Enjoyed for over half a century, the Red Velvet Cake has been popular to this day. There’s something about this New Yorker cake that we go head over heels for. In some cases, I do agree that the Red Velvet is an overrated chocolate cake with a lot of red dye. But nonetheless, how can you not love a cake made with thick buttermilk and rich cream cheese frosting? 😀
Here’s a picture of OLD Red Velvet Cake I had attempted last year but never got to blogging about it!
Evidently, we know it is proof that the Americans know how to appreciate their desserts when they decide to introduce the Red Velvet CHEESECAKE at The Cheesecake Factory! Not sure who started the Red Velvet Cheesecake buzz but The Cheesecake Factory definitely did a good job popularizing it. I crave their cheesecakes whenever I go down to the States (mainly Seattle). Even if I didn’t request for The Cheesecake Factory, someone in the group will be sure to suggest it! And because they probably make one of the BEST cheesecakes in the world, it’s not hard to see why this franchise has become so popular.
For my Singaporean / Malaysian readers, I would liken the Vancouver-Seattle trip to a Singapore-Malaysia trip. It is especially common for Vancouverites to head down just to get a car load full of groceries and to fill up on gas before driving back up. Who can resist 450g butter for only $3? Not to mention 450g Philadelphia cream cheese for under $5? I’m probably one of those guilty of buying at least 24 sticks of butter before returning to Vancouver.
So anyways, it was Tracy‘s birthday!! I wanted to bake her a cake and knew she was a huge chocolate fan – specifically of the Red Velvet. Initially I wanted to layer it with cream cheese frosting, but fate had it that I saw a Cheesecake Factory plastic bag which led me to recall that “1500 calorie per slice” cake… mmm.. I vividly remember my first time biting into that decadent cake during a trip to San Fran. My thighs were screaming out to me, telling me to stop, but my hands couldn’t find the strength to resist.
This one was a Cookie Dough Cheesecake. It’s been 2 years now, but I remember the cookie dough cake not being as good as the following Red Velvet we had that same day.
I had such great memories of my SF trip 2 years ago!! But now it’s time to (attempt to) re-create this in my kitchen!
I wanted a really tall cake with thinner layers, and so decided to make it 8 layers instead! If you do decide to make this, please ensure that you have read all the instructions before you attempt. The cakes may be made in advance and layered the next day. I made my Red Velvet the night before, and left the rest for the next day.
Part 1: Red Velvet Cake
From a recipe book: Country Living Great Cakes by Nancy Soriano.
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (softened)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 large egg yolks and 1 egg
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 3 tablespoons red food colouring (or according to “hue strength”)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup buttermilk (MUST!!!)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- Preaheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat 2 9-inch cake pans (or 4 if you have 4 available).
- Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl using a mixer set on medium-high speed until light and fluffy – about 5 minutes.
- Add the egg yolks and continue to beat for 1 more minute.
- In a separate small bowl, stir the cocoa, food colouring and vanilla together.
- Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the cocoa mixture.
- Combine buttermilk and salt in a glass measuring cup.
- Add the flour by thirds, alternating with the buttermilk mixture and ending with the dry ingredients.
- Mix the baking soda and vinegar together in a cup and blend into the batter, beating until smooth.
I’m not exactly sure why the baking soda and vinegar had to be blended in separately after everything else had been combined. Couldn’t the baking soda have been blended together with the flour and the vinegar with the buttermilk? Perhaps it was due to certain chemical reactions? Anyone knows? lol Well, at that time I didn’t want to risk the chance of a fail on my cake as that was the last of my buttermilk and I couldn’t afford the time to attempt another Red Velvet, so I followed everything as instructed… to the T!
- Bake for about 30 minutes (if in 2 pans, shorter if in 4 pans).
- After the cake has cooled, use a serrated knife to horizontally slice both layers into 2.
Part 2: New York Cheesecake
Graham Cracker-Crumb Crust:
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs, from 11 rectangular graham crackers
- 6 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 4 packages (900g/32 ounces) cream cheese, softened
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/3 cups milk
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Prepare Crumb Crust: In a 9-inch springform pan, with fork, mix crumbs, melted butter, and sugar until crumbs are evenly moistened.
- Set a little less than half aside. With a measuring cup, press the remaining crumb mixture firmly onto bottom of pan. Bake 10 minutes; cool crust in pan on wire rack. Turn oven control to 300 degrees F. The bottom crumb layer should be thicker than the subsequent middle crumb layer.
- Prepare Cheesecake: In large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth and fluffy.
- Beat in flour and vanilla until well combined.
