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Yesterday was my best friend/roommate’s 21st birthday! Happy Birthday Alexa!!

As you should be well aware, I bake birthday cakes for my friends. Today’s cake du jour is Red Velvet! Red Velvet cake is delicious all the time, but a Red Velvet Birthday Cake is even better. Something about adding the birthday ingredient in there just makes it so much more tasty. Also, when said cake is really easy to make, and comes with the most perfect cream cheese frosting you have ever laid eyes on, then it is even more wonderful. This cake is moist, has a very nice density to it, and came out in a lovely deep velvety red. The frosting makes enough to frost the cake very generously, which in my opinion, is the only way to frost. Skimpy frosting is simply unforgivable. Don’t wait for a birthday to make this one, celebrate any day! How about today? It is Leap Day after all! That seems like it would warrant a nice cake, especially this very nice cake. Besides, you won’t get to enjoy cake on this day for another 4 years!

Red Velvet Birthday Cake

2 1/2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

2 tbsp. cocoa powder

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups oil

1 cup buttermilk, or regular milk plus the juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 tbsp. vinegar

1 tsp. vanilla

1.5 oz red food coloring

Preheat oven to 350.

Whisk together all wet ingredients. I recommend wearing an apron, because the red dye might just splatter and stain your favorite white tank top that you knew you shouldn’t wear while making this but did anyway and now it’s soaking in oxyclean.

If you are using the milk/lemon juice method instead of buttermilk, which is what I did, be sure to combine the two separately and let them sit for a few minutes so that the acid can react with the milk. This is a great buttermilk copycat if you don’t have or don’t feel like buying buttermilk.

In another bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and beat with an electric mixer for a few minutes until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Pour batter into greased and floured 8″ or 9″ cake pans. My pans are spring form and I’m really not sure how big they are. Bang the pans on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and the cake springs back at the touch. You know the drill. After about 10 minutes or so, take the cakes out of the pans and let cool completely on wire racks. Make the frosting while you wait.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ox. cream cheese, softened

2 sticks butter, softened

1 tsp. vanilla

6 cups powdered sugar

With an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until fluffy. Add the powdered sugar (no need to sift in my opinion) 3 cups at a time, and beat for about 5 minutes, until it is luscious and creamy.

If you can keep your hands off of it, set it aside for a minute and go back to the cake. Shave the top off of one of the layers to make a nice flat surface. Set this top layer of cake aside. You’ll use it in a second.

Cover the now flat layer with a good amount of frosting. Place the second layer on top, and frost the top and sides. I used almost all of the frosting.

Take the layer that you shaved off, and crumble it up into a bowl. I found that the best way to do this was to start by breaking it up with your hands, and then use two forks to crumble and fluff, almost like you would do to shred chicken. Gently pat the crumbs onto the sides of the frosted cake. It’s pretty messy, but it makes it look so nice.

If this is an any occasion cake, I suppose now you can dig in, but seeing as this was a birthday cake, you need a birthday message on top. I have a patented chocolate piping technique for this. Put a handful of chocolate chips into a ziploc bag. Make sure they’re all in one corner of it. Microwave at 20 second intervals, squishing the chocolate around in between, until it is completely melted. Snip off a tiny piece of the tip of the bag, and use like a pastry bag to pipe on your birthday wish!

Marvel at your lovely masterpiece, cut a fat slice for the birthday girl, and let the festivities begin!

Recipe adapted from Bakerella.

Here’s a song from Hobbie Stuart, a precious up and comer from the across the pond.