Red Velvet Cake

25 Feb

We have one corner cabinet in our kitchen that is dedicated to the vast majority of our kitchen tools.  Skillets, pots, tart molds, cast iron pans, pie plates, cake pans, cooling racks, a kitchen aid mixer and accessories, a wok  and sheet pans all live in haphazard piles, rejecting my attempts to create any kind of  “system”.    Every time  I reach for anything more specialized than my 9 inch skillet there is the inevitable shuffling, re-positioning, balancing and praying that everything just.stays.put.  And somehow, my smallest cake pan, the 4 inch-er, is always inside, on top of, or leaning against the tool I need.  I have never used that 4 inch pan, I think about it a lot, but I have never had occasion to use it.

And then I got this in the mail.  Magazine covers like this one remind me why I subscribe to them in the first place.  I flipped through and found picture after picture of stunning, simple layer cakes.  I decided right then and there that I was going to make one of them.  I quick scan of ingredients and techniques helped me settle on the bad boy featured on the cover of the magazine.  And I would make it in the 4 inch pan.

First the cake:  Red Velvet Cake is a strange thing.  A little chocolate, a little vanilla, a lot red.

Red Velvet Cake – Saveur Magazine Issue 145

16 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 1/2 cups cake flour (I used all-purpose and my cake ended up with a larger crumb, not quite as tender as if I had used cake flour, but moist and delicious, nonetheless)

2 tablespoons Dutch Process Cocoa Powder

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoon red food coloring

1 tablespoon distilled white vinager

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

2 eggs

Pre-heat oven 350.  Butter and flour 2 8inch cake pans (or 3 4inch cake pans).  In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powered and salt.  In another bowl whisk together buttermilk, red food coloring, white vinegar and vanilla extract.  In the bowl of an electric mixer cream together butter and sugar until light at fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly between additions. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients, beat until combined, scrape down the bowl and add 1/2 of the wet ingredients.  Beat, scrape down the bowls and repeat until all of the ingredients have been incorporated.  Beat the mixture on high for 1 minute  to develop the cakes structure.

Divide evenly between the pans and bake until a cake tester, inserted into the middle of the cake, comes out clean.  The cakes should take about 30 minutes.  Let cool completely.

The frosting was a revelation.  A little research revealed that it is a very old technique – a whipped cream frosting that contains no whipped cream.  First, you make a pudding of sorts, heating milk, sugar and flour.  Whisking and whisking until it thickens.  The cooled mixture is  beat into room temperature butter and flavored with vanilla.  The end result doesn’t resemble whipped cream at all.  It tastes like an airy vanilla pudding, a wonderful counterpart to the cake – not too sweet and a little unusual.


Whipped Cream Frosting

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/3 cup flour

1 1/2 cups milk

1 1/2 cups butter, at room temperature.

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine the sugar, flour and milk in a sauce pan.  Cook over medium high heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens.  Remove from the heat at let cool completely.  Add 1/4 of the thickened mixture to the butter.  Whisk until combined and light.  Add 1/2 of the remaining mixture and beat until light and fluffy.  Add the remaining milk mixture and beat until pale and fluffy.

Tip:  If the mixture is too liquid, put the whole thing in the fridge until firm and re-whip until fluffy.


5 Responses to “Red Velvet Cake”

  1. thePatternedPlate February 26, 2012 at 1:15 am #

    I gasped when i saw the first shot on my Read Blogs list, that looks amazing! Beautiful, in fact! And I have read about this frosting before, but am nervous to try it, though I am sorely tempted to…

    I love a cake which has vinegar and yoghurt added to a chocolate cake. It makes the crumb seductively tender….one for the to-do-immediately-list…

    need to go shopping first…out of milk!!!!!

    • heavycake February 26, 2012 at 5:08 pm #

      Make the frosting! It is easier and tastier than I could have imagined.

  2. b February 26, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    Beautiful! I wish I could taste it!

    • heavycake February 26, 2012 at 5:08 pm #

      I wish I could feed it to you!

  3. Randy Trox March 4, 2012 at 7:14 pm #

    I got the magazine and I decided that over Lent I would celebrate ‘feast days’ with a cake. Sundays are the day. Last week I did the coconut cake and it turned out very good. It looked more like a mound than a cake. The red velvet looks great. The cake took closer to 40 minutes (maybe it’s my oven). The amount of butter is jaw-dropping (5 sticks). I don’t make cake too much (like never), so maybe that’s normal.

    Great article that went with the cake, too.

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