- Reduce speed to low and add beaten eggs and egg yolk in, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Beat in milk just until blended.
- For the cheesecake, it’s almost impossible to slice it horizontally so I would definitely use 4 pans or 2 at a time. I did not use a springform pan for baking the cheesecake except for the first layer when it was baked onto the crust. I measured the volume of my batter before dividing them equally.
- Bake for about 30 minutes until set but still slightly jiggly and moist in center, and pale gold near edge.
Part 3: Whipped Cream Frosting
I didn’t want to use cream cheese frosting because the cake was already quite rich with cheesecake! Whipped cream frosting would provide subtler taste.
- 2 cups whipped cream
- 3 tablespoons of sugar (or to taste)
- Ensure your bowl and whisk have both been pre-refrigerated (cold) before.
- Beat the ingredients until stiff peaks form.
- Fill piping bag with whipped cream. Store the rest in the fridge while not using.
Part 4: Chocolate Monarch Butterflies (Optional)
Hello, Cupcake! by Karen Tack & Alan Richardson
I thought this was a neat idea and wanted to use it for my cake! I used a slightly different method from the book though.
- 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
- Red Colouring (Paste is preferred. Liquid will cause the chocolate to seize)
- Decorating pearls / sprinkles
- Draw a few templates of your butterfly on wax paper. Flip the paper around.
- Melt milk chocolate in microwave. Remove every 20 seconds to stir. When the chocolate has melted until smooth, fit into a ziploc bag and snip the corner. Pipe the outline of your template.
- Melt white chocolate chips using the same method. Add 1 or 2 drops of red colouring. You should end up with a pink colour. (Do not add too much colouring or your chocolate will seize and form an ugly gritty mass.) Fill in template with pink chocolate.
- Use a toothpick to pull a through the 2 colours from the outside toward the centre, to create a pattern. Add decorating sprinkles or pearls.
- Finally take a piece of cardboard and fold it in half. Place your butterfly on the cardboard and freeze till harden.
- Assembly: The bottom layer is the cheesecake crust, followed by one of the 4 cheesecake layers which had already been baked onto it. I’m a huge fan of graham crusts, and so I decided to add an extra layer of crust to the middle of my cake. Why not, right? 😀
- The order of layers from top to bottom is as follows:
- Red Velvet
- Red Velvet
- Graham Crust (Thinner)
- Red Velvet
- Red Velvet
- Graham Crust (Thicker)
- You could frost between the layers with a little bit of whipped cream if you like!
I double frosted the cake. My first layer of frosting was to keep the crumbs in. The second layer was to smoothen it. Since a lot of frosting was being used, the more subtle tasting whipped cream was a better choice compared to the traditional rich cream cheese frosting.
After frosting, I placed my butterflies and plaque on top. That “Happy Birthday Trace” probably took me about 45 minutes to finally get down! Writing with chocolate really wasn’t as easy as I thought! As you can see, one of my butterfly’s antennas fell off. haha.. I didn’t want to over-decorate the top since I already placed the butterflies there. Sometimes less is more right? 😀
Transporting the cake was sooooo scary. I didn’t have a box big enough to contain it! I placed the cake on a cake board I made and then in an opened container. During the car ride, I was holding on to the cake as if my life depended on it. Every sharp turn we took sent my heart to panic.
If you think this cake probably took up a lot of time, you thought right! It pretty much took me about 12 hours for the entire process, especially because I didn’t have enough pans to multi-task and didn’t exactly plan very well ahead!
It often worries me when I make birthday cakes. I can never know how it tastes before everyone else! Cupcakes are a different story because you can eat an extra one, but it’s not like you could cut yourself a slice of cake and then present the leftovers to the birthday girl! haha.. So what I like to do is to pour a little bit of batter onto a cupcake silicon before dividing the batter out on the pans. That way I get to eat a mini version of the cake. 😀
P.S. I’d like to apologize that the lighting / photography for this cake wasn’t the best! By the time the cake was completed, it was already getting dark – no natural lighting. This time, I didn’t get to stage and style at the comfort of my home either.
Although I was disappointed with my uneven layers, I’m glad this cake was a success! I loved the red velvet sponge cake! I thought the cheesecake was a little too rich though, but nevertheless complemented the red velvet quite well. I would try another cheesecake recipe in the future. But the red velvet was perfect! And of course, the butterflies got lots of compliments too! Everyone kept asking me how I made them. lol.
Alright!! That’s all for now! I’m also submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #18: Layers of Love (April 2012), a “Layered Cake” event I’m hosting this month! Please check it out if you’d be interested in participating too!!