In Level 3, students write ten different models of essays often taught in freshman college English classes. One of the ten models is the Process essay, in which the writer describes a process in stages and steps. Like all essays, this one has a thesis, an opinion that the essay explains.

Tyleigh Spiller, one of my Level 3 students, wrote her Process essay about making a red velvet cake. Her opinion (thesis) is that doing so makes the world an overall happier place. 🙂

Note the following:

  • The bold underlined words are different types of “dress-ups,” an IEW style technique used in each paragraph.
  • The numbered sentences indicate the six sentence types, another IEW style technique.
  • The italicized words, phrases, and sentences are different “decorations,” an IEW style technique added in Level 2
  • The underlined italicized words indicate descriptive words of the five senses, a style technique that I have added to the IEW techniques.
  • “TE” stands for “triple extension,” a style technique I save for Level 3.

I hope you will be inspired by Tyleigh’s essay to try your hand at baking her delicious Red Velvet Cake!

A Wonder of Times Past

By Tyleigh Spiller

            [6] The year was 1971. Janice observed her aunt’s movements. She was amazed. [1] Janice, who was only a teenager, watched and waited, while her Aunt Nanny skillfully baked a scrumptious red velvet cake. [3] Surprisingly, Aunt Nanny lived in an old weathered house that had no running water or electricity. A well provided fresh, clean water, and a nice, heated stove was the oven. [5] As Nanny and Janice’s mother talked up a storm, Janice, astonished, observed how Nanny poured in the messy ingredients into a large dish washing bowl without measuring or paying much attention to the process. [4] Mixing the ingredients vigorously with a spoon, Nanny chatted and stirred, finishing up the velvety batter. She swiftly stuck the cake in the wood stove and closed the heavy iron door without effort. As the lovely cake baked, a sweet and wonderful scent filled the room, making Janice melt in anticipation. Skillfully, Nanny whipped up the sugary sweet icing, while the cake baked. Without setting a timer or watching a clock, Nanny knew exactly when the delectable cake was finished. After several minutes of sitting by an open window, the cake was iced and cut into generous slices. [2] In awe and anticipation, Janice took a bite of the perfectly moist cake. It was the best she had ever eaten. Although mixing, baking, and icing a red velvet cake takes patience and practice, it is an enjoyable process. Just as Janice, my Grandma, will always remember the day Aunt Nanny made her red velvet cake the old-fashioned way, baking one today also unearths the wonder of the past, brings families together, and lifts one’s spirits, making the world an overall happier place. 

First, in order to commence the baking of a moist, mouth-watering red velvet cake, the necessary supplies and ingredients must be gathered together. [5] Although it is not very old-fashioned, a shiny stand-up mixer, equipped with a flat beater attachment, is a convenient tool to stir up the particularly thin cake batter. Next, locate a large mixing bowl, a simple spatula, and a sifter, which will be utilized to remove clumps from the dry ingredients. [3] Additionally, three, eight-inch layer cake pans are vital for the baking of a delectable cake (Newby). [2] In addition to supplies, the ingredients also need to be collected, since no progress would be made toward the sweet, pleasurable goodness of a cake without them. [1] The cake requires two fresh eggs, one thick and creamy cup of buttermilk, 1 ½ cups of Wesson oil, one teaspoon of vinegar, and one teaspoon of vanilla. [4] Bringing a thickness to the batter, the dry ingredients include 1 ½ cups of sugar, 2 ½ cups of plain flour, one teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa powder, and one teaspoon of baking soda (Newby). But what bestows the velvety cake with its iconic scarlet color? [6] The answer is food coloring. Ultimately, one ounce of red food coloring gives the scrumptious cake its identity (Newby). As a helpful note, ensure that the food coloring is not the Great Value Walmart brand; otherwise, the cake will be blush pink velvet instead of rich red velvet. Finally, locate some greasy vegetable shortening in order to make the pans nonstick. Assuredly, without these supplies and ingredients, a red velvet cake would not be made tangible to the waiting mouths of the recipients.

