RED Red Velvet Cake

February 17, 2012

Margaux says…

I realize that I’ve already posted a red velvet cake recipe, but I’ve found over the years that there are two red velvet cake camps: people who like their cake more chocolate-y, and people who want it to look very RED.  Well, actually, make that three camps…I’m in the very small and unpopular “red velvet cake is kind of silly” camp.  I personally don’t get the hype.  Plenty of cakes have cream cheese frosting on them, and besides, GIVE ME CHOCOLATE!  The other red velvet cake I posted is my favorite one, because it has more chocolate in it.  But I have to say, this recipe is also pretty stellar.  There is only a hint of chocolate, but the cake is so delicate and light, it just melts in your mouth.  So when a red velvet cake is requested by someone in the “RED” camp for their birthday, I make this one.  Just a warning, though…there is A LOT of red food dye in it.

The birthday girls that I made this for were born on Valentine’s Day, so of course a heart shaped cake is called for!

Before you really glob on the frosting, I highly recommend doing a thin layer of icing all over the cake first, which I’ve heard called “dirty icing” the cake. When frosting such a dark cake with white icing, it’s best to do this in order to get all the crumbs held into that first layer. Then when you add the second layer, the crumbs dont pop through. I normally don’t take time for such trivial things, but it’s really necessary with this cake, in order to have a nice looking finished cake.

My heart-shaped pans are only 8″, so we luckily had leftover batter to make cupcakes to give out as valentines. And to taste-test, of course!

He likes to eat cupcakes with a spoon-he’s always very careful not to get messy. Oh, and careful to get all the frosting!

RED Red Velvet Cake
adapted from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum

6 egg whites, room temperature
4 tablespoons red food color (two 1-oz. bottles)
3 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups sifted cake flour
2 cups superfine sugar
6 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup canola or safflower oil, room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk

1. Grease bottom of two 9-inch heart-shaped or round cake pans; top with parchment paper cut to fit. Spray with baking spray with flour. Set oven rack in the lower third of the oven; heat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk egg whites, food color and vanilla in a medium bowl until lightly combined. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cocoa and salt in a medium bowl.
2. Mix oil and butter in bowl with electric mixer on medium speed, 1 minute (they won’t completely mix together, and that’s okay). Add flour mixture and buttermilk; mix on low until dry ingredients are moistened. Raise speed to medium; beat 1 ½ minutes. Lower speed to medium-low; beat in egg mixture in two parts, raise speed to medium and beat 30 seconds each. Pour batter into the prepared pan; smooth the surface evenly.
3. Bake until cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean and cake springs back when pressed lightly around the edges, 25-35 minutes. Let cake cool in the pan on a wire rack 10 minutes. Carefully invert the cake onto a greased wire rack. Reinvert the cake so that the top side is up. Cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

I made a double recipe of this in order to ensure that I had enough to fill and frost the cake AND for my extra cupcakes I made. I ended up with a little too much. I think a single recipe would be enough for one 9″ cake, unless you like your frosting really slathered on…then maybe I would make a recipe and a half.

1 8oz package cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium-high until completely combined. Add powdered sugar and vanilla, and first beat on low until combined. Scrape down sides with rubber spatula, then mix on medium high until smooth.

For my son’s 3rd birthday, which was Spiderman themed, I made a red and blue velvet cake. I made each layer in a separate batch of cake batter, and in the blue velvet cake added almost 2 tbsp blue food coloring, and a few drops of violet, in place of the red. The few drops of violet give the cake that royal blue hue.


Margaux says….

I found this recipe years ago in Cook’s Illustrated for a coconut layer cake.  I love coconut cake, and this one looked perfect, as most “Cook’s” recipes are.  I’m just now finally getting around to making it, and I’m so thrilled I did!  The original recipe is for a 4-layer cake, but I wanted to make cupcakes so that I could share with several people, and they turned out great!  The frosting is so rich and heavenly, a cupcake is the perfect portion. 

You can find cream of coconut in the drinks section of the grocery store, or in the Mexican section, which is where I found it…Goya makes it. When you open the can, it will probably be really separated. The best way I found to fix that was by pouring it in to a medium bowl, microwaving it for 30-45 seconds, then whisking it until it’s smooth. Make sure it’s room temperature before using it.

Coconut Cupcakes
adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, April 2001

1 large egg plus 5 large egg whites
3/4 cup cream of coconut
1/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp pure coconut extract
2 1/4 cups cake flour, sifted
1 cup superfine sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp table salt
12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces, softened, but still cool

2 cups packed (about 8 oz.) sweetened shredded coconut

1. Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Line muffin tins with 24 paper muffin cups.
2. Beat egg whites and whole egg in 4-cup measuring cup with fork to combine. Add cream of coconut, water, vanilla, and coconut extract and beat with fork until thoroughly combined.
3. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Mix on lowest speed to combine, about 30 seconds. With mixer still running on lowest speed, add butter 1 piece at a time, then beat until mixture resembles coarse meal, with butter bits no larger than small peas, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes.
4. With mixer still running, add 1 cup liquid. Increase speed to medium-high, and beat until light and fluffy, about 45 seconds. With mixer still running, add remaining liquid in steady stream (this should take about 15 seconds). Stop mixer and scrape down bowl with rubber spatula, then beat at medium-high speed to combine, about 15 seconds.
5. Divide batter between muffin cups to 3/4 full. Bake until deep golden-brown, and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes (rotate pans after 10 minutes).
6. Cool in pans on wire racks about 10 minutes, then remove from muffin tins and cool on racks completely.
7. While the cakes are cooling, spread shredded coconut on rimmed baking sheet; toast in oven until shreds are a mix of golden brown and white, about 10-15 minutes, stirring 2 or 3 times. Watch closely, they get dark fast!

Coconut Buttercream
4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
pinch salt
1 lb. (4 sticks) unsalted butter, each stick cut into 6 pieces, softened, but still cool
1/4 cup cream of coconut
1 tsp pure coconut extract
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Combine whites, sugar and salt in bowl of standing mixer, set bowl over saucepan containing 1 1/2 inches barely simmering water. Whisk constantly until mixture is opaque and warm to the touch and registers about 120 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 2 minutes.
2. Transfer bowl to mixer and beat whites on high speed with whisk attachment until barely warm (about 80 degrees) and whites are glossy and sticky, about 7 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-high and beat in butter 1 piece at a time. Beat in cream of coconut and coconut and vanilla extracts. Stop mixer and scrape bottom and sides of bowl. Continue to beat at medium-high speed until well combined, about 1 minute.
3. Frost cupcakes generously with frosting. (You will probably have some left over, since this recipe is for filling and frosting a 4-layer cake. If you don’t want leftover frosting, make 3/4 of a recipe.) Top each cupcake with toasted coconut.

You can also make this cake into a 9 inch round layer cake. If you do, grease and flour 2-9 inch round cake pans or line with parchment paper. When cakes are cool, slice each layer in half horizontally, creating 4 layers. Frost each layer with about a cup (or less) of frosting in between, then frost the top and sides with the remainder. Spinkle the top of the cake with coconut. Then press the coconut into the sides.

Margaux says…

My good friend Anne’s birthday was this week, and of course I had to make her a cake.  I’ve been wanting to make this cake for awhile…ever since the cookbook its in, “Rose’s Heavenly Cakes” by Rose Levy Beranbaum, was open to its page on the counter of my pastry-chef friend Misa’s kitchen.  The cookbook is gorgeous…Rose’s cakes are stunning, and the other ones I’ve made so far are delicious.  But this particular recipe intrigued me, mainly because I think it’s fun making cakes with unlikely ingredients, like one of my favorites, chocolate Guinness cake.  Because there’s a million other cakes on my “must make” list, it took me awhile to get around to it.  But Anne asked for chocolate, and this cake immediately came to mind.

The cake is rich and dense, with a unique tangy flavor from the soup.  The ganache frosting was my favorite part about it though…very decadent.  And I had to decorate it just like the photo in the book!  I know that’s very unimaginative of me, but its just too cute to pass up.

