Once upon a time, I made a crazy, crazy good Red Velvet cake. It was totally unintentional. I was actually writing my column, The Cakeologist, for American Cake Decorating Magazine and had tasked myself with a project that I was kinda dreading. Not that the topic wasn’t something I wanted to write about, because it was. It was what I had planned to illustrate the topic.
Lots. Of. Cake. I had to bake at least 4 with frosting/filling/buttercream/fondant. I don’t do production style caking anymore and there’s a very good reason. And truth be told, I’ve become lazy about making cakes (see my Facebook Live about making my mother’s birthday cake the day after her birthday). Yes, I know my own recipe like the back of my hand, but I needed a variation in types of cakes and I was just plain bored by having to make my Perfect Vanilla Cake that many times. So I decided to enter the waters of tweaking it yet again.
I just can’t leave things alone. However, I have been asked for a Red Velvet cake recipe too many times to ignore and the idea of adding emulsion to my vanilla cake just felt cheaty to me. It’s totally fine if you do that. But I pride myself on working new recipes out in ore classic or innovative ways. So I couldn’t just use emulsion – though it would have saved me some time and ingredients in testing.
My Perfect Vanilla Cake already had the exact crumb structure and texture that I would want in any cake I ever eat, so it had to be based off my tried and true. But what makes a Red Velvet “red velvet”? Cocoa and buttermilk, and sometimes vinegar, but not for mine.
Now I struggled with frosting. Originally the paired frosting was Ermine (more recently known as boiled frosting), a.k.a. flour frosting. Yes, I know what you may be thinking if you’ve never had Ermine: “Boiled FLOUR?!?” I agree. That was my first response when a friend insisted that I make this frosting for her wedding cake. I was shaking my head silently on the other side of the keyboard. But I tried it and it wasn’t that bad. In fact it was a neat alternative to typical frosting or buttercream.
Oh, but the current favorite: cream cheese!!! This is what we now expect to have paired with red velvet anything, and my-oh-my does it pair beautifully. But it can be a very unstable frosting. It’s not heat friendly (even a typical cool room temp can make them slip and slide, and it definitely won’t hold up in warm weather at an event. I highly recommend not using cream cheese frosting (unless you’re using a flavor paste to flavor you standard SMBC or ABC) for any special event where it won’t be consumed quickly out of refrigeration. Yep. Avoid it for wedding, peeps.
But this is for me. And for the article I am writing and because I want new recipes in my arsenal of awesome cake recipes. So let’s get creative, shall we? How about a Cream Cheese Ermine? Oh, why not! Gotta say, it needs more tweaking, but perhaps we’ll do that on a Facebook Live broadcast, yeah? As you can see above, the Ermine frosting is much softer than my bright white frosting so I used the frosting to create a dam around the middle layer where I would be including the second filling. And it was so worth it 🙂 That little extra bite of the cream cheese made this cake shine!
WAIT! I totally forgot to mention the color!
Sometimes more is too much. Such was the case with the red in this recipe. The top image is 4 Tbsp or Red Red Americolor Gel Paste food coloring, the bottom is 3 Tbsp. The top is also a 7 inch round so it baked a few minutes longer than the bottom 8 inch round. But it’s the amount of food color that made the difference here. Also, the top one was torted while room temp (you can see a lighter, more textured crumb) and the bottom was torted while cold. I prefer torting cold. It’s easier to keep a straight cut and it’s always cleaner.
Ok. Now that I’ve got those outta my noggin…
I gotta say, this cake just kills me. I was so good through the holidays (actually lost a few pounds!) and then this cake. *sigh* I said it was sinful, did I not? So there’s my warning to you. Be. Ware. Evil (delicious) cake recipe below.