Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Be Mine....and Let us Eat Cake!

My relationship with the love of my life, Francisco, has worked for a few main reasons.

1.  We are head over heels for each other and are best friends. 
2.  He LOVES cake. 
3.  I make cake.
With our anniversary and Valentine's Day right around the corner, I felt the need to show him I was already thinking about him, and decided to show my love in the way I do best, baking!

I sketched some ideas for the cake and after thinking of several fancy, modern interpretations of Valentines, I decided that this was a moment for a sweet home style cake that could show our relationship in the simplest of ways. We always joke about when I give him cake, he gives me his heart in return, so black fondant silhouettes of us in our 'roles' seemed perfectly adorable for this occasion.
 I drew the silhouettes out on a piece of paper and then used an Xacto knife to trace around it on a rolled out piece of fondant.  I then colored fondant a few shades of pink and cut out my own hearts in a variety of sizes and shapes.  You could easily use heart cutters for a more uniform look, but when doing a cake like this, I like to stick with doing everything by hand to match the home style base of the cake.
With the decorations taken care of, I needed to decide on the flavor of the cake.  I took a look in my kitchen and decided I would make an American cream cheese buttercream since I had boxes and boxes of odd amounts confectioner's sugar in my cabinet and a container of cream cheese in the fridge.
I walk through the market at the corner of my block several times a week and always notice the haphazard stack of delicious nutella near the register.  My hand reaches out to  grab a tub of the hazelnut delight, and I quickly pull my hand back, knowing that if I don't have a project lined up to use it for, it will all end up in my belly within 24 hours...three spoonfuls at a time.  You can imagine my delight when I realized that I had the PERFECT reason to buy nutella!  A red velvet cake with a nutella buttercream filling and cream cheese frosting was the perfect flavor my (and Francisco's) belly would fall in love with.  Of course, when I went to buy it they were out of Nutella and buttermilk and I had to find another store to buy it at, BUT it all ended well. (=
I haven't created a red velvet recipe that I am completely happy with yet, so I decided to try out a new base recipe to start playing with.  I started with this red velvet recipe from Sweetopolita, and made a few adjustments to start making it my own.  I added more cocoa because I enjoy the stronger chocolate flavor in red velvet, left out the red velvet flavoring because the flavor of red velvet is from the cocoa and buttermilk and it shouldn't need any extra.  I also left out the cake flour, because I find that it makes red velvet too fragile and light for layered cakes. 
Below is the recipe I came up with:
I used 2 times this recipe for 4 thick layers, but ended up only using three layers because I could see I did not have enough frosting to frost a taller cake!
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated white sugar
2 tablespoons red food coloring
3 eggs, at room temperature
2 1/8 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, warm
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Prepare cake pans by buttering, lining with parchment rounds, and dusting with flour (making sure to tap out the excess).  Use 2,  8inch round pans for thick layers, or divide between 3 8inch round pans for slightly thinner layers.
2. Beat the butter, sugars, and food coloring on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy. The mixture should be lighter in color and increased in volume.  Lower the speed to add the eggs, one at a time, until all our fully incorporated into the butter mixture.
3. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together in a medium bowl.  Whisk in the salt.  With mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients and buttermilk, alternating between the two just until incorporated.  I like to stop the mixer before it is entirely combined and finish it myself with a spatula making sure nothing is stuck to the bottom of the bowl. 
4. Add mayonnaise and gently fold into mixture.
5.  Create a small dent in the batter and add the baking soda inside the dent.  Pour the vinegar over the baking soda so you hear it fizz and then quickly mix it into the rest of the batter until fully incorporated. 
6.  Divide batter evenly between the pans, smoothing the top so it bakes evenly.  Weighing the amount of batter for each pan can help you if you don't trust your eye-balling skills!  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the comes out clean (Approx 25-30min)  Keep an eye on it and check frequently after 20min to avoid over baking the cake.
7.  Let cakes cool in pans on wire rack for 20 to 25 minutes.  This is important because trying to un-mold right away can cause the cake to fall apart (and may cause burns!).  Invert cakes onto racks, peeling off the parchment from the bottoms.  Let sit on wire racks until cooled completely.
8. Fill and decorate!
I hope you enjoy this recipe and find way to tweak it to make it an even more delicious red velvet cake.  I will post the recipe again if I find some changes that make it more delectable!

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