Monday, February 20, 2012

Red Velvet Cake

The March issue of Saveur magazine has the most gorgeous Red Velvet Cake on the cover.
And when it hit our mailbox, I knew I had to make it.

Preferably make it and bring it somewhere, to share all those fantastically delicious calories with dear friends.  Cake should always be shared, particularly when you're not able to run high mileage because of a stupid injury.

Our friends Mark and Robin had us over for dinner Saturday night, and being a southern gal Robin was delighted to have us bring this cake for dessert.  Perfect.

I also got to try out my new Evenbake Cake Strips, which you soak in water and wrap around the outside of cake pans to help them bake evenly.

They worked great.  I also decided that as long as the cake strips fit around my waist I can continue to bake and eat cake.

Red Velvet Cake
From Saveur magazine, March 2012.  Instead of the cream cheese frosting typically used for red velvet cake, this one uses a whipped cream frosting.  I loved how both the cake and the frosting were not overly sweet.

For the cake:
16 Tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
375 grams (2 1/2 cups) cake flour
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 Tablespoons red food coloring
1 Tablespoon distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
300 grams (1 1/2 cups) granulated sugar
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare two 8-inch cake pans (butter and flour, or use Pam baking spray).

Sift together the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and kosher salt.

Whisk together the buttermilk, red food coloring, vinegar and vanilla.  I used two tubes of red gel food coloring, which was not quite the 2 Tablespoons called for in the recipe.  The batter looked plenty red to me, and even if I had more food coloring in the house, I'm not sure I could've brought myself to put more in the batter.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy (about 3 minutes).  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each.  With the mixer on low, add about a third of the flour and mix well.  Add about half of the buttermilk mixture and mix well (and stand back a little, in case you have some spattering from the mixer).  Repeat, ending with the flour.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans.

Drop the pans lightly on the counter, to remove air bubbles.

Bake until done, about 30 minutes.  The top should spring back and a toothpick inserted into the cake should come out clean.  Cool the cakes in the pan on a wire rack for about 20 minutes.
Then turn out onto the wire rack to cool completely.

For the frosting:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Whisk together the sugar and flour in a 4 quart saucepan; whisk in the milk and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Continue whisking over medium-high heat the mixture until is thick and pudding-like, about 5 minutes.  Set aside and let it cool completely.

In a stand mixer, cream together the butter and about a quarter of the pudding on medium-high speed until smooth (about a minute).  Add the rest of the pudding in two additions, beating well after each.  Add the vanilla and increase the speed to high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Assemble the cake:
Place one layer on a platter or cake stand and spread a generous amount of frosting over the top.  Place the other layer on top and apply a very thin layer of frosting to the top and sides.  This is only the "crumb coat" that will be covered with another layer of frosting, which will ensure none of the lovely red cake crumbs will mottle the beautiful white frosting.

Refrigerate the cake for 20-30 minutes to allow the crumb coat of frosting to harden a bit.  Then apply another layer of frosting to the entire cake.

Cut and enjoy with terrific friends.

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