red velvet cake

Red velvet cake. A difficult one to explain, unless you’ve tried it. It straddles the line between chocolate and vanilla, and looks like neither – thanks to a lot of red food colouring. This is a Sally’s Baking Addiction recipe (link here) and it’s awesome. All I’ve done is alter it slightly to reduce the quantities and compensate for cake flour, an ingredient not {easily} found in the UK.

Now, this cake. It’s complicated, I’m not going to lie. It’s important to get your mise en place done – that means weighing and measuring everything out before you start. It takes a little time to do and means there’s a bit more washing up, but makes your life so much easier.

Being organised is the key to this one!

Decoration is up to you… I’m not so keen on what I did in the end 😛 I took a piping bag and painted a strip of red food colouring down one side, then added some of the cream cheese icing. When I piped the rosettes, they had a sort-of red stripe to them. I think it would’ve looked better with a bigger star tip, or if the icing hadn’t been so runny. Many red velvet cakes – including Sally’s original – use crumbled up cake to decorate the tops, so that’s a good option.

I hope you like this one! The house definitely did.
…before I give you the recipe, I need to thank someone for putting up with my crazy for a year. As you know, this one was for you.

Ingredients:

Red velvet cake:

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1/4 cup cornflour
  • 8g cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp bicarb soda
  • pinch salt
  • 87g unsalted butter {at room temp.}
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 180ml vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs {at room temp.; separated into yolks and whites}
  • 17ml vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp white vinegar
  • 180ml buttermilk {can be substituted for milk + 1 tsp lemon juice}
  • red food colouring

Cream cheese icing: {NB. I had a lot left over, so feel free to reduce these amounts or layer it on!}

  • 300g cream cheese {at room temp.}
  • 115g unsalted butter {at room temp.}
  • 3.5 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch salt

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius {fan-forced}, and line two 8″ tins with greaseproof paper. 
Sift the plain flour and cornflour together a few times {this is equivalent to cake flour, which you’ll find in many American recipes} and put it into a large mixing bowl. Add the cocoa, bicarb and salt and whisk/stir them altogether. 
In a separate mixing bowl, beat the butter for a minute or two. Add the sugar; cream the two together for another minute or so. Add the oil, beat again until combined.
Next, add the egg yolks and vanilla. You know the drill – beat again for a minute. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Finally, add the vanilla and the food colouring until you reach your desired shade of red.

The amount is going to vary depending on what type you have. I used approximately 1.5 tsp of Wilton gel food colouring in ‘Red red’. Sally uses 3.5 tbsp of what I presume is standard liquid food colouring (although this is not explicitly stated) – but this is for a larger cake. Use these amounts as guidelines; add a little at a time and make sure to stir it through carefully!

Add about a third of the dry ingredients to the red mixture and fold through. Next, add half of the buttermilk and fold.  Add dry, wet {buttermilk}, then dry again. Make sure all the flour is mixed in, but try not to over-mix. 
Beat the egg whites for 3 minutes, until they’re pale and fluffy. Add them to the cake mixture and mix them through, being careful not to knock too much air out. 
Divide the cake mixture between the two pans, and bake for around 35 minutes. Start checking at around the 25-minute mark; if they’re browning too quickly you can cover them with foil. 
When they’re cooked through, remove from the oven and leave to cool completely. 

Icing:

Beat the cream cheese and butter together – it helps if both are at room temperature! 
Sift in the icing sugar – a cup at a time – and mix through. Add vanilla and salt to cut the sweetness.
Beat until smooth and spreadable. 
Arrange one cake on a plate, and spread icing on top of it. Stack the second cake on top, and cover them both in the remaining icing. I did one coating, put the cake into the fridge for a little while, and then did a second coat.
Decorate with crumbled up pieces of cake – if you have any offcuts – or however else you fancy!

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