Monday, December 27, 2010

Red Velvet Cake

My friend gave me a Cook's Illustrated holiday baking issue and this graced the cover.  It had "Christmas Day" written all over it for me, so I brought the recipe with me to my in-laws where I traditionally try out a new dessert that can more easily be accomplished while the kids are being entertained.  The outcome was good.  The cake itself was surprisingly not that sweet, but very moist and the cream cheese frosting made it plenty sweet to be a dessert.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 pinch salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 Tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp natural cocoa powder
2 Tbsp red food coloring (one 1-ounce bottle)
12 Tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 1/2 cups sugar

16 Tbsp unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
4 cups confectioners' sugar
16 ounces cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces, softened
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 pinch salt

To make the cake:
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350.  Grease and flour two 9-inch 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 smooth paste forms.

With stand 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 wire rack to cool completely, at least 30 minutes.

To make the frosting:
With stand mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add cream cheese, 1 piece at a time, and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds.  Beat in vanilla and salt.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

When cakes are cooled, spread about 2 cups frosting on 1 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.

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