In the Kitchen: Red Velvet Cake

10 Mar

My memories of red velvet cake are relatively young. I don’t remember having my first bite until sometime in college, and even then, I wasn’t hooked until I tried a version by Archer Farms at SuperTarget’s grocery. That cake was revelatory: a large slice of 2 layers bright-red, moist cake, sandwiching a slather of chocolate ganache, covered in cream cheese frosting and garnished with more chocolate on the outside. I never thought I could get a cake so delicious from a supermarket.

So, inspired by my favorite consumer goods super store, I decided to take on my greatest baking endeavor to date: baking a cake, using the red velvet cake and cream cheese recipe from my new fave baking blog, Bakerella, and a chocolate ganache recipe from Emeril (and Food Network).

This turned out to be a much more daunting task than I first imagined. I learned many lessons along the way…

The enduring task of sifting 6 cups of sugar with a mini-sieve

Lesson #1: Unfortunately, some of the cake broke off when I tried sliding it out of the pan. My guess is that a) I should’ve used Crisco instead of butter to grease the pan before flouring it, or b) I should have removed them immediately after letting them cool for 10 mintues. I used the broken layer as the top layer and just slathered frosting all over to cover my injured cake.

Lesson #2: Monitor cakes closely, especially in the last few mintues. They turned out a bit more dry and crumbly than I’d preferred. I’ll be sure to take them out a few minutes earlier than the suggested time.

Lesson #3: Don’t try to skimp on the fat when making a cake. If it calls for buttermilk, use real, choc-full-o-fat buttermilk. Pass on the fat-free cream cheese and bring on the fatty stuff. I used lowfat in both. I might’ve lost a little thickness and flavor in the cake and my frosting tasted WAY too sweet. I counteracted the sweetness with a trip to Safeway for another block of regular cream cheese and slowly added more to the mix until I got the right amount of sweetness and tanginess.

Lesson #4: Only spread a thin layer of ganache, and make sure it’s an even layer. Just because I like lots of chocolate, doesn’t mean everyone else does. I used ALL of the ganache for the middle layer and it turned out to be too much for those who ate my cake. The layer also became gradually thicker into the middle, which looked kind of funny. (Leftover ganache, by the way, can be used for homemade truffles).

The end result. Not as pretty as Bakerella's but who cares when it tastes good?

Taste Test: Success. In the end, the cake turned out to be rich and decadent, and received a collective thumbs up from my guinea pigs (a.k.a. the friends who came over that night).


One Response to “In the Kitchen: Red Velvet Cake”


  1. In the Kitchen (w/ Amanda): Almond cake with Nutella buttercream frosting « The Novice Nosher - June 18, 2010

    […] probably the most complicated baking project I endeavored (or at least helped with), other than the lopsided Red Velvet I made back in the early Spring. It’s so worth it though, when you toil over something like a […]

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