Red Velvet Cake:
2 1/2 cups (250 grams) sifted cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons (15 grams) regular or Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk
2 tablespoons liquid red food coloring
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda
Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 - 8 ounce (227 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
1 - 8 ounce (227 grams) tub of Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (115 grams) confectioners' (icing or powdered) sugar, sifted
1 1/2 (360 ml) cups cold heavy whipping cream (double cream) (35-40% butterfat)
Red Velvet Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Butter two - 9 inch (23 cm) round cake pans and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl sift together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside.
In bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until soft (about 1-2 minutes). Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.
In a measuring cup whisk the buttermilk with the red food coloring. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk to the butter mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.
In a small cup combine the vinegar and baking soda. Allow the mixture to fizz and then quickly fold into the cake batter.
Working quickly, divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans and smooth the tops with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 25 - 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Place a wire rack on top of the cake pan and invert, lifting off the pan. Once the cakes have completely cooled, wrap in plastic and place the cake layers in the refrigerator for at least an hour (or overnight). (This is done to make filling and frosting the cakes easier.)
Cream Cheese Frosting: 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 get the right consistency.
Assemble: With a serrated knife, cut each cake layer in half, horizontally. You will now have four cake layers. Place one of the cake layers, top of the cake facing down, onto your serving platter. Spread the cake layer with a layer of frosting. Place another layer of cake on top of the frosting and continue to frost and stack the cake layers. Frost the top and sides of the cake. Can garnish the cake with sweetened or unsweetened coconut.
Serves 10 - 12 people.
Note: You must use a brand of heavy cream that whips very easily to stiff peaks. If you are using a brand of heavy cream that does not whip easily to stiff peaks then whip the heavy cream separately to stiff peaks and then fold it into the cream cheese mixture.
A Red Velvet Cake is very dramatic looking with its bright red color that is offset by a creamy white frosting. There are many theories as to its origin. Some say it comes from the South, others say it originated in the North. All we really know is that it has been a favorite for decades, not only in the States but also in Canada (it used to be sold in Eaton's Department Stores). It is really a Devil's Food Cake that has red food coloring added to it. John Mariani tells us in his book "The Dictionary of American Food and Drink" that the name 'Devil's Food Cake' is so called "because it is supposedly so rich and delicious that it must, to a moralist, be somewhat sinful."
If we look beyond the striking appearance of this Red Velvet Cake, we will find that it has a mild chocolate flavor with a moist and tender crumb. The mild chocolate flavor comes from adding a small amount of cocoa powder to the batter and buttermilk gives it a moist and tender crumb. If you are not familiar with buttermilk it has a nice thick creamy texture with a rich tangy buttery taste that makes baked goods tender. You can make your own buttermilk by adding 1 tablespoon of white distilled vinegar, cider vinegar, or lemon juice to 1 cup (240 ml) of milk. Let this mixture stand 5 to 10 minutes before using.
Once the Red Velvet Cake layers have been baked and cooled, I find it is best to place the cake layers in the refrigerator (for several hours) or freezer (for at least an hour) before frosting. This extra step makes the spreading of the frosting a much easier task as a freshly baked cake is quite fragile and when you try to spread the frosting there is a tendency for the cake to tear. Refrigerating or freezing the cake first eliminates this problem. In fact, you may want to bake the cakes the day before you need them and then you can just place the cakes in the fridge overnight to firm up.
The type of frosting used on a Red Velvet Cake can vary. While I have used a Cream Cheese Frosting, other recipes often call for a 7-Minute Frosting or even a White Confectioners Frosting. Recently I found a new cream cheese frosting that I like very much and I have included it here. It still uses cream cheese but it also contains mascarpone cheese, which is an Italian cheese that is thick, buttery-rich, delicately sweet and velvety, ivory-colored cheese produced from cow's milk. Its texture is similar to that of sour cream. It is sold in plastic 8-ounce tubs and you can usually find it in specialty food stores or in the deli section of your local grocery store. If you cannot find Mascarpone just use regular cream cheese instead, which means using 16 ounces of cream cheese altogether. Besides the cream cheese and mascarpone, this frosting also contains whipped cream so you end up with a soft and creamy frosting. The frosting recipe is adapted from 'The Waldorf-Astoria Cookbook' by John Doherty.