Red Velvet Cake has become Los Angeles’ couture cake of choice. Every wannabe designer, photographer, socialite in the L.A. Basin feels the almost mammalian compulsive need to worship the majesty of the Red Velvet Cake. The truth is, Red Velvet Cake isn’t the enemy. It’s just the people who celebrate it as a revelation, or worse, that it is some newfangled pastry invented on 3rd Street between La Cienega and Fairfax.
The truth is, Red Velvet Cake is a time-honored Southern treat, comparable to chicken fried steak or black eyed peas and Collard greens. Essentially, a Red Velvet Cake is simply a buttermilk cake with cocoa powder and a coloring agent (red food dye is easiest, but some assholes use beets) covered in a cream cheese frosting, although some traditionalists use a type of sugar and flour roux.
On Martin Luther King Day and with the intention of baking a birthday cake for one of my favorite co-workers, I decided to teach myself to make a Red Velvet Cake. Conquer the trendy and make it my bitch. After all, no one Burns Groceries like Parker does. Besides, my co-worker has convinced me she likes the red devil cake for the right reasons: it’s a chocolate cake in a weird color with an extra fancy name. When you put it that way, it’s kind of cool, right?
If you want to get down on one of these to impress a girl (or if you are a girl and have lots of friends that are super-couture and you feel the need to impress them) or you just like chocolate cake dyed red, here’s how you make a really flossy two tier Red Velvet Cake:
First, here’s what you will need:
- No shame. Gordon Ramsey played pro soccer and he can make a cake. So can you, pansy.
- 2 and 1/3 cups sifted cake flour (fuck the sifting and all purpose works fine, fancy pants)
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (yeah dudes, same shit you have in your fridge masking the stank of the two week old shrimp lo mein)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (make it Kosher)
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1 and 1/4 cups sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla (real vanilla extract. assholes use imitation)
- 1 cup buttermilk (don’t worry it won’t taste like ranch)
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons red food colouring (I spelled it all British because I am so fancy)
- wax paper and a pencil
- 2 cake pans 8 or 9 inches (that’s what she said)
Let’s get to making the cake. If you don’t have a KitchenAid mixer I recommend it because otherwise this will be a forearm workout and lumpier than your English teacher’s ass. I’ll assume you do, otherwise just substitute the speed setting for how hard you will have to work.
First step’s first. Pre-heat your fucking oven to 350 you bastard. Red Velvet is hot shit these days, but it won’t cook itself.
In a bowl whisk together your dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder). Now that you got that on lockdown, attach your flat beater to your mixer and start beating the room temperature butter until it gets creamy. Start adding the sugar in phases just so you don’t overload the butter. Let the mixer work for you. When it’s light, fluffy and basically a diorama of heaven, you are ready for the eggs. Before you add them, whisk the eggs and vanilla extract together. You know you did it right when it starts smelling like a McGriddle in the bowl. Remember McGriddles? What were we thinking!?
Gradually add the eggs juice and once it looks ready to go (you will know, trust your feelings), it’s time to add the buttermilk in two or three doses. You might need to scrape the bowl down a few times. Then add the food coloring. Now it’s all coming together.
Here comes the hard part, but it’s important. I mean, fellas. If you are trying to get with one of those fashionista girls who don’t know how the citizens of Lost Angeles roll, this is the make or break step. Take two sheets of wax paper. Use the pencil on each to trace the bottom of the cake pan. Basically, sit the cake pan on a sheet of wax paper and go around the base of the pan with the pencil. Do this twice then cut out the circles with a scissors or laser vision if you are Cyclops from X-Men (or if you are another kind of superhero with similar powers). Lay the wax paper circles in the cake pan.
Pour the red batter in even amounts in each cake pan and shake them around a little to make them even. Drop them in the over on the middle rack for about 25-30 minutes. Stick a toothpick in the center of the cakes to test if they are done. If the toothpick comes out clean, you are ready.
Let the cakes cool on a rack in their pans for like five minutes. When that is done, press a plate over the pan and gently flip them. The cakes will pop right out. Gently put them back on the rack and peel off the wax paper. Like this:
Damn, that’s hot. You are so close to impressing that girl. Tell her you love Frou Frou and Feist also and that you know the guy who designed the Buddha in the back of 4100 in Silverlake. You are so money.
Next, you need to make the frosting which is really important because red bare assed cakes are super awkward and will not produce the desired effect. To make this, here’s what you need:
- 8 oz. cold cream cheese
- 5 tablespoons of unsalted butter (technically optional, but take no chances and make it taste good)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- one pound of confectioner’s sugar (go for broke, dude.)
- 248 dark chocolate chips (ok, I don’t know how many. just buy a bag of tollhouse semi-sweet)
- an orange and a zester (remember, i keep it fancy)
Get the butter and cream cheese going in your mixer at low speed until they blend along with the vanilla. Start tapering in the confectioner’s sugar. Some people tell you to sift it. Some people also tell you to piss in your pants. I guess you could sift it, but I keep it rustic and manly, even when making a Red Velvet Cake. Don’t over-beat (that’s what she said). Just imagine the texture you will need to frost the cake. It’s loose physics, it will make sense. Zest some orange and throw that in there and beat it a little more. It adds color, orange works well with dark chocolate and makes you look fancy.
The rest is obvious. Use the frosting to glue the two cakes together one on top of each other. Then, frost all around that thing. I wish I had technique tips for you, but at this point, you have already won. Notice how fancy the little orange zesters are. You are so cool, brah.
Finally, go around the outside with chocolate chips. Some people use coconut, but that’s not my game, but hey, play your own way brosephine. Here’s how mine turned out:
OK, I am spent. Off to bed. I’ll take a picture when I deliver this cake because I still haven’t seen the outside. For all I know it tastes terrible (kidding, it’s the illness). Anyway, it’s rustic and homemade and super slick to gift someone you want to do something cool for, especially if she is a girl and you want to start a family with her and know her in the biblical sense.