What's Baking: Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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This month's What's Baking is hosted by Sandra from She Cooks and Bakes!. Sandra choose the theme Bake with Valentines Day Colors. While it may not be an original idea, I felt the deep red color of Red Velvet Cake was the perfectly represented Valentine's Day colors.

We hosted a family dinner a few weeks ago which we haven't done in a long time, we even missed hosting our annual Christmas Eve celebration. Our house was under renovation from August to January, so we were really excited that the chaos is over to host. By the way, the house looks fabulous (thanks Ryan!)!

Since it had been so long since we had anyone over, I went a little overboard with preparations. Actually, scratch that, I always tend to go a little overboard! Does that happen to you? Someone mentions a get-together and immediately my mind starts churning with ideas and I can't wait to get in the kitchen.

Sorry for the diversion! When I saw this recipe on the back of the cake flour box, I knew a cake was in order for our first post-renovation dinner. Plus I was intrigued by the frosting recipe which used a new-to-me method of preparation. It just so happened that this recipe called for shortening, which I had just used for these Chocolate Cappuccino Chip Cookies for the same dinner. I'm still not sure why I had shortening in the pantry, but I went ahead and used it (I normally would have subbed butter for the shortening).

Overall the dinner was great, and this cake was no exception. My stepmom loves Red Velvet Cake, so that fact that she (and everyone else) had no complaints left me feeling relieved. To be honest, I don't really know what a "good" Red Velvet is supposed to taste like, even after making Green Velvet Cupcakes for several of our annual St. Patrick's Day dinners! 

You'll see that my frosting was poured, rather than spread. I had a hard time getting the frosting to a spreadable consistency, even after letting it refrigerate for some time. I have feeling it was due to my inexperience with this method (I may not have let it cool enough?) and the use of low-fat cream cheese. Nonetheless, I think the poured frosting still looked nice and it tasted great. What cream cheese frosting doesn't taste great!

Be sure to check out She Cooks and Bakes! for the monthly round-up. Thanks for hosting Sandra!

Here is what you'll need:

For the Cake:
  • 1/2 cup shortening, or unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup food coloring (I only used a .3 oz bottle and thought it was plenty)
  • 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I used 2% milk with a little extra vinegar)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups plus 5 Tbsp sifted cake flour
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup coconut
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper and lightly spray with cooking spray.

Using an electric mixer, beat together shortening or butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, combining well after each egg.

In a small bowl, whisk together food coloring and cocoa powder. Add cocoa mixture and salt to butter mixture, and beat until well combined.

In another small bowl, combine buttermilk and vanilla.  Alternately add flour and buttermilk to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour.  Beat until well blended.

In another small bowl, combine vinegar and baking soda.  Gently stir into batter with a wooden spoon.

Divide batter evenly and pour into cake pans. Tap pans to release large air bubble. Place pans on middle rack in the oven and bake 35-40 minutes.  Test by gently touching the cake tops, if they spring back the cakes are done. Be careful not to overbake.

Cool cake in the pans on a cooling rack for 10 minutes.  Turn pans upside down on cooling racks and gently tap to release cake. Remove parchment from cakes and allow to cool completely before frosting. 

When cakes have cooled completely, prepare frosting recipe below.  Frost cake layers and sprinkle with coconut.

For the Frosting:
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
In a small saucepan, stir together milk and flour.  Cook on low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth and thick. Allow mixture to cool.  

Using and electric mixer, beat together butter, cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until well blended.  Add milk mixture and beat until well combined and spreadable.

Source: Slightly adapted from Swans Down Cake Flour

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