04 March 2011

Red Velvet Cake

I recently picked up a copy of Baked's first cookbook, New Frontiers in Baking. Baked is located in New York City, and a colleague of mine was their cake decorator for some years. I first picked it up, because his recipe is featured, however all the recipes are great. They pull inspiration from nostalgic desserts and candies and give it a little kick. I can't wait to work my way through this book. The first recipe I tried was red velvet cake.
Red velvet is a classic Southern staple. Who can forget the armadillo cake in Steel Magnolias? Or Tom Skerrit's line "Nothing like a good piece of ass." I have noticed that red velvet has gained popularity as a wedding cake flavor here.
Unfortunately, I have run across some dry, crumbly, radioactive-looking versions. Not so with this recipe. It is well-balanced, moist, and has actual flavor beyond sugar. I did not make the recommended cinnamon frosting, a cooked icing without a trace of super sweet powdered sugar. It sounds very intriguing, but I had to make use of vanilla buttercream to which I simply added cinnamon. Of course, the traditional cream cheese frosting would do as well.

1. In a bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup cocoa powder, 1/4 cup boiling water, and 2 Tbsp red food coloring. Let cool.
2. Cream 6 Tbsp unsalted softened butter, 2 Tbsp vegetable shortening, and 1 2/3 cups sugar until fluffy. Add 3 eggs, one at a time, til well combined.
3. Add 1 cup buttermilk and 1 tsp vanilla extract into the cocoa mixture.
4. Sift and combine 2 1/2 cups cake flour and 1 tsp salt together in a separate bowl.
5. Mix half the flour mixture into the egg mixture. Mix in the cocoa mixture, then the remaining half of the flour mixture.
6. In a small bowl, stir together 1 Tbsp cider vinegar and 1 tsp baking soda. (Don't worry. It's supposed to fizz.) Stir into the batter just til combined.
7. Bake at 325 for about 35 minutes, til center springs back or toothpick comes out clean.

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