            After the ingredients have been gathered and measured, it is finally time to mix the batter for the sweet and moist cake. [TE][2] Before mixing, pouring, and baking, preheat the oven to 325 degrees and then take about a tablespoon of vegetable shortening for each cake pan and grease them with a paper towel until the insides of the pans are completely and thoroughly covered (Newby). [1] The pans, [inv.w/w] fully greased, will also need a dusting of flour to ensure that the delicate layers will slip right out of the pans with no sticking. [4] Using the sifter, sift the flour, baking soda, and cocoa together into a medium-sized bowl to remove any clumps. [6] The preparation is complete. Everything is ready. It is time to mix. [3] Carefully and completely, pour all of the wet ingredients into the shiny mixing bowl. [5] When all of those ingredients are in the bowl, gradually add the dry ingredients to the mixture. After all of the ingredients have been added, place the heavy bowl onto the mixer and attach the flat beater to the mixer. Next, turn on the mixer to its lowest setting, since the flour might cover the kitchen with a dusty mess otherwise. Gradually, speed up the mixer until the scarlet batter is well combined, stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula if necessary. After the batter is mixed, remove the bowl form the mixer and slowly pour the batter evenly into the greasy pans. Finally, place the cake pans into the heated oven, ensuring that they are not touching each other or the sides of the oven, for 25 minutes (Newby). [t/t] A delightful aromatic scent permeates the kitchen, as the velvety cake batter begins to bake.

            [TE] Subsequently, after the scarlet cake batter has baked thoroughly for 25 minutes, it is nearly ready to be cooled and removed from the pans (Newby). [2] Before removing the pans from the hot oven, ensure the layers are finished by taking a wooden tooth pick and sticking it carefully into the moist cake layers. [1] The tooth pick will be clean if the cake batter is done, and if it is not, bake the layers for a few more minutes. [5] When the carefully crafted cake is finished, take the pans out of the oven with an oven mitt or two pot holders and place them on a wire rack, which will aid in the cooling process. [3] Conscientiously, after the toasty cake layers have cooled in the pans for about 15 minutes, take a butter knife and run it around the inside edge of the pans where the cake meets the pan, since this will ensure that the cake will slip out easily. [4] Taking care not to break them, remove the delicate layers slowly from the pans by flipping them upside down, and then place the warm layers on the wire racks to cool completely. [6] The cake is nearly done.

 [3] Lastly, it is time to collect and mix the ingredients for the sweet, smooth and lovely icing, which will finish the cake completely. First, gather one package of cream cheese, one stick of salted butter, one box of powdered sugar, and one cup of finely chopped nuts if desired. Rapidly, cream the butter and cream cheese together with the mixer (Newby). [5] When they are creamed, mix in the powdered sugar until the icing is smooth (Newby). [1] The icing may, sometimes, be either too thin or too thick depending on the humid moisture level in the air and on the amount of time the sugary icing was mixed. [2] To remedy the problem, pour some rich milk into the icing, if it is too thin, or add in some more powdered sugar, if it is too thick. Add in the nuts until they are evenly distributed throughout the creamy icing (Newby). Finally, locate an icing spatula, which may be substituted with a butter knife, and spread the icing smoothly and evenly between the layers, around the sides, and on top of the cake until it is completely covered. [6] The delectable cake is finished. [inv. #4] Grand and gorgeous, the wonderful red velvet cake is finally ready to be enjoyed after all of its diligent preparation by the baker.

Thus, by working tirelessly to bake a tasty red velvet cake, all of one’s efforts are greatly rewarded just by the expressions on family members’ faces when it is placed in front of them, and by how happy it makes one feel to finally taste it. [TE][2] Throughout the baking process, there is a definite sense of joy, a sense of fulfillment, and a wonderful sense of achievement, as the warm cake nears completion. [5] Although it may be difficult at times, cake baking becomes easier to those who stick with it and practice diligently. Even if the crumbly cake somehow does not turn out right, or the soupy icing slides off of it, the baker should still be proud of their attempt and of taking the time to make it in the first place. [1] Those who have become professional bakers had to start somewhere too. [3] Assuredly, baking a cake is just an overall rewarding process. [4] Taking a bite of a moist, sweet cake, one cannot help but smile; spirits are lifted and worries are melted all at the same time. While cake is not the healthiest food one can eat, it is alright once in a while because, as professional British baker Mary Berry puts it, “Cakes are healthy too, you just eat a small slice (Berry). [6] They are healthy differently. Most importantly, cakes convey what words sometimes cannot. They might communicate an emotion, a feeling, a tradition passed on for generations. Amid times of change, an old-fashioned red velvet cake serves in two ways: a reminder of times past, and a wonder for the taste buds.

Works Cited

Berry, Mary. “A Quote by Mary Berry.” Goodreads | Meet Your Next Favorite Book, Goodreads, Accessed 7 Dec. 2021.

Newby, Shirley. “Red Velvet Cake.” Antioch WMU Centennial Cookbook, Cookbook Publishers, Inc., Olathe, Kansas, 1988, p. 125.

© Tyleigh Spiller 2021 Used with Permission

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