Saturday, February 26, 2011

Red Velvet Cake & Mini Vacation

February seems to be my month to slack off on posting. I checked last year's February foodie posts and found the same thing. There appears to be a pattern forming, however I promise to get my baking buns back in the saddle soon.

Last weekend I had the wonderful pleasure of celebrating a friend's birthday on the Oregon Coast. If you haven't visited the Oregon Coast yet, put it on your bucket list. Seriously. It is a magical, wonderful, amazingly beautiful place with far fewer visitors than you think and a plethora of activities for everyone.

I call this the bowling team/gaming crew. Don't we look like a motley, crazy bunch? And yes, we had ridiculous amounts of fun. :)

The birthday boy requested a red velvet cake as his present. Have you ever made a red velvet cake? Do a web search for a recipe and start reading, it will likely intimidate you. This is how I felt embarking upon my red velvet quest.

I ended up going with a Smitten Kitchen recipe for the cake and a cream cheese frosting recipe from Joy of Baking. While I did do some minor tweaking to both recipes, I tried to leave them more or less intact. The one big change is that I added a raspberry whipped cream layer inside the cake (also adapted from a Joy of Baking recipe). The cake was delicious, however a little too dense for my taste (am not sure if this was due to letting the baking soda/vinegar bubble too long). As with all red velvet cakes, it tasted so much better after letting it sit for a day in the fridge.

And sorry for the poor photograph, blame the iphone. This is the only shot I managed to capture of the inside of the cake prior to it being demolished. Enjoy!

Red Velvet Cake
Adapted from: SmittenKitchen
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3 1/2 cups cake flour (sifted)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup strawberry applesauce 
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons (1.5 ounces) red food coloring
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract 
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place teaspoon of butter in each of 3 round 9-inch layer cake pans and place pans in oven for a few minutes until butter melts. Remove pans from oven, brush interior bottom and sides of each with butter and line bottoms with parchment.

Sift together cake flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl (this is in addition to the pre-sift for the flour).

Place oil, applesauce, and sugars in bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until well-blended. Beat in eggs one at a time. With machine on low, very slowly add red food coloring. (Take care: it may splash.) Add vanilla and almond extracts . Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches. Scrape down bowl and beat just long enough to combine.

Place baking soda in a small dish, stir in vinegar and add to batter with machine running. Beat for 10 seconds.

Divide batter among pans, place in oven and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes (watch closely as mine tended to overcook). Let cool in pans 20 minutes. Then remove from pans, flip layers over and peel off parchment. Cool completely before frosting.

Raspberry Whipped Cream Frosting Layer 
Adapted from: Joy of Baking 
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1/2 cup slightly sweetened raspberry puree or jam 
In a large mixing bowl, place the whipping cream, vanilla, and sugar and stir to combine. Cover and chill in the bowl with the wire whisk in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. When chilled, beat the mixture until soft peaks form. Then add the raspberry puree/jam, a little at a time, and beat just until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised. Taste and fold in more jam or sugar as needed.

Mascarpone Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from: Joy of Baking 
  • 1 - 8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 - 8 oz tub of mascarpone cheese at room temperature 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted 
  • 1 1/2 cups cold heavy whipping cream 
In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and mascarpone cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla and confectioners sugar and beat until smooth. Using the whisk attachment, gradually add the heavy cream and whip until the frosting is thick enough to spread. Add more sugar or cream as needed to obtain the right consistency.

Assemble the cake: After the cake layers have cooled, place one of the cake layers on the serving plate as the base layer. Thickly spread the raspberry whipped cream layer over the top of the base cake layer. Place in the freezer for at least 10 minutes to let the cake set up. Take the chilled cake out of the freezer and stack the next cake layer on top of the cooled whipped cream layer. Then add a thick layer of the mascarpone cream cheese frosting on top. Again place it in the freezer for at least 10 minutes to set up the frosting. Finally add the top cake layer to the stack, and finish by frosting the top and sides of the cake. I tend to make this fairly heavy and thick. Place the cake back in the freezer for at least 15 minutes, then remove and decorate as desired. Refrigerate the cake until nearly ready to serve. Prior to serving, remove the cake from the fridge and leave it at room temperature for at least 20 minutes prior to serving.

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