Red Velvet Cake with Fresh Berries and Cream Cheese Frosting

When you make a cake this big for the first time there are several questions that go through your mine that no one seems to know the answer to. For example where do you get a recipe for something like that? can you just scale a normal recipe up a bunch and call it good? will there be enough? will it cook in the center? is a turntable really worth it? what the hell are cake strips? baking cores? do I need one? two? wait, what do I need? Well here are answers to some of my big questions:

1. Yes you can just scale a normal recipe up. I ended up making two 14 inch, four 10 inch, and four 6 inch cakes and it took 10 batches for one double layer 9 inch cake. You’ll need to lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees and increase the baking time for the larger cakes and for all sizes keep an eye on them as they bake. The best thing to do is to watch them carefully and do one trial cake (normal size) to know how the recipe and your oven work. Some additional tips:

  • Grease and flour the pans WELL
  • Be patient removing them from the pans. patient and gentle.
  • ALL cakes can and should be baked, cooled and frozen at least two days in advance. You will need more time than you think no matter what.

2. Baking cores and cake strips didn’t seem to do anything for me but create more work and spend more money. Skip them. Your cake will probably dome up in the middle or fall, if you check it too often causing the oven temp to drop. Knowing that, you will trim and frost your cake after it’s frozen so doming/sinking doesn’t really matter.

3. Cream cheese frosting does not set. Do not use it for a crumb coat.

4. Sift your powdered sugar and beat it in in portions, not all at once; all at once will leave you with lumps in your frosting which is not very pretty.

5. Fresh berries bleed into frosting. Toss them in a berry glaze before decorating the cake with them and you’ll be fine.

6. Turntables are SO worth the $15. Get one.

7. Plan, plan, plan.

Alright, here’s what I did:

I went with the Red Velvet recipe from BonAppetit: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2003/06/red_velvet_cake_with_raspberries_and_blueberries

Red Velvet Cake with Raspberries and Blueberries

Ingredients

CAKE
FROSTING

Preparation

FOR CAKE:
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Sift sifted flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into medium bowl. Whisk buttermilk, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla in small bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Beat in dry ingredients in 4 additions alternately with buttermilk mixture in 3 additions.
  • Divide batter between prepared pans.
  • Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 27 minutes. Cool in pans on racks 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto racks; cool completely.
FOR FROSTING:
  • Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth.
  • Beat in vanilla. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
  • Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on platter.
  • Spread 1 cup frosting over top of cake. Arrange 1 basket raspberries and 1/2 basket blueberries atop frosting, pressing lightly to adhere. Top with second cake layer, flat side down. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Arrange remaining berries decoratively over top of cake. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.)

I followed the recipe exactly and did a trial cake a week before in the kitchen I would use for the actual cake to make sure the yummy factor was satisfactory and familiarize myself with the oven and kitchen. Doing a trial cake also lets you know how the cake stands up to refrigeration storage when cooked in advance.

Now as far as assembly goes I was always confused about “dowels” and what they looked like, how they were used/sized, and where to put them. Just so you know, each cake needs a cardboard round on the base and will rest on top of the dowels in the cake below. Dowel are hollow and cut with a serrated knife; plastic worked well for me. One piece of cake will be “sacrificed” but if you are like me your cake meant for 150 will easily be twice what is needed for 150. Wilton has some sizing charts (http://www.wilton.com/cakes/making-cakes/baking-wedding-cake-2-inch-pans.cfm) which are pretty accurate since cake comes after drinks and a meal and people usually aren’t all that hungry at that point.

Here are some photos of my adventure.

My Creations

But wait! There’s more!

You might be wondering what all those balls are that spell out “ED” and have candles stuck in them. Those are what a wonderful food blogger named Bakerella invented called cake balls. The recipe is here but it’s pretty much cooked cake crumbled up and mixed with frosting to form a dough/clay which you can sculpt, mold, shape or simply devour because it’s ridiculously rich and moist and delicious and oh so yummy! Here’s the original link: http://www.bakerella.com/red-velvet-cake-balls/

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