I can’t tell you how many times people have asked me the secret to a good red velvet cake recipe. People swear to me [and I’m not braggin’] that my red velvet cake is the best. You wanna know the secret? No, you don’t have to move to the South. No, you don’t need to add vinegar. No, you don’t have to use buttermilk. You wanna know? Do ya? Do ya? Okay. Here’s the answer….Drum roll….wait for it, wait for it…
You go to www.mcCormick.com and look for the recipe. Or better yet; it’s right below for your convenience. That’s right. The same recipe I have been using for years comes straight from the people who supply that red food color/one ounce of/love it red boldness/gotta make red velvet cake color red food color. That’s right. You heard me right. I’m not even kidding. I’ve tried all kinds of recipes and theirs is the best. I swear-you just have to trust me on this. I just have one piece of advice. When you go to the store to buy the McCormick red food color buy more than one bottle. Buy three. Next time when you want to make red velvet cake and you can’t find red food color because let’s say it’s the eve of Valentines Day and every other baker Betty has cleared the shelf; you’ll thank me. Keep it on hand. Okay, down to business. One other piece of advice. Make sure the dairy and the eggs are room temp when you go to mix the batter. That’s it. Carry on.
Red Velvet Cake
(recipe from McCormick spice co.)
(yield: 24 cupcakes, one 2 layer 9 inch cake or one 9 x 13 inch pan)
1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (such as Hershey’s)
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs (room temp)
1 cup sour cream (room temp)
1/2 cup milk (room temp)
1 bottle (1 ounce) McCormick® Red Food Color
2 teaspoons vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 2 (9-inch) round cake pans; or (for cupcakes prepare a standard size muffin/cupcake tin with 24 paper liners) or (for 9×13 inch pan grease and flour the pan, tap out excess flour). Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
2. Beat butter and granulated sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Mix in sour cream, milk, food color and vanilla. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until just blended. Do not overbeat. Pour batter into prepared pans/cupcake pan. [For cupcakes use a 1/4 cup equivalent ice cream scoop to fill them 2/3 full].
3. For 9 inch Cake pans: Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. For Cupcakes: Bake for 20-22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. For 9 x 13 inch pan; Bake for about 40 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pans if using 9 inch pans; cool completely on wire rack.
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING: (Suzie tip: I make double the amount of the recipe originally called for in the recipe). I can’t stand a cake that wimps out on the amount of frosting. I’m just sayin’
2 (8 oz. packages) (1 lb. total) cream cheese, softened
1/2 Cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/4 Cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 lbs. confectioners’ sugar
(optional)* 8 oz. white chocolate melted and cooled
Beat cream cheese, butter, sour cream and vanilla in large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Fill and frost cooled cake or frost cupcakes with frosting.
* Suzie variation: If I’m making the 9 inch cake where I’m using the frosting as filling and frosting I like to add the white chocolate. It gives the frosting a little more body and adds a really rich flavor.
Pumpkin Orange Spice Cake
Fall is officially here according to the calendar. This is exciting for us San Franciscans because it means finally our fog is lifting and we are coming into our “Indian summer”. The sky is suddenly blue instead of white, the sun is shining, the days are shorter but the smell of fall is in the air, and it’s such a fabulous time. This means pumpkins and orange colors of every hue. Big pumpkins, orange pumpkins, white pumpkins, cute little mini pumpkins and everything pumpkin in terms of baking.
I make this cake every fall and I always make the marzipan pumpkins that go on top of the cake. I actually taught my son Seth how to make the marzipan pumpkins and once he starts there is no stopping him. Seth loves to make anything out of marzipan. Everytime I whip out the marzipan he begs me to get involved. Molding shapes out of marzipan is like playdoh for adults. I think that’s why Seth really likes the marzipan……..you see I sort of banned playdoh in our house when he was little. Don’t judge…It’s just that I got tired of picking pieces of hard gunk out of the carpet….but I digress. This cake is very moist because of the pumpkin in the batter. It is a great way to welcome in the beginning of Fall.
Pumpkin Orange Spice Cake (yields 8 inch 3 layer cake, or 10 inch 2 layer cake)
3/4 C Unsalted butter, softened (1 1/2 sticks)
1 C Light brown sugar
1 C Sugar
3 Lg. eggs
1 C Pumpkin puree
1/2 C Buttermilk
2 tsp. Vanilla
2 oranges; zested
2 C All-purpose flour
2 tsp. Baking powder
1 tsp. Baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
1/4 tsp. Ground ginger
1 tsp. Salt
1/2 C Toasted walnuts or pecans (+ more for sides of cake)
1/3 C candied orange peel* (optional) [around this time in the stores you can start to find it in little shallow tubs packed in syrup] or you can make your own. (I make my own; but that is a recipe for another time).
Mascarpone cream cheese Icing (recipe below)
1. Preheat the oven to 350º. Prepare your chosen pans by spraying with baking spray and lining with parchment circles; spray again lightly.
2. Combine the pumpkin, buttermilk, orange zest, and vanilla. Set aside.
3. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt; whisk to combine.
4. Using a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars on medium high speed until smooth and well combined.
5. Add in the eggs one at a time; stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl after each addition.
6. Starting with the flour, alternate adding the flour and pumpkin mixture; scraping bowl in between each addition and ending with the flour mixture.
7. Divide the batter evenly into the pans and Bake at 350º for ~ 25-30 minutes or until the edges are browned and a toothpick coms out clean.
8. Cool the cakes on a wire rack for about 15 minutes, then remove to cool completely on the rack. Ice the cake with the cream cheese icing when completely cool.
Mascarpone cream cheese icing
(3) 8 oz. bricks cream cheese; softened
8 oz. container mascarpone cheese; softened
1/2 stick (1/4 C unsalted butter, softened)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
5 Cups confectioners sugar (measure, then sift)
1. Sift the sugar, then set aside.
2. Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment; beat the cream cheese, mascarpone, and butter until smooth. Add in the sugar a little at a time on low speed until combined. Add the vanilla and beat on medium high speed until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.
orange food coloring (gel type) * found at cake supply stores
whole cloves (or chocolate jimmies)
Method: Wear latex free gloves or use a plastic bag to color your marzipan. Add a little bit of orange coloring to the marzipan and knead in the coloring with your hands until desired color. I like to do two different colors of orange; one a bit darker. Once the color looks evenly distributed; pick off a ball of marzipan and roll into a ball. Using a toothpick rock the toothpick against the sides of the ball lightly to create pumpkin lines. Flatten the top of the ball slightly. Stick the whole clove or chocolate jimmy into the top. Warning; if you use the cloves; warn your guests not to eat the cloves; they are only for decoration or you can use the chocolate jimmy if you have small children or are concerned. I love to use the cloves because it the stem looks more real and also it gives off a nice scent.