Red Velvet Cake (a.k.a. Waldorf Astoria Cake)
2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour*
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder (unsweetened)
2 oz. red food coloring
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans or three 8-inch round cake pans.
- Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside. In a small bowl, mix food coloring and cocoa powder to form a thin paste without lumps; set aside.
- In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla and the red cocoa paste, scraping down the bowl with a spatula as you go. Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beat well, then beat in half of the buttermilk. Beat in another third of flour mixture, then second half of buttermilk. End with the last third of the flour mixture, beat until well combined, making sure to scrape down the bowl with a spatula.
- Make sure you have cake pans buttered, floured, and nearby. In a small bowl, mix vinegar and baking soda. Yes, it will fizz! Add it to the cake batter and stir well to combine. Working quickly, divide batter evenly between the cake pans and place them in a preheated 350 degree oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Check early, cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. To remove the cakes from the pan, place a wire rack on top of the cake pan and invert, then gently lift the pan. Allow cakes to cool completely before frosting.
- (Seal with ganache - recipe below)
- Frost with buttercream or cream cheese icing (recipe below).
- *Sift cake flour once before measuring, then sift again with the other dry ingredients per recipe instructions. Wear an apron and be careful with the red food coloring. As you’re mixing the cake batter, use a spatula to scrape down the bowl frequently throughout the entire process.
Ganache (to seal Red Velvet Cake or just because what doesn't go with ganache?)
8 ounces (227 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup (180 ml) heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter
1 tablespoons cognac or brandy (optional)
- Ganache: Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized heatproof bowl. Set aside. Heat the cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. (Can also heat the cream and butter in the microwave.) Bring just to a boil. Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand, without stirring, for a few minutes. Stir gently (as you do not want to incorporate air into the ganache) with a spoon or whisk until smooth.
- If desired, add the liqueur.
- Makes enough ganache to cover one - 9 inch (23 cm) cake or torte.
- To Cover a Torte or Cake: If the cake you are covering needs to be refrigerated, first chill the cake. (This will ensure that the ganache will not lose its shine when the cake is stored in the refrigerator.)
- First, brush any loose crumbs from the cake. Using a cake spatula or knife, cover the sides and top of the cake with a thin layer of ganache. (This is called a crumb coat and seals in any cake crumbs so that your cake will have a smooth finish.) Refrigerate the cake for about 5 minutes or until the crumb coat has set. Then place the cake on a wire rack, and put the wire rack on top of a large baking sheet (to catch any excess ganache that drips from cake.) Then pour the ganache into the center of the cake. Working quickly, spread the ganache with a large metal spatula or knife, using big strokes to push the ganache over the sides of the cake. (This will create an even coating of ganache.) If there are any bare spots on the sides of the cake, cover with ganache. Let the ganache set before covering and storing the cake.
- Leftover ganache can be strained to remove any crumbs.
- It can be used to make chocolate truffles. Cover and refrigerate the ganache until firm (several hours or overnight).Roll into small balls and then roll in cocoa powder, confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar or chopped nuts. You can use your hands to form the truffles, a melon baller or small spoon. Truffles can be refrigerated for a couple of weeks or else frozen for a couple of months.
Cream Cheese Frosting for Red Velvet Cake
16 oz. cream cheese (2 packages), softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter (one stick), softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
pinch of salt
- With an electric mixer, blend together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Turn mixer to low speed and blend in powdered sugar, salt and vanilla extract. Turn mixer on high and beat until light and fluffy.
- Use immediately or refrigerate, covered, until ready to use. If refrigerated, the frosting will need to be brought to room temperature before using (after frosting softens up, beat with mixer until smooth).
- If you prefer a sweeter and/or stiffer frosting, more powdered sugar can be added (up to four cups). But remember, the more sugar you add, the less you’ll be able to taste the tangy cream cheese!