The frosting for this ever-popular red velvet cake recipe is very different from most other cream cheese frostings because it’s lightened with mascarpone and whipped cream. If you prefer a sturdier frosting, simply omit the whipped cream.–Bea Vo
LC Seeing Red Note
We’re not so into artificial coloring. We’re not trying to pass judgment or incite ire, mind you. We’re simply saying that if you’d prefer not to taint your red velvet creation with artificial tint, there’s an increasing array of natural food colorings nowadays. They still lend a rich hue, they just eschew multisyllabic ingredients and frighteningly numbered names like Red No. 40. Don’t worry, you’ll still be seeing red when you slice into this cake.
And if you wish to see quite a lot of red when you slice into your cake, rather than slicing a single cake into skinny layers that you plop on top of one another as this recipe suggests, bake an extra batch or two of red velvet goodness and stack each individual layer cake for the towering effect that you see in the photo above. Now THAT’S seeing red.
Red Velvet Cake Recipe
Hands-On Time: 45 minutes | Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes | Serves 8 to 12
- For the cake
- Butter for the pan
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/4 cups superfine sugar (or just blitz granulated sugar in a blender or food processor until finely ground but not powdery)
- 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sunflower oil, plus more for the pan
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2/3 cups buttermilk
- 2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
- 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tablespoons natural cocoa powder (or Dutch process, if that’s what you happen to have on hand)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons red food coloring or 3/4 teaspoon red food coloring paste (Bea Vo recommends Sugarflair Red Extra Coloring Paste, although it’s not typically available in the U.S)
- For the cream cheese frosting
- 1 cup heavy cream, very cold
- 3/4 cup mascarpone
- 3/4 cup cream cheese
- 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Make the cake
- 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Butter or oil an 8-inch round cake pan and line it with parchment paper.
- 2. Whisk the eggs, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Still whisking, slowly add the oil in a steady stream until completely combined and the mixture has thickened slightly. Stir in the vanilla extract.
- 3. Mix the buttermilk, baking soda, and vinegar in a smaller, separate bowl. The mixture should bubble quite actively at the beginning and then fade.
- 4. In another bowl, combine the flour and cocoa powder and sift to combine.
- 5. Stir 1/3 of the flour mixture into the egg mixture and mix until well incorporated. Then add half of the bubbly buttermilk mixture and mix until just combined. Repeat with 1/2 of the remaining flour mixture, then the rest of the bubbly buttermilk mixture, and, finally, the last of the flour mixture. Mix until thoroughly combined, then add the food coloring and stir until thoroughly incorporated. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake pan.
- 6. Bake the cake in the preheated oven for 28 to 35 minutes, until a wooden skewer inserted in the middle comes out with almost no crumbs attached and the surface of the cake, when gently pressed with your fingertips, springs back instead of sinks. It may be necessary to bake the cake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, then invert the cake onto the rack to cool completely.
- Make the cream cheese frosting
- 7. Whisk or beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
- 8. In another bowl, beat the mascarpone, cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla until well combined. Add 1/3 of the whipped cream to the cream cheese mixture and beat until combined. Gently fold in the rest of the whipped cream until thoroughly combined. Cover and refrigerate for about 15 minutes. (This frosting must always be refrigerated.)
- 9. Cut the cooled cake horizontally into 3 equal layers. Using a spatula or a knife, slather a little of the cream cheese frosting over one layer of cake and top with another layer. Spread a little more frosting over the second layer and top with the final layer. Spread the remaining frosting all over the cake.
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Red Velvet Cake Recipe © 2011 Bea Vo. Photo © 2011 Kate Whitaker. All rights reserved.