My mom’s birthday falls in February, a month that I associate with flowers, sweet treats, and the color red. If I’m going to make a birthday cake for her, it’s going to be a red velvet cake. That’s just what I did for her birthday dinner celebration this past weekend. I’ve made red velvet cake for her before for a previous birthday, and it was great then. I don’t know what I did differently this time, but wow…this time it was really noteworthy.
Despite the dramatic colors, it’s a simple cake to make. (Which is good, because I’m not sure I can wait until next February to have more.)
You remember making a volcano for your science project when you were a kid, right? Yeah, well this cake has those same ingredients: baking soda and vinegar. The trick to making this cake successfully is being sure to use exact amounts or else the cake will blow up in your face.
Not really. You do need to use exact amounts. And be careful with the red dye. Because. It. Stains.
Once you get that part of the chemistry down and bake the cake, you can get started on the cream cheese frosting.
Cream cheese + butter + powdered sugar + vanilla extract =addicting.
When the cakes are baked and cooled, you can start frosting them. Good luck trying not to taste it.
I normally cut a thin slice off the top of the bottom layer, in order for the cake to stack straight. I didn’t need to do that with this batch. I just iced the top of the bottom layer. Stacked the second layer on top, frosted that, and then the sides.
Then I added some chopped pecans. Pretty.
But because my mom is special, I couldn’t stop there. It needed some roses.
Normally, I can’t wait to get rid of leftover birthday cake.
But this time, it’s a completely different story.
This cake is super moist and has slight hints of the cocoa. It isn’t very sweet, but when layered with the cream cheese frosting it becomes downright amazing.
This cake served 18 people comfortably (ten adults and eight kids). Sliced thinly and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, it was enough for all with a little left over for the head baker.
- 2½ cup cake flour
- 1½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp iodized table salt
- 2 eggs
- 1½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 tbsp red food coloring
- 1 tsp white distilled vinegar
- 12 oz (1½ bricks) cream cheese softened or at room temperature
- 12 oz (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened or at room temperature
- 1½ tsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups confectioner's sugar
- (optional) 1½ cup chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease and flour two, round eight-inch cake pans.
- In a large bowl, sift together all dry ingredients.
- In a separate, medium-sized bowl, add all wet ingredients and mix using an electric mixer until fully combined.
- Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and with an electric hand mixer, blend until smooth, about two minutes.
- Bake cakes, rotating halfway through baking, until a tooth pic inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean and dry, about 25-30 minutes.
- While baking, make the frosting. Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until combined.
- Add sugar and mix until frosting is light and fluffy, about five to seven minutes. Be sure not to over beat as the frosting will separate.
- Remove cakes from oven and allow to cook five minutes, then invert cakes onto a plate and remove cake pan. Then invert again onto a cooling rack to allow cakes to cool completely.
- Ice the cake.
- Garnish with pecans. (Optional.)
- Refrigerate to let the frosting set.
(Recipe adapted from Food Network.)