Peeps, I’m not going to lie: this red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting basically blew the birthday boy’s mind, not to mention his father’s, and those of the assorted party guests . . . It is unbelievably moist (I know the word “moist” is controversial – sorry) due to oil, unbelievably chocolate-y (I add a bit more cocoa powder than you might find in your run- of-the-mill go-to red velvet), and the addition of sour cream in the batter and cream cheese frosting atop provides the perfect tangy contrast to the sweetness of its layers.My favorite red velvet cake of all time is the one Cake Man Raven made back in the day in Fort Greene Brooklyn, where I used to live. Apparently he is no longer baking up cake in that part of Brooklyn, and that is a tragedy, to say the least. The fact that I survived the early days of child rearing – and more importantly that my children survived me – had much to do with my daily intake of a large slice (cake man, like me, does not do “slivers” of cake) of Cake Man’s famous red confection. My second favorite is Matt and Nato’s red velvet served up at Baked, which i had the pleasure of baking – for many years – while working there. In fact, it was that cake that inspired me to develop a red velvet icebox cake, when writing the Icebox Cakes cookbook. But I digress.Long story short, this red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting is really easy and really yummy and gorgeous: I love the deeply red color that comes from food coloring, not beets – sorry, haters. Please make this cake and watch your guests swoon. This cake is a winner all day long, and then some. And I feel like you can always eat more cake . . .
Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
For the cake
- 1/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup cake flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 Tbsp red food coloring
- 2 tsp white vinegar
For the frosting
- 2 sticks of unsalted butter room temp
- 2 eight ounce packages of cream cheese room temp
- 2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 5 to 7 cups confectioners' sugar sifted
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Red sanding sugar for decorating
To make the cake
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 3 eight inch cake pans with nonstick cooking spray or softened butter, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and grease again.
- Sift together the cocoa powder, all-purpose and cake flours, salt and baking soda into a medium sized bowl and then whisk to combine.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the oil and the sugar on medium high, until thoroughly combined, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Reduce the speed to medium low, and add the eggs and yolk, one at a time, until combined, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula if necessary.
- Add the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the sour cream in two, and beginning and ending with the dry. When there are still streaks of flour in the batter, add the food coloring and vinegar, and mix until just combined.
- Transfer the batter to the three prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, testing the cakes with a cake tester at around 22 minutes. The tester should come out with a few moist crumbs when the cakes are ready.
- Place the cakes on a cooling rack and let cool until easy to handle. Invert the layers on to the cooling rack right side up and continue cooling them until they are at room temperature.
To make the frosting
- Combine the butter and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and on medium high speed, beat the butter/cream cheese until smooth and uniform. Add the vanilla and beat again.
- Place the the confectioners' sugar and salt in a large bowl and whisk until combined. With the mixer on low speed, add about a cup of the sugar at a time to the mixer bowl, beating thoroughly until combined after each addition. Once all of the sugar has been added, increase the speed of the mixer to medium or medium high, and beat the mixture til smooth. Do not over mix or the frosting will lose structure.
- Generously frost the cake with the frosting and sprinkle with red sanding sugar.