I might be a red velvet convert after all, in spite of my stance that I'm really not that into red velvet cake.
I'm always tweaking my recipes, deliberating over ways to make them better, more flavorful, more worthy of making time and again. Lately, I've been experimenting with cake flour in my favorite cake recipes instead of all-purpose flour, and I've been pleased with the lightness it adds. I only wish it were available as inexpensively as all-purpose flour is.
But for my red velvet cake, I tried a few other modifications. I added a little more cocoa to enhance the flavor, while still not pretending that red velvet is in any way a chocolate cake. I also reduced the oil and increased the buttermilk and added four eggs instead of two. And as a result, the cake was as moist, soft and velvety as its name implies it should be, and tempting enough to seduce me into tasting more than just a bite.
But what really turned me on, besides the cream cheese of course - and a person would be mad not to be turned on by cream cheese - was the coconut, toasted to a pale golden, the darkest pieces the color of my summer tan that's quickly fading with the arrival of fall. And like a windswept pile of crisp autumn leaves, the toasted coconut is scattered over the tangy cream cheese buttercream and between each layer of soft cake, lending a sweet, crunchy contrast.
I finished the cake with a simple crumb-coat of buttercream, letting the red layers peek through, like a lovingly aged piece of furniture with its tarnished edges wearing through a fading coat of paint.
And the chocolate paws, you might ask? Those are just because I work at a dog toy company. :)
Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese and Toasted Coconut
- 2 1/4 cups cake flour or all-purpose flour
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup oil
- 1 2/3 cups full-fat buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- red gel food coloring
- 1 1/2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 4 1/2 - 5 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons meringue powder
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- milk or cream, if needed
Baker's Note: The chocolate paws are made from bittersweet chocolate chips (pressed pointed side towards the cake) and chocolate candy melts.
Preheat the oven to 350, and spray the bottoms only of three 8-inch round cake pans with non-stick spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla and food coloring. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk vigorously for several minutes until smooth and well blended. Divide batter between the pans.
Bake cakes on the middle rack for 25-28 minutes, until the centers spring back when lightly touched and a toothpick comes out clean. Set on wire racks, covered loosely with a clean kitchen towel, and cool completely in the pans.
Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and toast in a 300 degree oven for about 10 minutes, stirring once or twice so the edges don't get too dark, until lightly browned. Set aside to cool completely.
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese for 1-2 minutes until incorporated. Gradually add the powdered sugar and meringue powder, mixing on low to combine. Add the vanilla and increase speed to medium and beat for several minutes until smooth and creamy. Add a tablespoon or two of milk or cream if needed to thin the consistency.
Assemble the cake layers by frosting each with the buttercream and sprinkling with coconut before adding the next layer. Sprinkle the rest of the coconut on top of the cake.
Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen