Thursday, February 14, 2013

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Bright red, fluffy and super moist, this triple-layer Red Velvet Cake makes a dramatic and decadent dessert for Valentine's Day, especially when slathered with generous lashings of luscious cream cheese frosting. According to legend, Red Velvet Cake was invented in the 1950s at New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, however it was also a signature dessert at Eaton’s department store in the 1940s and 1950s, and employees who knew the secret recipe for the cake were sworn to silence. Raven Dennis of Cake Man Raven Bakery in NYC, who created this award-winning recipe below, claims Red Velvet Cake originated during the Civil War, and that southern ladies made it to keep their husbands home. The true origins of this dessert may be shrouded in mystery, but the popularity of this Valentine favourite is undeniable. 

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Serves 8-10
Recipe courtesy Cake Man Raven Bakery, NYC; Photo by Paula Deen

2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tbsp all natural red food colouring, or more for desired depth of colour
1 tsp white distilled vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 lb cream cheese
6 cups sifted icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, divided

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 3 8-inch round cake pans with butter, then dust with flour, shaking off the excess, and set aside. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In another bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food colouring, vinegar, and vanilla. Using a standing mixer, add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and a smooth batter is formed. Divide the cake batter evenly among the prepared cake pans and place in the oven. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through the cooking, until the cake pulls away from the side of the pans, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

Remove the cakes from the oven and run a knife around the edges to loosen them from the sides of the pans. One at a time, invert the cakes onto a plate and then re-invert them onto a cooling rack, rounded-sides up. Let cool completely.

To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese in a standing mixer until smooth. Then add the sugar, vanilla and 1/2 cup of nuts, and mix until light and fluffy. Occasionally turn the mixer off, and scrape the down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Cover and refrigerate until the frosting is firmer before using.

To assemble the cake, place one layer, round side down, in the middle of a serving platter. Using an offset knife or spatula, spread some cream cheese frosting over the top of the cake. Carefully set another layer on top, round side down, and repeat. Top with the remaining layer, round side up, and cover the entire cake with the remaining frosting. Sprinkle with the remaining nuts. Chilling the cake for about half an hour will make the cake easier to slice.

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