My sister Mary had a really big July. It’s not often that someone has her first baby and turns 40 within one week’s time. Luckily the delivery went really well and my sister had a beautiful, big, pink-cheeked, dark-haired baby boy named Nathan. He beat that other baby born this July by an ounce, weighing in at 8 pounds, 7 ounces and 20 inches long. The whole family, Mary, her husband Austin, Nathan, and their dog Kayma, are settling in at home, working on a routine, and hoping for some sleep here and there.
I was in charge of making dinner and a cake for Mary on her birthday, and I knew the answer even before I asked her what kind of cake she wanted. I had made her a red velvet cake back in June for her baby shower, and she told me she had daydreamed about that cake ever since!
I use a recipe from my favorite baking blog, Brown Eyed Baker, that is truly divine – moist and delicious. In fact Mary says it’s the best cake she has ever had. Wow! So here is the recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker.
Ingredients for the cake:
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 6 tablespoons red food coloring
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 cups + 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
Ingredients for the frosting:
- 8 ounces (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
- 8 ounces ( 1 block) cream cheese, at room temperature
- about 8 cups (1 bag) powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans.
*Tip – use Crisco, not butter, to grease the pans. Butter has a high water content and as it melts it can make your cakes soggy.*
2. Using a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy on medium-high speed, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs. Turn the mixer to high and mix until well blended. Don’t forget to stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed!
3. In another bowl, stir together the red food coloring, cocoa powder and vanilla extract until it forms a paste. Add the paste to the butter/sugar/egg mixture and mix on medium speed to combine, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
*Tip – if you have gel food coloring instead of liquid, combine the gel coloring with warm water. Use about 2 tablespoons gel coloring with 4 tablespoons water to make the 6 tablespoons total.*
4. Turn the mixer to low speed and slowly add half of the buttermilk, then half of the flour. Mix until combined well then stop and scrape the sides of the bowl. Turn the mixer back on low, add the other half of buttermilk, then the other half of the flour and again stop and scrape the bowl. Turn the mixer to high and mix until the batter is smooth.
5. Turn the mixer back down to low and add the salt, baking soda, and vinegar. Crank the mixer back up to high and mix until everything is well incorporated and the batter is nice and smooth.
6. Pour half the batter into each of the prepared cake pans. Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
7. Cool for about 10 minutes in the pan before turning the cakes out onto cooling racks. Make sure the cake is completely cooled before frosting or your icing will slide off!
*Tip – As you remove ingredients from your refrigerator, don’t drop the butter dish onto your foot. It will hurt. Possibly for days.*
8. Frosting: In your stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the butter and cream cheese until it’s smooth, about 5 minutes on high. Turn the mixer to low (or you’ll end up with powdered sugar all over your kitchen). Slowly, add the powdered sugar in small increments, mixing between each addition, until all the sugar is incorporated. Add the vanilla extract. Beat the icing on medium high for a couple of minutes, until it is light and fluffy.
*Note – This icing is not as stiff as traditional buttercream. It’s best to keep the decorating simple.*
When icing the cake, pile a generous amount of icing on top and then smooth the top and push the excess icing down onto the sides. Then, adding more icing as needed, coat the sides of the cake. This will help prevent getting crumbs in the icing.
You can also spread a thin layer of icing all over the cake, not worrying about crumbs, then go back over the cake with a second thicker layer. The first “crumb coat” layer will lock in the crumbs so your second layer will be crumb free.
Thanks for reading!