So it was my sister Kate's birthday this weekend and to mark the occasion, she brought the cavalry down to Wexford to celebrate. Well in advance she had the orders put in - the booze, the present, the cake, even the hangover dinner! So with the present in the bag, the fridge stocked, the hangover feast ready to go, all that was left was the cake ...
No better woman to tell you exactly what she wants, Kate requested one of her favourites - a classic American Red Velvet Cake! A dramatic looking red sponge cake with contrasting white cream cheese frosting the Red Velvet Cake is something of a show stopper. There's a subtle hint of chocolate in the sponge that works really well with the vanilla frosting. It's also surprisingly easy to make which is always a bonus!
So, after a pretty hilarious night out on the tiles, there were some tender heads this morning and rather than reach for the panadol or motillium, the cure of the day seemed to be tea, pulled pork and birthday cake! Kate had great intentions of bringing leftovers back to Dublin but, when they finally managed to drag their weary bodies from the couch to head home, they left empty handed. There is but a sliver of cake left on the kitchen table after this monstrosity of a cake was devoured! I think that's a pretty good sign of how tasty the cake was!
300g Caster Sugar
40g Cocoa Powder
50ml Red food Colouring Liquid / 1 tablespoon Red Food Colouring Paste
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
300g Plain Gluten Free Flour
1 teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda
3 teaspoons White Vinegar
(Serves 14 easily!)
Preheat the oven to 170'C and grease three 20cm round tins (or the nearest you have to this!).
In a free standing mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs and make sure they are mixed in well. Mix the cocoa powder, vanilla and food colouring together in a small bowl to form a paste and then beat this into the butter mixture.
Sieve the dry ingredients into a separate bowl and then add half of this to the wet ingredients. Add in half of the buttermilk, followed by the rest of the flour and then the rest of the buttermilk. This ensures that everything gets mixed in evenly.
Finally, in a cup, combine the vinegar and bicarbonate of soda (these ingredients are used instead of baking powder to cause the cake to rise but they also react with the chemicals in the cocoa powder to create a more vibrant red colour). Thoroughly mix this vinegar concoction into the cake batter and then divide the batter evenly among the 3 cake tins.
Bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake. Leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes and then carefully turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before icing.
300g Full Fat Cream Cheese
600g Icing Sugar
100g Butter, softened
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 tablespoon Full Fat Milk
Using a free standing mixer on the slowest speed, mix all of the ingredients together until just combined. Turn the mixer up to the maximum speed and cream the icing until it is light and fluffy. If you prefer a slightly softer icing, add in a few more drops of milk. Taste the icing and make sure you're happy with the flavour, adding more vanilla if preferred.
And now to assemble this beast of a cake ...
Take one layer of the cake and ice the top of it with about a quarter of the icing (this will be the bottom layer). Spreading the icing is much easier if you place a butter knife in a cup of boiling water, wiping it dry just before using it to spread the icing. This gives a nice clean finish.
Place another sponge layer on top of the iced base. Again, ice the top of this layer with a quarter of the icing. Top this off with the final cake layer and spread a quarter of the icing all over the cake. Pop the cake in the fridge for about half an hour to set this layer before spreading the rest of the icing over the entire cake, smoothing with the back of the butter knife.
Tip: For an extra touch, you could trim a very thin layer of sponge of the top of each of the layers before assembling the cake (usually the cake will have a slight rise in the centre so you could trim this off). Keep this excess sponge aside and then use it to sprinkle over the cake as decoration once it is iced.