Red Velvet Cake

Or Adventures in Sheet Cake 2

Red Velvet is the new Chocolate, it seems. It took its own sweet time finding the way to India, but now you can find RV (cup)cakes with Cream Cheese Frosting everywhere! Bitten by the bug, I made my very first attempt at it a few months ago for my friend Neha’s 29th birthday! Excuse the shaky handwriting!

I was really upset that AK wasn’t around to take pics but later I thanked him. The cake looked just right, but got completely screwed up because of the brand of food colour that I used. It had salt in it, for some unfathomable reason, and my cake became salty. Yes, salty. It was the biggest disaster ever. And Neha had this big party with 30 people and nobody had the heart to tell me. AK told me when we got home and I was more than a little upset!

Anyhow, I got my hands on a different food colour this time and decided to brave it, this time as a sheet cake, inspired by PW! Plus, like I said, I have a new found love for sheet cakes!

This is what I made this time, for another birthday – AK’s friend from work – this time I tasted it beforehand and avoided some serious heartbreak!

AK was in the middle of a 2 day shoot so he had left all 3 of his cameras in the studio. So we made do with my new phone camera!

Anyhow, here’s what I used:

For the cake:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup less 1/8 cup sugar
1-1/4 cup flour
Pinch of salt
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk (you can use regular milk in which you stir 3/4 – 1  tsp vinegar/ lemon juice. Let it sit for 5 mins and strain out the curdled bits. That’s what I do each time)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp vinegar
25 ml liquid red food colour (pic of the brand and type I finally used below – but please please please check the ingredients to make sure there’s no salt/ sodium chloride in them)
1/2 tbsp cocoa powder

For the frosting:
4 tbsp flour
1 tbsp cornflour
1 cup milk
1 cup butter
1 cup powedered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Here’s what I did:

Pre-heated the oven to 150 C/ 350 F. Mixed the flour with the salt and set aside.

Mixed the cocoa and red food colour in a bowl and set it aside.

Then I strained the butter-milk into a measuring cup/ pourer.

Added the baking soda and cracked in the egg.

Added the vanilla.

The vinegar.

Gave it a good whisk with a fork. The mix will get frothy.

I kept this aside. Then I beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until light and fluffy.

Then I added the flour and buttermilk mix in batches, beating between each addition, beginning and ending with the flour.

Next I added the colour-cocoa mixture and beat to combine well.

Isn’t it pretty?!?

Anyhow I then prepped my baking sheet/ cookie tray (9×13 inch) – which I should have done before I began mixing the ingredients! I buttered the sheet lightly with a brush.

Placed a sheet of butter paper over it, then buttered and floured that as well.

I spooned the cake batter into the tray.

Spread it out as evenly as possible with a spatula.

Finally popped it in the oven for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre came out clean. Allowed it to cool in the tray for about 20 minutes, then I inverted it on to another tray and let it cool completely.

While the cake was in the oven, I began making the frosting. In a small saucepan, I measured out the flour and cornflour.

Then I added the milk very slowly, stirring and whisking all the while to avoid lumps.

I turned on the heat to medium-high and kept whisking until the mixture thickened – even thicker than cake batter.

Turned off the heat, added the vanilla and mixed well.

I set it aside and allowed it to cool completely.

Then I beat the sugar and butter until pale and fluffy – about 2-3 minutes on high speed.

Added the cooled flour paste.

Beat it on high speed until well combined, another 2 minutes. Make sure there are no lumps in the frosting.

And this is what I ended up with…

I spread it on the cooled cake (sorry no picture) and cut it into squares!

And it was everything that PW’s recipe promised it would be!

PS – I only used 2/3 of the frosting. You can add some colour to the balance frosting and pipe stars/ shells/ borders on top of the white frosting.

PPS – a fine dusting of cocoa powder, or shaved chocolate, strawberries/ raspberries on top of the white frosting could also add to the look.

PPPS – This is now my favourite frosting ever. It has the optimal around of sugar/ sweetness for me. Frankly, the level of sugar in a buttercream drives me nuts. This is a basic recipe and you can add many flavours to it using essence/ zest/ liqeuer etc.