'I really do adore celebrations. It has always made me happy knowing that there are special days designated for certain things that are pleasant and enjoyable. Birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers, graduations, holidays, promotions…heck, I even celebrate Saturdays sometimes just because I made it through the week. There is just something about taking the time to prepare something -- anything -- for one person or for 400 people because of a specific reason, and having them enjoy it (and the occasion, of course) immensely.
To me very few celebratory occasions don’t call for a dessert of some sort -- and what dessert springs to mind when someone says “fete” to me? Well, if I had to choose just one, I would say it would be, on most occasions, CAKE. Cakes are festive and fun, beautiful and delicious, celebratory and chock full of well wishes for those who share in the utter indulgence of them.
I am always searching for the perfect cake recipe. There are probably at least a thousand of them out there, patiently waiting to be baked by someone who truly loves them. I have come across a few in my lifetime so far, and they are in my “bake for company” treasure chest/folder when I am at a loss for what to make for dessert. There is the most perfect, Decadent Chocolate Torte, the delicious, and light Fresh Strawberry Cake and of course the time-honored, quadruple (plus) tested Inside-out German Chocolate Cake.
All of these are impressive, easy to make and absolutely delicious. But I needed a new recipe to add to this grouping -- one that didn’t have too much chocolate in it and one that could be decorated in a variety of festive ways. I hunted through my stacks of recipes for at least an hour one evening last week and at the bottom of the higgledy-piggledy pile I finally found it. Red Velvet Cake: this cake is most definitely festive and even has an air of it’s-very-nearly-almost-soon-going-to-almost-be-spring about it with its vivid, beautiful colours. It makes me so happy when I find a recipe that fits an occasion so perfectly (in this instance, Monday’s upcoming celebrations of L-O-V-E). And this one is unquestionably going into my “bake for company” folder.
Red Velvet Cake
This is an extremely festive cake - and looks quite decadent and impressive when served. It is great for birthdays and Valentine’s Day and would be absolutely perfect for a small wedding. It is light and has a perfect texture and the icing is not too sweet...total perfection in a confection!
For the Cake:
2 1/4 cups - sifted cake flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon red paste food coloring
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
For the Frosting:
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon CLEAR* vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
about 1 cup fresh blackberries
about 1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced in half
about 3 cups fresh blueberries
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter, line with parchment, butter again and flour one deep 10-inch-diameter cake pan or two not-so-deep 8-inch-diameter cake pans.
2. Mix together already sifted flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk the buttermilk, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla in separate small bowl.
3. Beat sugar and butter together in the bowl of an electric mixer, until well blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each. Beat in dry ingredients in 4 additions alternately with buttermilk mixture in 3 additions.
4. Pour batter into the prepared pan/pans. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 - 40 minutes (for large, deep pan, slightly less for smaller, less deep pans). Cool in pan on rack for about 10 minutes. Turn cake out onto rack and cool completely.
1. Place cooled cake in freezer for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
2. Slice cake into 2 even layers (or don't, if you have two smaller cakes). Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a platter. Spread 1 cup frosting over top. Arrange 1/2 of the blueberries, 1/2 of the blackberries and 1/2 of the strawberries on top of the frosting, pressing lightly to adhere. Top with second cake layer, flat side up again. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake - smoothing to a nice finish. Arrange remaining berries decoratively over top of cake. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature about 1 hour before serving.)
* I would get the clear vanilla if you can - it allows for a whiter, more decadent looking frosting on the end product.