February 9, 2016

Red Velvet Valentine Cake

Valentine's Day is just around the corner and here's a great dessert to celebrate the holiday.  What could be more appropriate than a heart-shaped red velvet layer cake? 
The combination of buttermilk and white vinegar in the batter makes the cake layers really moist and tender.  A generous two tablespoons of red food color give it that trademark deep, rich color.  No red velvet cake is complete without cream cheese frosting.  I particularly like this version because the addition of buttermilk powder cuts the sweetness and  provides a really nice tang.

Happy Valentine's Day!


Red Velvet Valentine Cake (from Cook's Illustrated)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
pinch salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons natural cocoa powder
2 tablespoons red food coloring
12 tablespoons (6 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar 
Cream Cheese Frosting
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups (12 ounces) confectioner's sugar
1/3 cup buttermilk powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 oz cream cheese, chilled and cut into 12 equal pieces
For the Cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans. [I used heart-shaped cake pans.] Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Whisk buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla, and eggs in large measuring cup. Mix cocoa with food coloring in small bowl until a smooth paste forms.  
With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar together until fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as necessary. Add one-third of flour mixture and beat on medium-low speed until just incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add half of buttermilk mixture and beat on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl as necessary and repeat with half of remaining flour mixture, remaining buttermilk mixture, and finally remaining flour mixture. Scrape down bowl, add cocoa mixture, and beat on medium speed until completely incorporated, about 30 seconds. Using rubber spatula, give batter final stir. Scrape into prepared pans and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes then turn out onto rack to cool completely, at least 30 minutes. 
For the Frosting: Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter, sugar, buttermilk powder, vanilla, and salt on low speed until smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. Increase speed to medium-low; add cream cheese, 1 piece at a time; and mix until smooth, about 2 minutes.  
When cakes are cooled, spread about 2 cups frosting on one cake layer. Top with second cake layer and spread top and sides of cake with remaining frosting. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 3 days.


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