied bacon into sub-centimeter sized chunks. Actually, maybe sub-half-centimeter is better. You want the flavor in the cake and frosting, but not really the chunks of bacon.