Saturday, August 15, 2009

Southern Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

A while ago, I got an order for a red velvet cake. So the day before the cake was being delivered, I made it. Let's just say everything that could go wrong, went wrong. The buttermilk powder wouldn't break up. I ran out of flower in the middle of baking. An egg fell on the floor. But, in the end, it turned out well. I made the basic cream cheese frosting that was with the recipe for the cake. That turned out well, too. If you are crumbling the pieces of cake left over from leveling the layers and putting them on the sides like I did, you don't have to worry about the frosting being smooth, because the crumbs will cover it up.

Southern Red Velvet Cake (
2 1/2 cups ap flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. fine salt
1 tsp. cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons red food coloring (1 ounce)
1 tsp. white distilled vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
cream cheese frosting, recipe follows
crushed pecans, for garnish (or you can use cake crumbs like I did)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil and flour 3 (9 by 1 1/2-inch round) cake pans. (I used two 9 by 3? round cake pans and it worked fine.)
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In another large bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla.
Using a stand mixer, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and a smooth batter is formed.
Divide the cake batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Place the pans in the oven evenly spaced apart. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through the cooking, until the cake pulls away from the side of the pans, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes. 
Remove the cakes from the oven and run a knife around the edges to loosen them from the sides of the pans. One at a time, invert the cakes onto a plate and then re-invert them onto a cooling rack, rounded-sides up. Let cool completely.
Frost the cake. Place 1 layer, rounded-side don, in the middle of a rotating cake stand (or level it, if you are using crumbs to decorate the cake). Using a palette knife or offset spatula spread some of the cream cheese frosting over the top of the cake. (Spread enough frosting to make a 1/4 to 1/2-inch layer.) Carefully set another layer on top, rounded-side down, (or leveled) and repeat. Top with the remaining layer and cover the entire cake with the remaining frosting. Sprinkle the top with pecans. (Or crumble the scraps of cake left from leveling the layers and press them into the sides or top of the cake.)

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 pound cream cheese, softened
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cups), softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand-held electric mixer in a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, sugar, and butter on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high, and mix until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. (Occasionally turn the mixer off, and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.)
Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Add the vanilla, raise the speed to high and mix briefly until fluffy (scrape down the bowl occasionally). Store in the refrigerator until somewhat stiff, before using. May be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days. 
Yield: enough to frost a 3 layer (9-inch) cake.

Start baking!

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