You guys know I’ve been working on my layer cake making skills! After practicing with a cake from Cake By Courtney and watching a bunch of YouTube videos I decided to try my hand at one of my own! This Homemade Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is perfect for Valentine’s Day which is right around the corner!
Red velvet cake dates way back and according to Wikipedia the reason the cake was first referred to as “red” is because the reaction between the vinegar and the buttermilk helps to bring out the reddish hue of the anthocyanin in the cocoa. These days, pretty much all recipes call for red food coloring, making the cake truly red. The “velvet” refers to the light, fluffy texture of the cake which is also cause by the reaction between the vinegar and the buttermilk!
So much science, right?!
Baking is all about science, that is why sometimes our baked goods flop, if we don’t get the science right (ie. ingredient amounts or combination, temperature, etc…) they just don’t work. I find this is extra important in layer cakes, especially if we want them to look perfectly layered.
Here are my 5 tips for making a better, flatter layer cake:
- Do Double Duty – prep your cake pans by spraying them generously with cooking spray AND line the bottom with parchment paper. You don’t want any part of your cake getting stuck in the pan!
- Put A Belt On It – use a cake belt on all of your cake pans to get even layers! Cake belts help the cake layers cook evenly and flat so they do not rise up in the middle. Follow this tutorial for DIY or buy reusable belts.
- Even Steven – use a kitchen scale to weigh out the cake batter and divide it evenly between the layers, this way the layers will all be the same height.
- Freeze Before Frosting – a more solid cake is a lot easier to frost, freeze for at least 20 minutes before frosting. Freeze again between your crumb coat and final coat of frosting.
- Flip Flop – it seems wrong, but flip your cake layers over and use the bottom of the cake as the top! Even with a cake belt the bottom is going to be flatter than the top.
Red Velvet Cake
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp red food coloring, liquid
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp white vinegar
Cream Cheese Frosting
2 8oz bricks full fat cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp salt
1 tsp clear vanilla extract
2 lbs (7 1/2 cups) confectioners sugar
1 tbsp heavy cream
Red Velvet Cake
Preheat oven to 350°F
Prepare 3, 8-inch cake pans by first greasing the bottom and sides with cooking spray and then covering the bottom with a round piece of parchment paper
Sift the cake flour and cocoa powder into the bowl of your electric mixer
Fit mixer with blade attachment, mix
Add baking powder, salt and white sugar, mix until fully combined
In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and vanilla
Add to mixture to mixing bowl, mix
Add vegetable oil, mix
Mix in food coloring
Quickly add buttermilk, baking soda and vinegar, mix until just combined
Apply cake belts to outside of cake pans* (optional)
Split batter evenly between the 3 cake pans (about 14oz per pan**)
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean
When done, remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes
Carefully remove cakes from cake pans and allow to cool completely on a wire baking rack
Once cake is cool, carefully put layers into the freezer for at least 20 minutes before baking***
Cream Cheese Frosting
Add cream cheese to the bowl of your mixer fitted with blade attachment
Beat until smooth
Add butter, beat until smooth
Using a silicon spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl
Beat on high again until smooth
Add salt and vanilla, mix
Slowly add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time
Before the last 1 1/2 cups of sugar add the heavy cream
Once all ingredients are fully incorporated beat on high until totally smooth and fluffy, 3-5 minutes****
Remove cake from freezer
Put a large dollop of frosting on the base of where you are going to frost the cake so the cake stays in place
Flip cake layers over so you are frosting the flat side
Frost the top of the first layer
Repeat with second layer
Add top layer, using a thin layer of frosting apply the crumb coat*****
Transfer the whole cake to the freezer for 20 minutes
Remove cake and apply a thick, even layer of frosting to the top and sides of the cake
Decorate with sprinkles and Hershey’s kisses if desired
**I highly recommend using a kitchen scale to measure the batter if you want perfectly even layers
***You can make and freeze the cake layers in advance, just make sure you wrap them up well in plastic wrap and keep them in a safe place where they won’t get squished. If you are going to store them for more than 2 days, wrap them in aluminum foil as well and put them into gallon sized plastic bags so they do not get freezer burn
****You can also make the frosting in advance, store it in the refrigerator, preferably in your mixing bowl. Before frosting the cake, bring the frosting to room temperature and mixing it up again so it is easy to work with.
*****The crumb coat locks in any cake crumbs so you can apply a smooth outer layer of frosting
Keywords: #redvelvetcake, #homemadecakes, #layercakes
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