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…

You can’t have Halloween without sugar cookie cut-outs.  Actually, you can’t have Christmas or Valentine’s Day without them either, if you ask me.  This sugar cookie recipe is my absolute favorite.  Aunt Suzy gave it to me when I was 11 years old…it came along with a bunch of other “must have” recipes, a recipe box (that I still use, by the way), a large pot for steaming or cooking pasta (which I also still have, and still use), and “how to cook” tapes made by her.  Other than the pasta cooker and the recipe box, this recipe is what I have used the most out of that gift. I love that she was the first person to get me interested in cooking! It was like we were destined to have a blog together someday (although, that word didn’t even exist in 1988).

I think this recipe is my favorite because of the addition of sour cream and nutmeg.  The cookies turn out crisp, but not too crisp, and have great flavor.  They’re perfect with vanilla frosting, which is what I prefer to use over royal icing or a powdered sugar and milk glaze-type icing.  They may not look as perfect with the frosting over the icing that turns hard and smooth, but they sure taste better!

Sugar Cookies

4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Set aside. Cream together butter, sugar, egg and vanilla. Add flour alternately with sour cream. Form dough into ball. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 6 hours to overnight. Divide dough into 4 parts. Preheat oven at 375 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper, or grease them. Roll out dough to 1/4″ thick. Cut with cookie cutter. Bake plain or with sugar on top (if you’re not icing), 10-12 minutes. Remove from cookie sheets and cool on cooling rack. Frost.

Vanilla Frosting

4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2-4 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla

Cream butter in stand mixer with paddle attachment. Add powdered sugar, beat until mixture is starting to clump together in pea-sized clumps. Add vanilla and 2 tbsp milk, beat on high speed until creamy and uniform (scrape down sides of bowl as needed). Add more milk if needed, and food coloring if desired. Frost cookies, let sit for about an hour so that the frosting will set (but it won’t get completely hard because of the butter). If adding sanding sugar or sprinkles, do so right away before the frosting gets a hard crust on top.

Margaux says . . .

I always make my sister-in-law a heart-shaped cake for her birthday, since her birthday is on February 16th. When we were in high school and college, it was usually the cake my grandma always made for Valentine’s day, Martha Washington cherry cake, which was basically a white cake with cherry chips and pecans in it, and pink 7-minute frosting. Now I get more sophisticated. This year I made her a cake from my latest favorite cake book, Rose Levy Berenbaum’s “Rose’s Heavenly Cakes.” I’m a little obsessed with it, and have made several cakes from it in the past few months, including these.

All the cakes I’ve made from this book are amazing, including this one. The cake is incredibly moist, made even more rich and moist by poking holes in it and brushing glaze over it. It’s best served with chilled whipped cream.

Double Chocolate Valentine
adapted from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Berenbaum

the cake
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp sifted unsweetened (alkalized) cocoa powder
1/2 cup boiling water
4 large egg yolks, room temperature
3 tbsp water, room temperature
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tbsp sifted cake flour
1 cup superfine sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
9 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature

Grease one 9 by 2-inch heart shaped or round cake pan, line bottom with parchment paper, then coat with baking spray and cocoa powder or flour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk the cocoa and boiling water until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent evaporation and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. To speed cooling, place it in the refrigerator. Bring it to room temperature before proceeding.

In another bowl, whisk the yolks, the 3 tablespoons of water, and the vanilla just until lightly combined.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and the cocoa mixture. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Starting on medium-low speed, gradually add the egg mixture in two parts, beating on a 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 pan and smooth the surface.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a wire cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center.

While the cake is baking, prepare the glaze.

the ganache glaze
3 oz. dark chocolate, 60-62% cacao, chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream

In a food processor, process the chocolate until very fine. In a one cup or larger microwavable cup with a spout (or in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring often), scald the cream (heat it to boiling point; small bubbles will form around the edges).

With the motor of the food processor running, pour the cream through the feed tube in a steady stream. Process for a few seconds until smooth. Scrape the ganache into a small bowl and set it in a warm spot.

As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, place the pan on a wire rack, poke holes all over the top with a wooden skewer, and use a brush to dabble half of the ganache glaze onto the cake. It will take about 10 minutes. Run a small metal spatula around the sides of the pan and the cake, pressing firmly against the pan, and invert the cake onto a flat surface, such as a cardboard round or plate, covered in plastic wrap (you absolutely must use the plastic wrap…I didn’t and really regretted it!). Peel off and discard the parchment and poke holes all over. Dabble with the remaining glaze, brushing a little onto the sides of the cake as well. Cool completely, for 1 or more hours, or until the chocolate is firm to the touch. Invert the cake onto another cardboard round or completely flat plate covered with plastic wrap. It is now top side up with plastic wrap sticking to it. Peel off the plastic wrap, then reinvert the cake onto a serving plate so that it is bottom side up; remove the remaining plastic wrap.

the raspberry topping
2 pints fresh raspberries
1/4 cup red currant jelly or apple jelly

Starting at the outside border and working in toward the center, place the raspberries closely together to cover the surface of the cake. In a microwave, or small heavy saucepan over low heat, melt the jelly. Use a small clean brush to paint the jelly glaze onto the raspberries.

the whipped cream
1 cup heavy cream, cold
1 tbsp superfine sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the cream, sugar, and vanilla and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. (Chill the mixer’s whisk beater alongside the bowl.) Whip the mixture, starting on low speed, gradually raising the speed to medium-high as it thickens, just until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised.