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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Red Velvet Cake

A strikingly looking cake with an unexpected hint of chocolate flavor. Its only caveat is that you are left with a lot of bowls to wash. It's all worth it, though :). Recipe from Joy of Baking, of course.


For the cake:
2 1/2 cups (250 g) flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons (15 g) Dutch-processed cocoa powder*
1/2 cup (113 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (300 g) sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk**
2 tablespoons liquid red food coloring
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda

* As a substitute use 2 tablespoons natural cocoa and throw in a pinch of baking soda.
** Or, to make your own, stir 1 tablespoon of vinegar into 1 cup of milk, and let it sit for 10 minutes before using.

For the frosting:
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) heavy whipping cream
16 oz (450 g) cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (115 g) confectioners' (icing or powdered) sugar


For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C) and place rack in center of oven.
Butter two 9 inch (23 cm) round cake pans and set them aside.
In a mixing bowl sift (this is one of those recipes where sifting *is* important!) together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside.

In a separate bowl beat the butter until soft.
Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.

In a separate cup whisk the buttermilk with the red food coloring.
With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and the red buttermilk 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.
Speed is of the essence here, as your only rising agent is the vinegar-soda mix, and it dissipates quickly.

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 for 10 minutes, then invert them on a wire rack and cool completely. Once completely cooled, wrap cakes in plastic wrap and place them in the freezer for at least an hour. (This is done to make filling and frosting the cakes easier.)

For the frosting:
Beat the cream cheese until smooth.
Add the vanilla and confectioners' sugar and process until smooth.

In a separate bowl (I told you there are too many bowls!) whip the cream until stiff peaks form.
With a large spatula, gently but quickly fold a little of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture to lighten it.
Then fold in the remaining whipped cream, in two stages.

Recipe advises to place the frosting in the refrigerator for an hour if it is not thick enough to spread, but I've never had that problem.

To assemble:
With a serrated knife, cut each cake layer horizontally in half to get four layers.
Place one of the cake layers, top facing down, onto a plate.
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.
Garnish with coconut if desired.

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