Sunday, October 30, 2011

Blood-red velvet cakes for Halloween!

Here is another cake that I had never had before, never made before and only heard of recently. Red velvet cake appears to be another American invention and just like judging a book by it's cover, I judged this cake by it's name and just had to make it. It turns out that it isn't just a great name, the cake is so good! I did a bit of research to make sure that I was making a proper red velvet cake and not just a red cake. Turns out that there are a few specifics that most recipes get wrong, like it should have oil, not butter, so that it is lighter, and it should have some cocoa but not too much, and I think maybe the baking soda and vinegar/buttermilk are an integral part of it too. So I took a recipe that I found on another blog and only made the slightest changes, like a bit more cocoa and vanilla because I like strong flavours. The recipe is for 24 cupcakes but would also make a big round layer cake. Traditionally it should have white frosting, like a cream cheese frosting or vanilla buttercream. I wanted dark, scary cakes so I used a chocolate glaze. For once I remembered to take photos during the making but didn't take one of the finished product! My scary decorating didn't go well though, I was in too much of a hurry and it was sloppy. So maybe no photo isn't such a bad thing.

Red Velvet Cake

2 1/2 cups plain flour (375 grams)
1 1/2 cups caster sugar (375 grams)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 heaped tablespoon cocoa powder (about 10 grams)
1 1/2 cups oil (375 mL)
1 cup buttermilk (250 mL)
2 eggs
3 tablespoons red food colouring
1 teaspoon white vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla

The first thing to do as always it to get the oven heating to 180 degrees celsius, and prepare your cake tins. This mixture is for 24 cupcakes so you could go with that, or make it into a larger cake. I wanted little square cakes so I filled up two rectangular swiss-roll tins (about 20 cm by 30 cm I think) and when the cake was done cut it into 24 squares. For one big cake I would say that this would fill a 23 cm round tin, or maybe even a 25 cm tin. It makes a lot of batter, but the cake does not rise too much. It is definately too much for sandwhich tins.

So to get on to the mixing, which is incredibly simple and fast. Begin by taking all of your dry ingredients and sifting them into a large bowl (a really large bowl, I used one with a capacity of about 2.5 litres and it was only just big enough!). Give them a mix to combine them properly.


In another large bowl, combine the liquid ingredients and whisk them together well.


There is only one more step, see how easy it is? You combine the two mixtures and beat the batter well, to make sure that there are no lumps of flour. Then pour/spoon the batter into the prepared cake tins. Hopefully your oven is the right temperature by now because the thing about baking soda is that the rising process begins immediately so you don't want to let the batter sit or it will loose it's rising power. The baking time will vary depending on what you are doing, from about 20 minutes or so for cupcakes, to 40 minutes for my shallow-ish rectangle cakes, to about an hour for a deeper, round cake.


When the cake(s) is done, let it sit in the tin for about 5 minutes and then carefully turn it out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. I used a thin chocolate icing to coat the cakes but you could use buttercream frosting, cream cheese frosting or even a ganache.

Chocolate Glaze Icing

300 grams icing sugar
25 grams cocoa powder
40 grams butter
5 tablespoons (75 mL) boiling water

This is a really basic sort of icing. Sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl and add the butter on top. Pour the boiling water over and then give it a really good mix, either by hand or with an electric beater. The icing will be quite liquid so you can spread a thin layer really easily, yet it won't be too thin. If you do want it thicker use slightly less water.

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