Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I thought the amount of red food coloring was enough--a nice muted dark red (darker than in this photo) but not as intense as I would like. A little disturbed by how much food coloring is needed for one cake. Very disturbed by the price of red food coloring at $3.59 per ounce. (!!!!!) Is beet juice cheaper? Maybe, baby. One day I'll try. Until then, at least now I know that only Von's (and not Fresh&Easy or Target) sells just the red food coloring by itself rather than a set of colors.
I really couldn't get this cake to look beautiful in the photos. In life the contrast is shocking and so delightful but this was the best I could do for now. This recipe has a wonderful flavor--tangy, not too sweet, just a little chocolate-y. Super moist. No vegetable oil aftertaste (canola makes a difference, maybe?. Frosting good too!
Happy Birthday, Alice!
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups cake flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups canola oil
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1.25 oz red food coloring+ enough water to make 6 Tbsp of liquid (or more food coloring, up to 3 oz if you want it to look like Smitten Kitchen's)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
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.
Whisk cake flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl.
Place oil and sugar 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.) Make sure it's really mixed in--scrape down the sides and get the bottoms otherwise you may get a retro tie dye look later. Add vanilla. 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, 45 minutes. Let cool in pans 20 minutes. Then remove from pans, flip layers over and peel off parchment. Cool completely before frosting.
Cupcake variation: Yield is approximately 35 cupcakes, with the liners filled only 3/4 of the way, and the baking time should be between 20 to 25 minutes, but check in on them 2/3 of the way through in case your oven gets the job done faster.
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter room temperature
3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Place cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl. With a handheld electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low speed to combine. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using. Makes 6 cups.
I've always heard that there always needs to be two layers of frosting when you decorate a cake...
  1. a crumb layer: a thin spreading of frosting over the entire cake.
  2. the final finishing layer. What I didn't know is that you need to chill the crumb layer (in the freezer for a couple minutes or longer in the fridge) so it solidly holds the crumbs in there while you spread the last layer. Ah, yeah. Makes sense now.

Yields 3 9" cake layers or 2 10" cake layers = 12-14 servings, adapted from Smitten Kitchen

No comments: