The first year we were married, I made this cake for my husband’s birthday. Yes, that’s homemade lemon curd and it was divine.
And here’s another cake I have toyed with making just because it looks so impressive:
I’m not sure what it says about me that I want to make this cake in spite of my serious aversion to coconut. But I digress…
This year when I asked our almost-four-year-old what kind of birthday cake he wanted, he seemed confused by my question. I clarified, “Well, you can have chocolate or vanilla cake or we can do one of those ice cream cakes or you could even have a great big cookie cake…you know, for your birthday party…what kind of cake do you think you’d like?”
He was still a little confused when he answered, “I want a birthday cake.”
“I know sweetie, but what kind?”
“The birthday kind, mom. You know, the red one.” He seemed irritated to have to explain this to me.
I had to chuckle just a little.
For the last couple of years my husband has requested a red velvet cake for his birthday and now, apparently, birthday cake = red velvet cake.
There are worse things.
Perhaps another birthday tradition has begun.
Two years ago, it was a train. And yes, that’s on the back of a large cutting board. I really need a large platter.
This year’s birthday theme was monster trucks. So we had a red velvet cake with tire tracks across the top, of course.
And this year I bought a cafeteria tray to use for the cake. Again, the platter issue. I know, I know, I could cover a big piece of cardboard…but, I have just a little bit of a thing for cake stands, so it’s really hard for me to slap a cake down on part of an old box. If I had an absurd amount of kitchen space, I would own this:
and also these:
OK, so maybe I think about cake stands too much. But, I was happy with my red, plastic, cafeteria tray because, aside from the fact the cake wouldn’t fit, monster trucks don’t really belong on these fancy things, anyway. Oh and also this one:
There are more things about birthdays to post…like cupcakes that get sent to classroom parties and also my theory about a birthday breakfast celebration. But, for now, I give you red cake.
The key to this recipe is the cocoa powder and the amount of red coloring. Do not skimp on the red coloring. And yes, it is TWO of those little bottles. That’s what it takes to get a deep red color. Anything less and you’ll wind up with a wimpy, pink-looking cake.
Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
from Cook’s Country
For the cake:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 TB white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 TB natural cocoa powder
2 TB red food coloring
12 TB unsalted butter, softened (that’s 1 1/2 sticks)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
For the frosting:
16 TB unsalted butter, softened (that’s 2 sticks…I know, I know.)
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
16 ounces cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch 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.
2. 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.
3. For the frosting: With electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Beat in vanilla and salt. Refrigerate until ready to use.
4. 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.
And for some fun, try these Steel-Magnolia-inspired variations:
OK, OK just one more.