“Racy yet regal with just a little hint of redneck, red velvet cake is wrapped in pedigree but remains queen of the comfort food.” This catchy description comes from the April issue of Virginia Living magazine.
Yep, the red velvet cake, popularly known as the armadillo shape groom’s cake in the movie Steele Magnolias is this month’s theme for the Daring Bakers.
Nobody is really sure of the origin of the red velvet cake. One source stated that it was created in the kitchen of the Waldorf Astoria in the 1920’s to complement a red-velvet themed wedding. Another source said that it was brought over by the Acadians who were descendants of the French colonists who settled in Nova Scotia. They were expelled by the British in the 17th century where they later settled in Louisiana and became known as the Cajuns. It was there that they created their own beet flour and used it in baking for its sugar content.
We chose our own recipe for this month’s baking go-round and mine came from the Virginia Living magazine which featured the Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook. Let me tell you, though I am not a fan of any food-colored cake, I am pleasantly surprised by the outcome of this. It is delicious and I would make it again for a fun event.
Red Velvet cake
Adapted from the Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook
Makes one 2-layer, 9-inch cake, enough for 12 people
Time: 1 ½ hours
For the cake:
2 ½ cups sifted bleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ cup natural cocoa powder such as Hershey’s
1 fl. oz food coloring
1 tbs water
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
1 tbs orange zest ( from 1 to 2 oranges)
1 cup whole or low-fat buttermilk
For the icing:
¾ cup unsalted butter
1 lb. cream cheese (softened)
3 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 tbs whole milk, if needed
- Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Grease and flour two 9×2-inch cake pans.
- Sift the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda together twice. In a small mixing bowl, whisk the cocoa, red food coloring and water until it becomes a smooth paste, about 1 minute, and reserve.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat 1 cup butter with an electric mixer until creamy, about 30 seconds. Add the sugar, ¼ cup at a time, beating about 15 seconds after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary, until the mixture has lightened in color and become fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, the vanilla, and orange zest, beating for 15 seconds after each addition. Add the red cocoa paste and mix until evenly incorporated.
- Add the flour mixture to the butter and egg mixture in thirds, alternating with 2 additions of half the buttermilk. To avoid overworking the batter, gently mix with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula after each addition, until the ingredient is just incorporated. Once all ingredients are incorporated, beat the batter 2 to 3 strokes.
- Divide the batter between the cake pans and spread the tops evenly with the wooden spoon or spatula. Bake until a cake tester or toothpick emerges clean, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the cakes cool in their pans on a rack for 10 minutes, then slide a thin paring knife around the edge of the pans and invert the cakes. Cool the cakes complete on a rack, with their tops facing up.
- In a large bowl, beat ¾ cup butter with the mixer until creamy, about 30 seconds. Add the cream cheese and beat until the mixture is fluffy, white and very smooth, about 1 minute. Add the confectioner’s sugar 1 cup at a time, beating for 30 seconds after each addition, until the mixture is creamy, fluffy and smooth. If the frosting is too stiff, beat the milk into it to loosen it.
- Gently ice the cake layers generously. Spoon 1 cup of icing in the center of the first cake layer. Working with an icing or rubber spatula in gentle swirling motions, spread the icing from the center toward the edges of the cake until it forms an even 1/3 to ½ inches thick. (If you need to add more icing, add it to the center and work it out toward the sides).
- Carefully set the second layer on top of the first and ice the second layer in the same manner, beginning with a dollop in the center and working it out to the sides. Then ice the sides of the cake.
- Store the cake at room temperature, beneath a cake cover. If you don’t plan to eat it for 24 hours, put it on a plate, tent it with plastic wrap, and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Remember to remove the cake from the refrigerator 1 hour or more before serving to take the chill off. Serve with glasses of cold milk.
I guess most of the steps are the ones for making a cake like creaming the butter and so forth. I did not have powdered food coloring as the original recipe called for so I just used a whole bottle of liquid food coloring and a tablespoon of water to make the cocoa mixture paste-like. I’ve never made cream cheese frosting before but let me say it was so good, I was afraid there would not be enough for the cake because I kept on eating it! That icing is really sinful! The recipe called for a pound (4 cups) of confectioner’s sugar but I made do with 3 cups because I felt it was getting too sweet. The cake was moist with a wonderful crumb. I think that the addition of the orange zest brought out the flavor of the cake and complemented the cream cheese frosting perfectly. I’m off to eat a piece right now so go ahead and check out the other versions of my fellow Daring Bakers!
I would like to thank Ximena of Lobstersquad for the wonderful work (as usual) she did for our two logos!