Chocolate Tomato Cake with Mystery Ganache

from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum

~~~Be sure to make the ganache plenty of time beforehand…it takes several hours to set!~~~

1 cup plus 2 tbsp sifted unsweetened cocoa powder
1 can (1 cup) Campbell’s Tomato Soup
4 large eggs, room temp (3/4 cup)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 cups plus 2 tbsp sifted cake flour
2 cups superfine sugar**
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

Coat two 9×2″ round cake pans with shortening, then line with parchment paper, then coat with baking spray, and dust with flour. (FYI-I actually just line with parchment rounds, then coat the rounds and sides of the pans with shortening, and that always works just fine). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and set oven rack in lower third of the oven.

In a medium bowl, whisk the cocoa, tomato soup, eggs and vanilla until smooth. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and half the cocoa mixture. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to me3dium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Starting on medium-low speed, with the mixer off between additions, add the remaining cocoa mixture in two parts. Beat on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Using a silicone spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pans, being sure to press the thick and fluffy batter against the sides of the pans, and smooth the surfaces evenly.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes (check a little early…mine was done in 29 minutes), or until a cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean. The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven.

Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Run a small metal spatula between the sides of the pans and the cakes, pressing firmly against the pans, and invert the cakes onto wire racks that have been coated lightly with cooking spray. Re-invert them right side up to prevent splitting. Cool completely.

Mystery Ganache

12 oz. dark chocolate, 60%-62% cacao, chopped
12 oz. (almost 1 1/2 cups) heavy cream
1/4 cup Campbell’s Tomato Soup
1 tube red tinted buttercream (it’s fine to use the Wilton tubed variety) (optional)
2 cans 4″ Pirouette Rolled Wafer Cookies, preferably Pepperidge Farms (optional)

In a food processor, process the chocolate until very fine. In a 4 cup or larger microwaveable cup with a spout (or in a medium saucepan, stirring often), whisk together the cream and tomato soup and scald it (heat it to boiling point; small bubbles will form around the periphery).

With the motor of a food processor running, pour the cream mixture through the feed tube in a steady stream. Process for a few se3conds until smooth. Scrape the ganache into a glass bowl and allow it to sit for 1 hour. Cover it with plastic wrap and allow it to cool at room temperature for several hours, or until the mixture reaches frosting consistency (I finally stuck it in the fridge for a few hours…just make sure you check it every once in awhile so it doesn’t get too thick!). The ganache keeps for 3 days at room temperature, for 3 weeks refrigerated, and for 6 months frozen.

Compose the cake:
When the cakes are completely cool, spread a little ganache on a serving plate and set the first layer on top. Slide a few wide strips of wax paper or parchment under the cake to keep the rim of the plate clean. Spread about 1 cup of the ganache over the layer. Place the second layer on top and use the remainder to frost the top and sides. With the tip of a 1 1/4″ wide metal spatula, make wavy lines through the ganache on top of the cake. Slowly slide the paper strips from under the cake. If storing the cake under a cake dome, allow the ganache to set for a minimum of 3 hours or overnight before applying the Pirouettes or the moisture from the ganache will soften them.

To surround the cake with the Pirouettes, you may first have to trim them to 4 inches (I didn’t, and I wish I would have), using a small serrated knife. Repair any broken ones using ganache and press them gently against the sides of the cake. The ganache will hold them in place. If desired, pipe little flames of red buttercream on top of each Pirouette.

**My cakes would sometimes (a lot of times, actually) be really dense at the bottom, and light at the top, and wouldn’t be as high as they should have been. I started looking into it, and learned that sugar actually varies by region; some places coarser than others. If your sugar is too coarse, it will cause the cake to fall, creating a dense, sort of custardy cake. I guess I live in a coarse sugar region. So the solve is to either process your sugar in a blender (not a food processor) for a few pulses until it’s finer (but be careful not to do too many pulses, because it will start to turn into powdered sugar), or buy superfine sugar, available at most grocery stores.