Thursday, December 15, 2011

Making My Own Birthday Cake - Red Velvet Cake

UPDATE: click this link [Red Velvet Cake - Encore] for an updated recipe and tips for covering the cake with red velvet cake crumbs. Nyum!

Remember I mentioned making 2 red velvet cakes for my birthday cake in my previous post? Well since I had the honour of making the cake twice in one day, it would naturally make sense to share this tried and tested recipe with all of you.

This recipe is taken from Joy of Baking, however I prefer my own version of the cream cheese topping. If you want to refer to the original recipe for the topping - click on the link.

As the website explains, the Red Velvet Cake is very dramatic looking with its bright red color that is offset by a creamy white frosting. If we look beyond the striking appearance of this Red Velvet Cake, we will find that it has a mild chocolate flavor with a moist and tender crumb. The mild chocolate flavor comes from adding a small amount of cocoa powder to the batter and buttermilk gives it a moist and tender crumb.

Some tips and tricks from yours truly:
  • I prefer a deep red colour, but if you do not like it, go easy on the red colouring.
  • If you do not have buttermilk, you can make your own (see recipe below).
  • The recipe mentions lining the baking tins with baking paper. The reason why I had to make my birthday cake twice was because I did not line the baking tins properly therefore the paper left indentations on my cake and it wasn't a perfect circle. So the second time round I decided to forego the baking paper and just greased and floured the tins generously.
  • The recipe also calls for cooling or freezing the cake before assembling it. I have honestly never popped them into the fridge. I usually leave them to cool on a wire rack. Heck, I have even tried to spread the cream cheese on a warm cake (it was past midnight on the night before Eid and I really wanted to go to bed) - just make sure you coat the cake quickly and pop them into the fridge to set.
  • And last but not least, the cake is definitely best served cold and a day old. Somehow the red velvet cake tastes better after a night in the fridge so don't be too particularly worried if you're having the first slice of your invention an hour after your baking is completed and it does not taste too particularly good. Thus, if you're planning to serve this for an occasion, you should bake and assemble the cake a day or two earlier.
Anyhow, here's the recipe. Enjoy!

Red Velvet Cake:
2 1/2 cups (250 grams) sifted cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
tablespoons (15 grams) of cocoa powder (I used Van Houten)
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk
2 tablespoons liquid red food coloring
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 175 degrees C and place rack in center of oven. Butter two - 9 inch (23 cm) round cake pans and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper. Set aside. In a mixing bowl sift together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside. In bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until soft (about 1-2 minutes). Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.

In a measuring cup whisk the buttermilk with the red food coloring. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk to the butter mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.

In a small cup combine the vinegar and baking soda. Allow the mixture to fizz and then quickly fold into the cake batter. Working quickly, divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans and smooth the tops with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 25 - 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Place a wire rack on top of the cake pan and invert, lifting off the pan. 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.)

Buttermilk Recipe:
Add 1 tablespoon of white distilled vinegar, cider vinegar, or lemon juice to 1 cup (240 ml) of milk. Let this mixture stand 5 to 10 minutes before using

Cream Cheese Frosting:
200ml cream cheese, room temperature
250ml heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup confectioners' (icing or powdered) sugar, sifted

Combine everything in the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, and beat until stiff peaks form.

Assemble: With a serrated knife, cut each cake layer in half, horizontally. You will now have four cake layers. Place one of the cake layers, top of the cake facing down, onto your serving platter. Spread the cake layer with a layer of frosting. Place another layer of cake on top of the frosting and continue to frost and stack the cake layers. Frost the top and sides of the cake. Can garnish the cake with sweetened or unsweetened coconut. Serves 10 - 12 people.

Sugar and butter.

Sifted flour, cocoa powder and salt.
Mixing the red colouring into the mixture. Excuse the mixer, it is my Mum's and has been with us for as long as I can remember. (Hubby, where's my Kitchen Aid mixer??!!)

Ooohhh, I just love the strong red colour.

Dividing it into the two cake tins.

Make sure you shake the tin to even the batter out. This is not how it should look like!

Completely optional: licking the mixer bowl clean. I do that all the time! Nyum!!!

Lesson learnt - always bake the cakes on the same baking rack. If not, the one on the bottom will be somehow a bit undercooked. Ignore this if you are completely confident of your oven capabilities *grin*

Cut each cake layer with a serrated knife (not a cook's knife as shown in the picture above).

And then it becomes two.

And then it becomes four!

I am not particularly proud of this picture - my very first Red Velvet cake, probably over 6 months ago?

Not a pretty sight. But in the end, practice makes perfect.

Fancy a slice?

How it looks inside - although I highly recommend being very generous with the cream cheese on each layer so that when you cut a slice, you can clearly see the cream cheese between each layer.

You can also try layering the cake with chocolate sauce.

These are pictures from my second try. Two layers of chocolate, one layer of cream cheese and of course the outer cream cheese frosting. Absolutely delish!

That's my aunt frosting the cake.

Told you practice makes perfect. Definitely better for a second try.

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