Let me just say off the bat that I’m fundamentally against red velvet cake. Yes, it’s because it’s just barely chocolate (a couple tablespoons of cocoa powder, typically, so as to not overwhelm the colour) and somewhere around a bottle’s worth of red food colouring. That’s what makes it red. Give me a big ol’ chocolate cake – taste over aesthetics – any day.
(By the way, I’ve tried it with beets – it does lend the palest of reddish hues, but once cooked the beets never have the same intensity of traditional red velvet cakes made with food colouring.)
But I appreciate that other people are enamoured with it, and that’s all that matters when you’re making a birthday cake for someone. And when a that someone tweets that he will be very disappointed if no one makes him a 15 tier red velvet cake (joking, yes), you make one, right? Right? Just for kicks?
I’ve always meant to make one of those cakes that look almost like a stack of crepes, with uber-thin layers – I think mostly I love the idea of the cake:frosting ratio. You don’t slice the cake layers crosswise in halves or thirds (too tricky and crumby); you spread small quantities of batter into baking pans and bake them for a short time, so you wind up with thin cake layers that are sturdier than you might think, almost like big cakey cookies. These didn’t crumble. I wouldn’t expect a mix to produce the same results.
So last night I got it in my head that it might be a good idea to attempt such a cake. If you are like me, you will attempt this in your stand mixer and make an enormous mess, simply due to the quantity of ingredients and their proximity to the rim of the bowl. If you’re like me you’ll give up at the end and stir by hand until everything looks like cake batter.
So we put on The Fantastic Mr Fox and then I made Mike pause it approximately every 12 minutes to rotate the thin cake layers in and out of the oven. I used three 9″ pans. It wasn’t a big deal, really-they cook quickly. Flip them out, wipe out the pan and spread in some more batter. Just make sure you have the counter space. I cooled them on racks and then kept them with a piece of parchment between each layer to frost the next day.
I used cream cheese frosting, but didn’t quite make enough – this is enough to spread a peanut butter thickness on each layer, but as you can see the sides are a little stripey – I didn’t anticipate the sides needing as much frosting as it did, on account of all the space between each layer. It sucked up a lot. Next time I’d make half again as much icing, or double it, even. Yes, that’s a lot of icing – but I think next time (next time??) I’d prefer the frosting a little thicker between layers. They stripey effect would be more dramatic when you cut into it. But I did kind of like the stripey effect on the outside, even though it was unintentional.
Happy birthday Dan!