Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Birthday Suprise...and a Red Velvet Cake!

This weekend was a big weekend for us...we decided to surprise my husband's mom for her birthday by flying her down to Tennessee for the weekend! She had no idea what was happening and was totally taken by surprise by the whole thing! I couldn't have planned it more perfectly!! Our family back in Ohio helped us pull the whole thing off, by telling her that she was staying with her daughter who lives in Columbus for the weekend. Little did she know she would end up in the Columbus airport on her way to Nashville!!
So to help celebrate her birthday, I wanted to make a special cake. My husband told me that she really liked Red Velvet Cake and I remembered seeing this recipe on Pinch My Salt awhile back. I knew this would be the perfect time to try it out! It seemed like it took me a long time to prepare the cake, but that could be because I was making dinner at the same time!! The cake turned out REALLY good. The icing on this cake was truly amazing! My only advice would be, and this could just have been my oven, but I think I would have been ok taking my cake out at 25 minutes rather than 30. I also kept mine in the refrigerator and decided when we were eating it that it would have tasted better left out at room temperature. The rest of the weekend we left it out! My mother-in-law loved it and we finished that whole cake in 4 days!!! (not all by ourselves I might add...we did have some company that stopped by and helped us out!!)
Red Velvet Cake

2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour*
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder (unsweetened)
2 oz. red food coloring
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans or three 8-inch round cake pans. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside. In a small bowl, mix food coloring and cocoa powder to form a thin paste without lumps; set aside. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla and the red cocoa paste, scraping down the bowl with a spatula as you go. Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beat well, then beat in half of the buttermilk. Beat in another third of flour mixture, then second half of buttermilk. End with the last third of the flour mixture, beat until well combined, making sure to scrape down the bowl with a spatula.

Make sure you have cake pans buttered, floured, and nearby. In a small bowl, mix vinegar and baking soda. Yes, it will fizz! Add it to the cake batter and stir well to combine. Working quickly, divide batter evenly between the cake pans and place them in a preheated 350 degree oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Check early, cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. To remove the cakes from the pan, place a wire rack on top of the cake pan and invert, then gently lift the pan. Allow cakes to cool completely before frosting. Frost with buttercream or cream cheese icing (recipe below).

Recipe Notes: *Sift cake flour once before measuring, then sift again with the other dry ingredients per recipe instructions. Wear an apron and be careful with the red food coloring–no matter how hard I try, I always end up staining something! As you’re mixing the cake batter, use a spatula to scrape down the bowl frequently throughout the entire process.

Cream Cheese Frosting
16 oz. cream cheese (2 packages), softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter (one stick), softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
pinch of salt

With an electric mixer, blend together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Turn mixer to low speed and blend in powdered sugar, salt and vanilla extract. Turn mixer on high and beat until light and fluffy. Use immediately or refrigerate, covered, until ready to use. If refrigerated, the frosting will need to be brought to room temperature before using (after frosting softens up, beat with mixer until smooth).

Recipe Notes: If you prefer a sweeter and/or stiffer frosting, more powdered sugar can be added (up to four cups). But remember, the more sugar you add, the less you’ll be able to taste the tangy cream cheese!
**I added about 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar and it was perfect!**

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