tried and tasted: Red Velvet Cake

Late Xmas Cake, born 2pm, dead 2.05pm

I had planned to put this up in the morning, but things haven't gone exactly to plan today. Mia has been great, no tantrums, happily smiling and playing. The downside of a happy baby is that a happy baby usually happens when said baby gets a lot of attention from mum. Yours truly was also trying to keep the baby happy while baking a Christmas cake. This was to be my first attempt at a Christmas cake. It turned out beautifully. And then turned on to the floor. I also singed my arm with the very hot springform pan and now have two welts to show for it. But the destroyed cake hurt much more. Now I am trying to salvage the cake by smothering it in brandy and wrapping it in rolls of plastic wrap. They do say brandy heals everything, let's see.

I'd baked the red velvet cake a couple of weeks earlier and it was a heart-breaker for two reasons.
Firstly because the cake was marvelous. The texture was absolutely divine, more like eating watered silk than velvet. I was using 'cake flour' for the first time and I must say I've quite enjoyed the result. Cake flour* is lighter than regular flour and produces cake with a more delicate texture. I was also very intrigued about the use of vinegar in the cake and was a bit hesitant at first. A little reading up later, I learnt that the vinegar and buttermilk used in the recipe actually make the cocoa release a red pigment called, 'anthocyanin'. The recipe is from one of my favourite baking websites, Joy of Baking -- access the original recipe here -- I've followed it down to the letter, with the exceptions of the red colour, cake flour and buttermilk, i.e. instead of store-bought cake flour and buttermilk, I made mine. I also used only 1 tablespoon of red colouring instead of two, didn't want it overly red. Oh yes, I also don't use mascarpone in my icing.

Partner was the second reason for the cake being a heart-breaker. Since Partner quite likes chocolate cake, I was hoping he would love this cake. I was so wrong. It was hate at first sight. "Why is it red?" he shrieked. I explained all about the anthocyanin, he looked even more skeptical. "I like chocolate cake that is chocolate." That was before I iced the cake with the cream-cheese frosting. Once that was done I begged, cajoled, pleaded for him to at least try onebloodybite. To no avail. He almost did a Mia-tantrum -- body rigid, legs straight out, mouth tightly shut, arms flailing -- when I tried to sort of force-feed him a bit of cake. Sigh.
Can't get worse than this; woman loves to bake, man won't eat, woman eats all cake, gets fat. But the cake's absolute divinity.

Prep time: 20 mins, bake time: 30 mins

 2 ½ cups (250 grams) sifted* cake flour*
½ TSP salt
2 TBS (15 grams) cocoa powder
½ cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups (300 grams) granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 TSP pure vanilla extract
1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk*
2 TBS liquid red food coloring
1 TSP white vinegar
16 ounces (454 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
 ½ cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups (220 grams) powdered or icing sugar, sifted
1 TSP pure vanilla extract

  1. Buttermilk can be purchased or you can make the buttermilk by mixing 1 TBS of white distilled vinegar/cider vinegar, or lemon juice to 1 cup (240 ml) of milk. Allow this mixture to stand for 5-10 minutes before using. 
  2. If you cannot purchase cake flour -- because you can't find it, like I couldn't -- make your own by mixing all-purpose flour and cornflour to the ratio of 3:1, ie. for 240 gm cake flour, use 180gm all-purpose flour with 60 gm cornflour.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). For fan-forced ovens, keep temperature 10 degrees lower. Butter/grease two 9 inch (23 cm) round cake pans and line the bottoms with baking paper ('butter' paper in India). Set aside.
  4. Sift together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder and set aside.
  5. In a bowl, beat the butter until soft; then add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. 
  6. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. If the batter is sticking to the sides, scrape down as needed.
  7. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.
  8. Whisk together the buttermilk and red food colouring in a cup. Keeping the beater/mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk to the butter mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.
  9. Combine vinegar and baking soda in another cup; allow the mixture to fizz and then quickly fold into the cake batter.
  10. As the soda starts working instantly with the acid, work quickly and divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans, smoothing the tops with a spoon/spatula if needed. Bake for approximately 25 - 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cakes comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
  11. Once the cakes have completely cooled, wrap in plastic and place the cake layers in the refrigerator for at least an hour (or overnight). This is done to make filling and frosting the cakes easier. 
  12. Cream Cheese Frosting: Beat butter and cream cheese until the texture is smooth and creamy. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar until completely mixed in and smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract. 
  13. Assembling the cake: Cut each cake layer in half, horizontally. Place one of the cake layers -- top facing down -- on a cutting board/plate. Spread the cake layer with a layer of icing. Place another layer of cake on top of the icing and continue to ice and stack the cake layers. Ice the top and sides of the cake. 
  14. I garnished my cake with shaved/grated chocolate. 
Source: Joy of Baking.com


Espèra said...

Ooooh. Did Partner eat any eventually?
It's a pity if he didn't, that cake looks great.

JB said...

@ Espera: :) Thanks for leaving something to read! Was beginning to wonder if anyone's out there. And nah, he didn't. Quite stubborn that man. I ate most of it.

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

Sounds so brilliant and I really, really want to try my hand at baking. I just don't know what's stopping me...

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