Red (yes red!) Velvet Cake

In dessert, food on 01/10/2009 at 10:34 pm

We like red velvet cake. A lot. I make it several times a season, and we sample the fare every time we see it.

Today we went to Batch on Waverly Place – Serious Eats offered promising tastes. We were disappointed. For starters, the cupcake wasn’t red! We like our red velvet cake red. Bright RED. Shockingly red! This cupcake wasn’t even pink. It was also dry, and there was a weird hazelnut-like cream in the center. We are a bit traditionalist here – there should be no additions to the red velvet cake. It is perfect as-is. The only redeeming part of the velvet cake (remember, it wasn’t red) was the cream cheese frosting.

This isn’t to say that Batch is all around bad; we sampled another cupcake which was moist and chocolaty and yummy, with bacon on it too boot. But their velvet cake was disappointing.

Red velvet cake is red and moist, almost fluffy, faintly chocolate, and slightly tangy. It is hard to describe the flavor – savory meets sweet: umami-like. It should be carefully frosted with cream cheese frosting so no red pops through. Red velvet cake is my most favorite cake.

Cakeman Raven makes a great red velvet cake down in BK. We have found none comparable aside from our own. His recipe with slight variations is quite tasty.

cake ingredients:
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine salt
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1½ cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 oz tablespoons red food coloring (1 ounce bottle)
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
cream cheese frosting, recipe at end

prep: grease baking pans (I like 6x3in cake pans, but 8×2 and 9×1½ work too) and coat lightly with flour. preheat oven to 350F.

mix: sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder in a medium bowl.
whisk the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla in the stand mixer and slowly add the dry ingredients.

bake: distribute the red batter evenly in the cake pans and place in the oven, evenly spaced apart. rotate the pans at the mid-point. cook for about 40 minutes (1hr 10 min for 6in baking rounds), or when a toothpick poked into the center of the cakes comes out clean.

cool: remove cakes from oven and and run a knife around the edges to loosen them from the sides of the pans. remove cakes and let cool completely on a cooling rack top up. once the cakes are cool, if you used the 6×3 pan, you can cut the cake into two layers if you want.

frost: place 1 layer, either cut-side or rounded-side down, in the middle of a cake plate. putting pieces of either wax paper or parchment paper in a circle under the cake makes it easier to get a clean line while frosting the cake. with a frosting knife (or spatula, plastic ikea knife, or even a spoon) spread a layer of cream cheese frosting over the top of the cake. repeat with the other cake layers on top of the first. for a professional looking cake make a crumb layer by spreading a very thin layer of frosting over the entire cake and then chill. this makes frosting the finished cake really easy and none of those red crumbs give away the surprise! once chilled, finish frosting the cake with the remaining frosting. ta-da! professional looking, yummy cake.

eat: at room temperature. the cake will keep for several days wrapped in plastic wrap. yum!

red velvet cake

cream cheese frosting:
1 pound cream cheese, softened
3 cups sifted powder sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup), softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

mix: cream cheese, sugar and butter in a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, or with a hand-held electric mixer in a large bowl on low speed until combined. increase to high speed, and mix until light and fluffy, while occasionally scraping down the bowl.

reduce the speed to low to add the vanilla, increase the speed and mix briefly until fluffy again.

chill: for about 30 minutes before use.

store: can be keep in the fridge for about 2 weeks.


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