My nickname for Red Velvet Cake is Sweetheart Cake. Why? Because it's my husband's favorite and I usually make it for his birthday or Valentine's Day or just because. And since I've made it several times since we got married I wanted to come up with a version that I love too and that had more cocoa flavor. With this new version I now love it too.
RED VELVET CAKE INGREDIENTS
There are different versions of red velvet. I use a combination of cocoa and red food coloring to achieve a reddish-brown color but also because I love the hint of cocoa flavor. My cake never comes out the same shade of red or reddish-brown. I use Americolor gel paste food color - Red, Red, but I don't measure the amount, so there is a slight variation from cake to cake. If you decide to make this cake, don't skip the vinegar. The combination of the vinegar, baking soda, and natural cocoa help produce the red color.
I use cake flour to produce a tender crumb and fluffy cake. If you substitute with all-purpose flour because you don't have cake flour, substitute by weight. In other words, use 257 grams of all-purpose flour. Combined with everything else, this combination of ingredients produces a moist, tender and fluffy cake. But there is still the secret ingredient.
SECRET INGREDIENT - ??
I recently bought Bakewise by Shirley Corriher and the section on cakes alone is really work the price of the book. I like to understand how things work, and her book explains it all - the correct ratio of sugar to flour, why you whip your egg whites on medium. It's the perfect book for a self-declared baking nerd like me. From the book I learned how to make a cake fluffier, but as Shirley Corriher it's not exactly new information.
So the secret to making this cake even fluffier is WHIPPED CREAM. Such a simple ingredient, but makes a huge difference in the cake. Whipped cream works because as you whip the heavy cream, you create bubbles and those bubbles expand even more when the cake is baked. I couldn't believe such a simple thing worked, but it really does. When I cut into the cake I was excited to see that it actually worked. The cake tasted amazing and the texture was softer than anything I'd made before.
I love this buttercream. It is rich and decadent, without being overly sweet. And it's easy to make. It has 3 main ingredients and the vanilla can be replaced with almond extract or a citrus flavor of your choosing. I actually can eat it by itself, but that's not something I like to confess.
I made 4 versions of this buttercream before I found the right combination of ingredients. First, I used an existing recipe for cream cheese frosting. I replaced part of the cream cheese with mascarpone, but the texture was too soft and kind of weepy. My second try I reduced the cream cheese, added more mascarpone and beat them on a higher speed and for longer to make it fluffier before adding the powdered sugar, but I still ended up with the same problem. It tasted okay, but I didn't like the look of it and it was a little too sweet for me. All the versions also contained 2 tablespoons of heavy cream. My 4th and final batch I ditched the cream cheese, the heavy cream and reduced the sugar. The final result was a buttercream that I can eat by itself. I even put in on toast.
How many of you mispronounce mascarpone? I pronounced it as Marscapone for years before I realized I was pronouncing wrong, despite the clear spelling on the package. Even to this day, I mispronounce it and self correct myself a lot. But either way you pronounce it, others will know what you're talking about. And it still makes some of the best buttercream.
I am so happy with the way this cake turned out. When I cut a piece out of the final version I was thrilled with the way the knife slid through the layers and how it felt so fluffy just cutting through it. And I absolutely love the way it tastes. I think you will love it too! If you have questions or try the recipe let me know what you think.
Red Velvet Cake
Red Velvet Cake
- 2-1/4 cups (257 grams) cake flour, sifted
- 2 tablespoons (12 grams) natural cocoa powder, sifted
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1-1/2 cups (300 grams) sugar
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick / 114 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1 cup buttermilk room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- Gel Paste Food Color - Red
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 16 ounces (454 grams) mascarpone cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup (2 sticks / 227 grams) unsalted butter
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups (230 grams) powdered sugar sifted
- Place the beaters and the bowl for the heavy cream in the refrigerator
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two round 9-inch cake pans and place parchment paper on the bottom of each pan.
- Place the cake flour, the cocoa, baking powder baking soda and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer beat the butter and the sugar and with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until it is pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape the sides and sides and bottom of the bowl
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating on medium speed until well combined. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat for another 30 seconds.
- Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Add 1/2 of the buttermilk. Continue to alternate the flour and the buttermilk. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl. Add three squirts of red food color gel paste and the vinegar and mix on medium speed until the food gel and vinegar are well combined into the batter. Scrape the bottom of the bowl one more time and mix on low speed until the batter is the same color throughout.
- For the whipping cream, remove the bowl and the beaters from the refrigerator. Beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Stir about 1/4 of the whipped cream into the cake batter. Then gently fold the rest of the whipped cream into the batter.
- Divide the batter evenly between the two pans, approximately 590 grams per pan. Smooth the top of the batter with an offset spatula to even out the layer. Bake until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes.
- Remove the cakes from the oven and cool the cakes for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Spray the wire racks with nonstick spray or lightly brush them with oil. The oil will make it easier to remove the cake from the wire racks once they are cooled. Remove the cakes from the pan and let them cool completely on the wire racks, for at least 1 hour.
- The cakes can be stored at room temperature wrapped in plastic for about 24 hours or frozen up to 1 month. If freezing the cake layers, wrap each layer in plastic wrap, then place each cake in a freezer storage bag.
- Place 1 cake layer on a plate or cake board. Spread 2 cups of buttercream evenly over the top to the edge of the cake. Top with the second layer then spread the remaining buttecream evenly over the top and sides of the cake.
- This recipe makes about 4-3/4 cups of buttercream.
- Combine the mascarpone, butter and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and with the whisk attachment beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat on medium-high for 30 seconds. Add the powdered sugar and mix on low until the sugar is combined. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for until fluffy and smooth, about 2 minutes.