"On Monday, July 12 we're baking a birthday cake. Put it on your calendar, it's got to be epic!" directed 6x6 over a month ago.
Well alright then! I'm always happy to facilitate baking, even in cases (such as this - 6x6's coworker's birthday) that I don't get to eat the result.
After much deliberation, we settled on a simple yet delicious and slightly special cake: Red Velvet Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache Filling and lots of Cream Cheese Frosting.
Aryan loved it! Apparently no one has ever baked her a cake before so she was super-psyched. And I'm told it turned out delicious. The cake is sweet, the dark chocolate is intense and the cream cheese frosting adds a nice tang.
There was almost a cake disaster in my kitchen. We had a major issue getting them out of the pans (despite the fact that I buttered and floured them), so it might be wise to actually do the parchment paper thing. Luckily I am a cake disaster master (not sure if that's something to be proud of). I patched them up à la the Rainbow Cake, and once the whole situation was doused in dark chocolate ganache and covered in cream cheese frosting, the "problem" was a perfect birthday cake!
Red Velvet Cake (from Alton Brown)
- Nonstick spray
- 5 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour
- 4 ounces cake flour
- 1/2 ounce natural cocoa
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup low-fat buttermilk, room temperature
- 1 fluid ounce red liquid food coloring
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 10 1/2 ounces dark brown sugar
- 4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 whole eggs, room temperature
- Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Spray 2 (9-inch) round pans with nonstick spray, line the bottom of the pan with a parchment paper round, spray the parchment with nonstick spray, and set aside.
- Whisk the flours, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl and set aside. Whisk the buttermilk, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla together in a small bowl and set aside.
- Combine the brown sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and cream on medium speed until lightened in color, 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Return the mixer to medium speed and slowly add the eggs and beat until they are fully incorporated.
- With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in 3 installments, alternating with the buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl between each installment. Mix on low speed until smooth, 30 to 45 seconds.
- Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake until the cake springs back when pressed or reaches an internal temperature of 205 degrees F, 30 to 35 minutes.
- Cool in the pans on a rack for 10 minutes, and then remove the cake from the pans and cool completely, about 1 hour, before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 13 1/2 ounces powdered sugar
- 12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 3 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Pinch kosher salt
Combine the cream cheese and butter on medium speed, just until blended, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla and salt and beat until combined. With the speed on low, add the powdered sugar in 4 batches, beating until smooth between each addition. Refrigerate for 5 to 10 minutes before using.
Dark Chocolate Ganache
(FYI this recipe will make more than you need. You can half it if you’re opposed to extra ganache…but why would you be???)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 10 oz dark, bittersweet, or semi-sweet chocolate (finely chopped)
Bring cream to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl.
Once the cream reaches a simmer, pour cream over chocolate and let stand 1-2 minutes.
Wisk in small circles until a smooth ganache has formed.
Let ganache cool for a couple minutes, so it’s spreadable but not liquid.
- Place first cake layer on a plate or stand. Cover with a layer of ganache and put in the fridge for a couple minutes to solidify.
- Dollop a few spoonfuls’s of frosting on top of the ganache and spread evenly.
- Top with second cake layer.
- Frost the rest of the cake.
- Write Happy Birthday and bring it to work/party/eat it then. You’re all set!