Saturday, March 28, 2009
Red Velvet Cake
I have to admit, the red velvet cake is very striking looking with the white frosting and red cake. This was my first experience with red velvet cake -- both making it and eating it. Flavor-wise it's not much of a standout, just a regular, nice, moist, buttermilk cake that happens to be dyed red. The cream cheese frosting on this particular version (found in my Sweet Melissa Baking Book) is quite good, but it's nothing spectacular or different either.
Don't get me wrong, the cake tastes great and you can rarely go wrong with cream cheese frosting. My only quibble -- and it's not even much of a quibble -- is that as far as flavor goes, it's not really different or unique in any way. In fact, without the red dye I would just call it a buttermilk cake with cream cheese frosting. Add the red dye and it suddenly becomes a red velvet cake...
The book mentioned that the original red velvet cakes got their color from beets... now that would be something. I think I'm going to have to read up more on where the cakes came from and what actually makes them different from other cakes. And then I might have to go get a armadillo cake pan and make a Steel Magnolia's throwback red velvet cake. :P
From: the Sweet Melissa Baking Book
For the cake:
3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3 tblsp unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 tsps ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsps baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 tsps vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsps red wine vinegar
2 tsps natural red food coloring
For the cream cheese frosting:
12 oz soft cream cheese
3 sticks butter, soft
3 cups powdered sugar
2 tsps vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350. Spray two 9x2 inch round cake pans with baking spray.
In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt until combined.
In a small bowl whisk together the buttermilk and vanilla.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, cream the sugar and oil. Add the eggs and beat well. Add the vinegar and food coloring and mix to combine.
Add the flour mixture to the batter in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk mixture. Mix well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for 10 more seconds.
Divide the batter evenly between the pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out clean. Remove to a rack and cool for 20 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack. Cool completely before filling and frosting. (you can also wrap the cakes well in plastic wrap and store them in the fridge for 3 or 4 days)
To make the frosting:
Cream the butter and cream cheese in the bowl of a mixer until thoroughly combined and no lumps remain. (it's best to use soft cream cheese and soft butter so that it mixes properly) Add the powdered sugar a tablespoon at a time, letting each one incorporate before adding the next one. Add the vanilla and mix until combined. If the frosting is too soft to use, cover it with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for 10 to 15 minutes, or until it's a good consistency to frost with.