January 10, 2010

Introductions and Red Velvet Cake

Hello, and welcome to my blog: Food for Torte.

I'm the Speeding Turtle, a girl who loves to bake.

I have a very sweet tooth and my favourite things to bake are cookies and cakes.  On this blog I will share with you my love of baking, my different creations, recipes and some tips that might be helpful to you.  Also some pretty pictures.  Please excuse my sometimes shoddy camerawork, I'm still experimenting with flash and angles and all that jazz.

Now, onwards I go to present my first recipe - Red Velvet Cake.

Red Velvet cake is rich, very yummy and...red.  It is just Devil's Food cake, with a whole pile of red food colouring.  Red Velvet is traditionally made with a few layers and white icing so when you cut into the cake it shows layers of red and white.  It was my grandparents' wedding anniversary, so I made a three-layer cake and a whole pile of 'whoopie pies'.  Here's how it goes...

Recipe source: joyofbaking.com

2 1/2 cups (250g) sifted flour
1/2 tsp salt (if using salted butter/margarine, skip this ingredient)
2 tbsp (15g) cocoa powder
1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter/margarine
1 1/2 cups (300g) white sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract/essence
1 cup (240mL) buttermilk
2 tbsp (or more) red food colouring
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees C (350 degrees F)

2. Butter the sides of two 20 cm (8 inch) round cake tins, and line the bottoms with baking paper.  Dab some butter on the bottom of the tins so it's easier for the paper to stick.  To cut out the circle of paper, turn the tin upside down and place some paper over it.  Get a sharp knife and run it around the groove on the bottom of the tin.  (This only works for springform tins!)

3. Sift the flour, salt and cocoa powder together into a bowl and set aside.

4. In an electric mixer or hand mixer, beat the butter until soft.  (I used soft margarine, so I skipped that).  Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy.

5. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Make sure you scrape down the sides of the bowl too.

6. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.

7. In a measuring cup, whisk the buttermilk with the red food colouring.  Make sure it's suitably red; if not, add more colouring.

8. In three additions, add the flour mixture and the buttermilk beginning and ending with the flour with the mixer on low speed. (Flour, buttermilk, flour).  For the first addition of flour, add a bit more than half to reduce the gluten (chewiness) in the cake.

9. In a small bowl or cup, combine the vinegar and bicarb soda.  Allow the mixture to fizz then quickly fold into the cake batter.  I just used the mixer to mix it in - make sure you adequately mix it in to avoid marbling of the batter.  (When I made this before, the cake turned out with some bits darker red than others).

10. Working quickly, divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans and smooth the tops with a spatula or the back of a spoon.  (I was using tiny little pans for a small celebration cake, so I saved a lot of the batter for my whoopie pies).

Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 25 - 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of each cake comes out clean.

11. Cool the cakes in their tins on a wire cooling rack for 10 minutes.  Place a plate or wire rack on top of the cake tin and invert, lifting off the tin.  Alternatively, if you used a springform tin, just undo the latch and remove the sides, then invert the cake onto a rack and peel off the bottom.
Refrigerate the cakes.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 1/2 cups (360mL) heavy whipping cream (optional - use this for a lighter frosting, but it's OK to skip)
227g Mascarpone
227g cream cheese
3/4 tsp vanilla extract/essence
1 cup (115g) icing sugar, sifted if desired

1. In a food processor (or a hand mixer - food processor is much easier) process the cream cheese and mascarpone until smooth.

2. Add the vanilla and icing sugar and process until smooth.

3. If not using cream, add more icing sugar until the frosting is thick enough to spread, then refrigerate.

If using cream:
4. Transfer the cream cheese mixture into a large mixing bowl.

5. Whip the cream with a hand mixer or electric mixer until stiff peaks form.

6. With a spatula, fold a little of the cream into the cream cheese mixture to lighten it.  Then fold in the remaining cream in two stages.  If the frosting isn't thick enough to spread, either add more icing sugar or refrigerate until it firms up.

Assembling the Cake
1. Place the refrigerated cake on a raised wire rack or similar, and with a serrated knife cut each cake in half horizontally.  I start by placing the knife parallel to the table in the middle of the cake, then scoring a line around the cake by turning the rack slowly.  As the rack keeps turning, the cut will gradually get deeper and eventually slice the cake completely in half.

2. You should now have 4 cake layers.  I recommend that when you make your cake, you only use 3 if you did it approximately the same thickness as I did.  I tried 4 layers, but the cake was completely falling over due to slipperyness of frosting and slightly wonky cutting.  Ahem.  Eventually Mum just lifted the three top layers off the bottom layer, and put them on another plate.  It worked after that.

So, with your 3 cake layers (use two bottom halves and one top for the top layer), place one of the layers onto a serving plate.  Spread the top with a layer of chilled frosting.  Place the next layer on top, apply frosting, etc.  Make sure you put a generous amount of frosting between the layers so the cake looks good when cut.  

Then proceed to ice the top and sides of the cake.  Be gentle - the taller and skinnier the cake is, the more it will wobble and slide around.  Being gentle will also help keep little red crumbs out of your nice white icing.  No photos here - too much frenzied activity trying to ice and save the cake from falling over.
Once the cake is iced, pop it in the refrigerator.  Brace the sides with chopsticks or something if required.  (I used table knives.  What, it was like the Leaning Tower of Red Velvet!)
When you wish to serve the cake, remove it from the fridge, cut and serve.

Yum yum yum.

Now, what about that leftover cake batter?  I made whoopie pies - cakey sandwiched biscuit things.  You may want to add some more flour to make the batter less runny for this so they don't spread as much in the oven.
Mum and I put the batter into a piping bag with a round metal tip in it, then squeezed the batter into little rounds.  It doesn't work just to stop squeezing, because cake batter is runny; you have to keep a hand near the tip of the icing bag and bend it up to stop the flow of batter.

Bake the little pies then remove them from the baking sheets to cool on a rack.  Meanwhile choose how many layers you want your whoopies to have - we went with 3 layers.  When they're cool, put them into groups of two or three (according to your decision).  Make sure that each cookie-cake is vaguely the same size as the others in its group.  Cull any extras and oddbods...your stomach can usually help you out there.

Then spread the whoopies with frosting and sandwich them together.  Here's a cross-section for you to examine:

They really are lovely.  When keeping the cake and whoopies, make sure you refrigerate them due to the cream and cream cheese in the frosting.  And the base of the cake that I messed up?  It was yummy too.

Enjoy!  Don't be shy to comment - they are much appreciated.


  1. We are getting hungry just reading your blog - great work Speeding Turtle!

  2. Very professionally presented.
    Are you planning to post the Eclain recipe?

  3. You may consider getting sponsorship displaying product names.
    Very impressive work.

  4. Wow, I've never heard of whoopie pies before, but they look great. Next time I bake a cake, this is going to be the result!! Mmmmm :)