Friday, 7 December 2012

Not very red velvet cake

For the second meeting of the Stamford Clandestine Cake Club, the theme was 'Black Tie', the idea being that instead of going to a fancy party, we'd make our cakes the glamorous element while we could all lounge around definitely not wearing black tie. I thought, one might wear a red velvet dress to a black tie event, so decided on a red velvet cake - decorated with white Malteasers, pretending to be pearls.

'Red' velvet cake with white Malteasers

Of course, best laid plans and all that. In the event, I had food colouring issues, and ended up with a brown velvet cake. I still argue that you might wear a brown velvet dress to a black tie do...

I used a recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook for red velvet cupcakes, and doubled the recipe to make a large cake. It was far from incident-free - but, as is the important thing, it tasted quite lovely.

I would like to enter this cake into the Tea Time Treats challenge for December, the theme being Chocolate (admittedly I could enter quite a lot into this category!) - this month being hosted by the lovely What Kate Baked (it could also have gone into last month's 'cake' themed TTT, which was hosted by the equally lovely Karen at Lavender and Lovage but I wasn't quick enough!).

120g butter
150g caster sugar
2 eggs
20g cocoa powder
Red food colouring - the recipe says 40ml Dr Oetker food colouring for a large cake, but I don't like using it in such quantities, so I bought some proper gel stuff. However, I think I did it wrong (I think I should have diluted it in some liquid before adding it to the mix, but didn't, and hence the cake stayed brown!)
1 tsp vanilla paste
240ml buttermilk
300g plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarb
3 tsps white wine vinegar

Ready for cake club
 Preheat the oven to 170C (160 fan)
Prepare two 20cm cake tins
Beat the butter and sugar togethre.
Slowly add the eggs.
In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa, food colouring, and vanilla. Mix into the egg mixture.
Slowly add half  the buttermilk, followed by half the flour, then the remaining buttermilk, and rest of the flour.
Add the salt, bicarb, and vinegar, and mix until combined.
Fill the cake tins equally and bake for about 25 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.

I wanted to cut each layer into two, so there would be four layers to the cake - but, one decided to fall apart as I got it out of the tin, so I didn't want to risk it falling completely to pieces by trying to slice them in half.

Sandwich the layers together with a cream cheese buttercream frosting (I used 300g icing sugar, 50g butter, and 125g cream cheese, and this was enough to sandwich the layers and also cover the top and sides). I attempted painting the cake all over with melted apricot jam, in order to prevent crumbs mixing into the frosting. However, this didn't work either (a comedy of errors, this cake was), and so all the frosting got a bit crumby. I decorated it with white chocolate Malteasers. Best to eat this cake quickly because of the cream cheese in the frosting.

Not very red on the inside...
Although it looked nothing like it was supposed to, and I really missed the dramatic redness that I was expecting, this cake definitely tasted lovely. It is light and fluffy while being moist too, and the tang of the cream cheese frosting really works well.


  1. Your cake looks gorgeous. I used Dr Oetker red food gel recently wanting a vivid red on my cupcakes but after an entire tube in a tiny amount of icing the best I got was very dark pink so I resorted to photo cheating! So I don't blame you I blame Dr Oetker - they never did respond to my tweet complaining about their duff colouring! I've since bought some liquid colour and I'm sure that will be a lot better.

  2. I too have had exactly the same problem with Red Velvet type bakes- I made Red Velvet Whoopie Pies which were most certainly more Pink Velvet! But I've no doubt your cake was a huge success at the Cake Club and thank you very much for entering it into TTT!

  3. I know we chatted about this on Twitter, but for me a cake has to taste GOOD and its looks are secondary, and this looks like a LUSH cake Sophie! I think it looks dark and suitably mysterious! GREAT TTT entry thanks! Karen

  4. The only time I have ever pulled this off was by using a full tub of Christmas Red GEL colouring (it wasn't DR O it was the type you get form cake dec suppliers). Liquid does not work at all and you need a really strong red.
    Colour aside the cake looks divine and I could easily eat a slice now. x

  5. Well, it may not have turned out very red, but it certainly looks delicious! And the white malteasers on top make it look very festive :-)

  6. I believe your problem is natural food colours are not heat stable, so red will become brown when baked. Squires kitchen sell heat stable colours. Only use natural colours with icing not baking.


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