Sunday, December 02, 2007

Red Velvet Cake-From The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook

I have had so many disappointing red velvet cakes--oil-based cakes with little flavor.  I
will definitely try this one. It sounds fab.

Makes one 2-layer, 9-inch cake; enough for 12 people
Time: 1 1/2 hours

For the cake:
2-3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon sifted cake flour or 2-1/2 cups sifted bleached
all-purpose flour, plus more for flouring the pans
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup natural cocoa powder such as Hershey's
1 ounce red food coloring
1-1/2 tablespoons water
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pans
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1-1/2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange zest (from 1–2 oranges)
1 cup whole or lowfat buttermilk

For the icing:
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 pound cream cheese (2 packages), softened
1 pound (4 cups) sifted confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons whole milk, if needed

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-by-2-inch cake pans
or line their bottoms with greased, floured waxed paper.

2.Sift the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together twice. In a
small mixing bowl, whisk the cocoa, red food coloring, and water to a smooth
paste, about 1 minute, and reserve.

3. In a large mixing bowl, beat 1 cup butter with an electric mixer until
creamy, about 30 seconds. Add the sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, beating about 15
seconds after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl if
necessary, until the mixture has lightened in color and become fluffy, about 2
minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, the vanilla, and orange zest, beating for 15
seconds after each addition. Add the red cocoa paste and mix until evenly
incorporated.

4. Add the flour mixture to the butter and egg mixture in thirds, alternating
with 2 additions of half the buttermilk. To avoid overworking the batter, gently
mix with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula after each addition, until the
ingredient is just incorporated. Once all ingredients are incorporated, beat the
batter 10 to 12 strokes with your spoon or spatula if using cake flour, 2 to 3
strokes if using bleached all-purpose flour.

5. Divide the batter between the cake pans and spread the tops evenly with the
wooden spoon or spatula. Bake until a cake tester or toothpick emerges clean,
about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the cakes cool in their pans on a
rack for 10 minutes, then slide a thin paring knife around the edge of the pans
and invert the cakes. Lift away the waxed paper, if using. Cool the cakes
completely on a rack, with their tops facing up.

6. In a large bowl, beat 3/4 cup butter with the mixer until creamy, about 30
seconds. Add the cream cheese and beat until the mixture is fluffy, white, and
very smooth, about 1 minute. Add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time,
beating for 30 seconds after each addition, until the mixture is creamy, fluffy,
and smooth. If the frosting is too stiff, beat the milk into it to loosen it.

7. Gently ice the cake layers generously. Spoon 1 cup of icing in the center of
the first cake layer. Working an icing or rubber spatula in gentle swirling
motions, spread the icing from the center toward the edges of the cake until it
forms an even layer 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick (if you need to add more icing, add it
to the center and work it out toward the sides).

8. Carefully set the second cake layer on top of the first and ice the second
layer in the same manner, beginning with a dollop in the center and working it
out to the sides. Then ice the sides of the cake. (If you prepared your pans
well, the sides of the cake should have pulled away from the pan and baked to a
firm, flat surface. But if the sides are crumbly, brush excess crumbs away and
place a thin layer of icing on the cake to seal the crumbs in. Refrigerate for
30 minutes, then apply another, thicker layer on top of the first.)

9. Store the cake at room temperature, beneath a cake cover. If you don't plan
to eat it for 24 hours, put it on a plate, tent it with plastic wrap, and store
it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Remember to remove the cake from the
refrigerator 1 hour or more before serving to take the chill off. Serve with
glasses of cold milk.

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