The American masterpiece of flavors- Red Velvet Cake! It is a moist cake with a hint of chocolate, butter, vanilla and buttermilk. Made from scratch.
If you’re anything like us, nothing says “celebration” like a good, old fashioned layer cake. Whether you’re offering chiffon cake with whipped cream and sliced fruit between the layers, chocolate cake smothered in chocolate ganache or simply yellow cake with delicious buttercream frosting, I’ll definitely have a slice (or two!).
Boston cream cake, lemon layer cake, nutty spiced cakes and carrot cake all fall under my list of favorites. The past few years have seen the cake industry experiment with vegetables and fruit like never before. Sweet potato cake, chocolate beetroot cake and spicy butternut cake are no strangers to the cafe scene. But my very favorite cake, which I consider to be the crowning jewel of the layer cake industry, would have to be red velvet cake.
Red velvet cake is a perfect tea time snack or dinner time dessert for the festive season because of its bold, bright red color, adorned with creamy white layers of frosting. But don’t judge a book by its cover, the exuberant color of red velvet cake comes from none other than beetroot. Synthetic red food coloring no more! For those who have not yet solved the mystery, the almost unidentifiable balance of flavors that makes up red velvet cake comes from a quintuplet of delicious ingredients.
No more than a taste of chocolate, a generous helping of creamy buttermilk, a touch of pure vanilla and a healthy serving of butter contribute to the density and deliciousness known as red velvet cake. As you may already know, the red velvet cake is slathered in the best frosting of them all – cream cheese frosting!
There are a few hacks that will ensure your red velvet cake is just as great as the one you would pick up from the bakery.
The first, make sure that you’re using white cake flour. Not white bread flour. Not whole wheat flour, and definitely not self raising flour. Cake flour is what will give the cake a beautiful balance between density and lightness. Self raising flour is too light, white bread flour is too heavy. White cake flour is just right! It isn’t hard to find cake flour. It’s right there in the baking aisle. Go get it!
An important trick your grandmother may have taught you is to replace cooking oil with butter to make your cakes taste like their bakery counterparts. Another trick, if the recipe calls for water, is to use milk instead. There’s nothing like dairy to make things creamy and delicious! You may choose to use only creamed butter in the red velvet recipe, or a combination of oil and butter. The butter is essential for both the density and the flavor. Do not, under any circumstances, exchange butter for margarine! Real, farm style butter is what will make your red velvet cake a dessert to remember.
To achieve a mild chocolaty flavor, use no more than 20 ml of cocoa powder. Make sure that it’s natural, unsweetened cocoa powder that you’re adding to the red velvet cake batter, as anything else will cause the chocolate flavor to become overpowering. When in doubt, remember that it’s the subtlety of the four flavors that work together to create the magic that is red velvet cake.
Next, don’t forget the buttermilk! It is essential for the flavor combination, the density and the velvety texture we all know and love. If you’re out of buttermilk, or you’re in the mood to make the cake from scratch, you can make your own buttermilk at home. Here’s how:
As you may have noticed, the texture is a really key element in making red velvet cake the delicious treat that it is. Another way to secure the perfect density is to approach the eggs with care. The recipe requires two eggs and I recommend that you gradually add them to the mixture. Also exchange the regular white sugar for castor sugar to add to the smooth texture of the cake and make sure you’re using baking powder, and not baking soda in the recipe to make sure the red velvet cake rises nicely.
Carve off a layer of the cake and crumble it to garnish the top of the cake. The contrast of red crumbs against white cream cheese frosting is beautifully romantic and perfect for any special occasion.
On that note, let’s talk about the frosting! First off, make sure that you choose the best quality, high fat cream cheese you can find. Philadelphia Cream Cheese is amazing for those of you who are able to find it.
While cream cheese icing is the traditional choice, chocolate ganache, whipped cream and strawberries or lemon buttercream are all interesting ways to shake up your take on red velvet cake.
If you’re lucky enough to have a few slices of red velvet cake left over, there are a couple of delicious things you can do. Cake pops are top of the list! Crumble the leftovers and shape them into balls, covered in cream cheese frosting and dipped in extra crumbs.
HOW TO MAKE RED VELVET CAKE
- CAKE BATTER
- Part 1
- Sifted cake flour- 2½ cup
- Cocoa powder ( unsweetened)- 2 tbsp
- Salt- ½ tsp
- Part 2
- Castor sugar- 1½ cup or 300 gm
- Unsalted butter (at room temperature)- ½ cup or 115 gm
- Eggs- 2 large
- Vegetable oil- 1 cup
- Pure Vanilla extract- 1 tsp
- Part 3
- Buttermilk- 1 cup 240 ml
- Red food coloring liquid (not gel)-3 tbsp
- White vinegar- 1 tsp
- Baking powder ( not baking soda) - 1 tsp
- FROSTING FOR RED VELVET CAKE
- Philadelphia Cream Cheese- 1½ cup or 300 gm
- Heavy cooking cream ( 35,1 %) or whipping cream- 2½ cups
- Vanilla extract/essence- 1 tsp
- Icing sugar- 1 cup
- Blueberries- ½ cup
- Preheat your oven to 170 C/ 350 F. Place the rack in the center of the oven.
- Spray or generously butter 2 x 9"( 23 cm) round cake pans. I also lined the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper. If you don't have parchment paper, use foil.
- In a large bowl sift the ingredients from Part 1 :flour, cocoa, salt. Set aside.
- Now we will work with the ingredients from
- Part 2:butter, sugar,eggs,vanilla extract.
- Place the butter and sugar in a bowl of your electrical mixer with paddle attachment & beat the mixture on high speed until light, smooth, creamy and fluffy.( 2-3 minutes). Scrape down the sides using a spatula. Add vegetable oil and continue beating on high for another 2 minutes. Gradually add eggs (one at a time). Beat well to combine.
- Add vanilla extract and mix after addition.
- Part 3: buttermilk, food coloring, baking powder, vinegar.
- In a cup ( I used a measuring one for convenience) whisk the buttermilk with the red food coloring. Mix the vinegar and baking soda in a small bowl. When the mixture starts fizzing, pour quickly into the buttermilk.
- Add the buttermilk mixture and flour to the butter mixture in three additions. Start with the flour.
- Divide batter evenly & pour into cake pans. Bake 25-30 minutes in the center of the oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.
- Do not overbake, you will end with dry cakes.
- CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- Beat heavy cream/ whipping cream with ½ cup sugar . Beat/whisk just until the cream reaches stiff peaks.
- Beat the cream cheese with the remaining ½ cup sugar until smooth. Add vanilla extract.
- Gently fold cream cheese mixture into the whipped cream mixture.
- The frosting is ready!
- ASSEMBLING THE RED VELVET CAKE
- Using a sharp knife, cut each cake layer in half ( horizontally). You will get 4 cake layers.
- Spread each cake layer with a layer of frosting. Spread top and sides with the frosting too.
- I used some crumble off-cuts to decorate the top & blueberries for the bottom.
2 x 9" cake pans, a stand mixer/ hand mixer, a spatula, parchment paper.
Enjoy this red velvet cake!