This Red Velvet Cake begins a small series of cakes devoted to Valentines Day.
Cakes that look and taste like love.
Cakes that say, "If you eat me, you will fall in love tonight."
At least, you'll fall in love with cake tonight.
I was pleased with the results: a moist, very red cake. (and I only added 1.5 oz red food coloring, when the recipe called for 2. And ounce of food coloring may not sound like very much, but it's a whole bottle, people!)
The recipe specifies sifting the cake flour before measuring, and then again with the dry ingredients. The way I measure flour now in general is pouring it into the measuring cup from another container and then leveling the top. In general this gives a more accurate measure, though the recipe may indicate the method preferable. I think many people inadvertently end up with too much flour in their batters when they scoop because it can pack too much in the cup measure. This will result in drier cakes.
My favorite method is weighing, though. I wish more recipes listed ingredients by weight. Which reminds me, I need a new battery for my kitchen scale.
2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 t baking powder
1 t salt
2 T cocoa powder (unsweetened)
2 oz red food coloring
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temp
1 t vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, room temp
1 t white vinegar
1 t baking soda
Preheat to 350. Butter and flour 2 9-in round cake pans.
Sift together cake flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, mix together food coloring and cocoa powder to form a smooth, thin paste. I like this part. It feels like mixing paint.
In a large bowl, using a mixer, beat butter and sugar together until fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then vanilla, then the red cocoa paste, scraping the bowl as needed. Add one third of the flour mixture, then 1/2 the buttermilk and so on, alternating the two. Scrape and beat well.
Keep your prepared pans close and combine the baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl. Add it to the cake batter and stir until well combined. Now, you want to get these cakes into the oven as fast as possible now, so divide between your pans quickly. Bake for 25-30 min (mine may have taken closer to 20; our oven runs hot). Check early and remove when a poking implement poked in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Cool the cakes for 15-20 minutes and remove to a wire rack. Let cool completely before frosting with Cream Cheese Frosting!
Cream Cheese Frosting
My general recipe involves 1 pound of cream cheese, 2 sticks of butter, vanilla and almost 2 pounds of confectioners sugar. This time I reigned in the sugar a bit and I liked the result of a thinner, tangier frosting. So beat together your softened cream cheese and butter, beat in 1 or 2 t of vanilla, then gradually add SIFTED confectioner's sugar until you have the taste and consistency you like.
When frosting a red velvet cake, the crumb coat is especially important, especially if you trim the layers to make them even. Those little red crumbs are just dying to show up on the surface, so trap them in a thin coat of frosting and refrigerate for 10 minutes or so before smoothing on your final layer of frosting.
Because it's V-day week, I wanted to put a heart of crumbs on top of my cake for decoration. I frosted the top as smooth as possible, then cut a heart out of the middle of a 9-in circle of parchment paper. I froze the cake while I messed with the paper so the icing wouldn't be as sticky.
I placed the heart paper on top of the cake and patted crumbs I got from trimming the layers on to the frosting in the heart-shape.
When I had a nice, thick coat of crumbs, I carefully peeled back the paper and Voila! Heart cake.