Monday, 8 November 2010

ICCHFC - Week 59: Red velvet cake

I really didn't know what to make this time round for cake club. I just wasn't particularly inspired. I had a vague idea to do something with caramel but it didn't really grab me and I couldn't find an appealing recipe that really made me want to make it.

I was flicking through my recipe books trying to find inspiration and I was thinking about the cakes I'd done in the past and what I'd really enjoyed making. Then the angel food cake came to mind; clearly a cake I would never make other than for cake club. So, what about its counter-part a devil food cake?

It wasn't quite that simple, however. Recently there's been an air of mystery about the weekly cakes. Sara has instigated a season of "baker's choice" which has been accompanied by a guessing of the cake prior to the unveiling at elevenses.

With this in mind a devil food cake would be pretty easy to guess. It's basically a massive chocolate cake that looks like a massive chocolate cake. So what about a red velvet cake? A red vanilla chocolate cake coated in a white cream cheese frosting. Surely no-one would ever guess that, would they?

After a pleasant afternoon of baking and icing I had a cake ready for the ICCHFC. Thing is I had no idea how red the cake would be until we cut it open. I forgot to take pictures at the batter and baked stages (d'oh). I was pretty pleased nonetheless.

The cake was an unqualified success. No-one guessed what it was and everyone seemed very impressed by its size, colour and flavour.
Cake club gold baby, yeah!

This picture doesn't do justice to the deep red colour of the cake (too much reflection from the icing). Fortunately John took a better one:

This cake is a favourite in the deepest south of the US of A. Apparently the red colour was originally due to the reaction between the acids in the vinegar and buttermilk with the red anthocyanin in the cocoa and giving it the red colour. However, this was before cocoa was "Dutch processed", so now the red colour comes from a shed-load of food colouring.

After plenty of trawling of the t'interweb for suitable recipes I came up with the recipe below which is a combination of the many many that I found (Just how sweet do Americans like their icing? I frequently saw recipes using more than 1lb of icing sugar!)

Amongst all the recipe trawling I'd also come across the concept of a crumb layer of icing. Effectively a thin layer of icing put on to hold crumbs then left to set before applying the final layer of decorative icing, ensuring a perfect finish. If only I'd known about this when I was making the wedding cake. How much easier would things have been?

My red velvet cake recipe (sorry for the American cups):

2½ cup plain flour
1½ cup caster sugar
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp baking powder
¼ cup cocoa
1tsp salt
1½cup vegetable oil
1cup butter milk (or as an alternative 1tbsp red wine vinegar topped up with milk to make 1cup and left for 10mins)
1tsp red wine vinegar
1tsp vanilla extract
1 bottle of red food colouring ~38ml
For the frosting:
12oz cream cheese
60z butter, very soft
~6oz icing sugar
1tsp vanilla extract

1. Sift together all the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, bicarb) and stir in the sugar.
2. Beat all the wet ingredients together (buttermilk (or substitute), oil, eggs, vinegar, colouring, vanilla).
3. Gradually beat the dry ingredients into the wet to create a smooth scarlet batter.
4. Divide the batter equally between three 8" cake tins and bake for about 25min at 180°C. (The cakes are ready when the top springs back from a gentle prod, the sides have started to come away from the tin and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean).
5. Leave the cakes to cool in the pans for about 5mins before turning out to a cake rack and leaving to cool completely.
6. Meanwhile make the frosting. Firstly beat the butter so it is very soft and smooth. Slowly beat in the cream cheese and vanilla and then the icing sugar. Add icing sugar until you get the flavour you are after bu I'd recommend a minimum of 6oz. Leave in the fridge for at least 10mins to firm up.
7. Layer the cakes with a generous amount of frosting (about 2tsbp). Then cover the cake with a thin crumb layer of frosting and leave to chill for 30mins (or longer).
8 Use the remaining icing to give a perfect white casing to your deep velvet cake.


  1. I've never been brave enough to make a RV cake - scared off by the red food colouring! But this looks lush and the icing tip is brilliant!

  2. I know what you mean about the food colouring. Most of the recipes I looked at actually wanted to put in 60ml - nearly two whole bottles!!!

    I'd recommend biting the bullet today and giving it a go. Sara (from cake club) took some home last night and her mum didn't believe it wasn't shop bought. Praise indeed.


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