I have read so much about the ever so popular red velvet cake but never had the chance to try it before. So I decided to make one for little H's birthday, and even though it was my first attempt, I figured the risk of anything going wrong was pretty low considering that it was a pretty standard cake recipe.
Well, nothing really went that wrong, apart from the fact that I had to throw out an entire batch of cream cheese frosting after it curdled to an undesirable grainy state. I was trying to get the frosting to thicken, which it didn't really, and I knew the mascarpone was going to curdle from the overbeating. I was just waiting for the inevitable to happen. It just got runnier and runnier the more I whisked it, and so down the drain it went. Fortunately, the supermarket was still open on the evening of Christmas eve, and so I got G to rush down and buy more cream cheese.
This time, I played it safe and decided to make the frosting with only cream cheese instead of mixing it with mascarpone and cream (which is based on the recipe from Joy of Baking), and it turned out just swell! Phew! The quantity of frosting was just enough for my tri-layered cake, which I decorated with rainbow chocolate chips and My Little Pony figurines. Little H wanted to throw one of her Polly Pocket dolls on top of the cake too, but I told her that she might get cream all over her hair. Then, I just used melted chocolate and piped out the words "Happy Birthday" on the cake. Easy!
One thing I noted was that the buttermilk mixture and the vinegar/soda solution need to be mixed well through the batter so that the cake turns out evenly coloured without blotches of pink, red and brown (which you can tell from my pictures). I baked the cake all in one large tin instead of using separate ones, which prolonged the baking time to about an hour. The cake turned out really delicious and wonderfully tender, with just a hint of cocoa, and melts in your mouth along with that sweet and tangy cream cheese frosting. Everyone at the party loved it! I will definitely be making this again, perhaps as cupcakes next time.
Red Velvet Cake
Adapted from Best Recipes
2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 tbsp liquid red food coloring
1 tsp white distilled vinegar
1 tsp baking soda
Cream cheese icing:
2 blocks (16oz/450g) cream cheese, softened
4 oz (113g) butter, softened
2 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 175C (350F). Grease a tall 9 inch round cake pan and line the base with baking paper.
Sift flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa together in a bowl. In a jug, stir the red colouring into the buttermilk. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar and eggs until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla extract until the mixture is smooth. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour and buttermilk in 3 additions, starting and ending with flour. Mix until evenly combined.
Combine vinegar and baking soda in a small bowl until it fizzes. Quickly add to the batter and fold through briskly until evenly incorporated. Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake in the oven on the middle rack for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven and let it cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours until it is firm enough to slice into 3 layers. Slice off the top layer and use this to make crumbs for decorating the cake if desired. Ice the cake with cream cheese frosting.
To make frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add icing sugar, vanilla and salt and beat until light and fluffy.