Red Velvet Cake

Rachel's delicious cake has layers of vampy red cake contrasting with snowy white frosting.

Ingredients


  • 150 g butter, softened
  • 300 g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 250 g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 25 g cornflour
  • 2 level tbsp good-quality cocoa powder
  • 250 ml buttermilk
  • red food colouring (use 2 tbsp liquid colour or ½ tsp thick red food paste)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • for the white frosting:
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 250 g caster sugar
  • 50 g golden syrup
  • 0.25 tsp cream of tartar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tblsp water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • two 23cm (9in) diameter sandwich tins, each about 5cm (2in) deep

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350°F/Gas 4). Butter and flour the sides of the cake tins and line the bases with parchment paper.
  2. Cream the butter in a large bowl or in an electric food mixer until soft. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and the egg yolks, one by one, beating well after each addition.
  3. Place the flour, cornflour, baking powder and cocoa powder in a sieve resting on a plate. Measure the buttermilk with the food colouring and mix together. It should be very red, so add more if you need to. Sift one-third of the dry ingredients into the butter and eggs mixture until just combined, then pour in one-third of the buttermilk mixture and mix until just combined.
  4. Continue, combining a third at a time, until both are incorporated. Whisk the egg whites and salt in a large, spotlessly clean bowl until stiffish peaks form. Add one-quarter to the batter and mix. Add the remaining egg whites in three stages, folding them in gently with a large metal spoon until just incorporated, leaving as much air in the egg whites as possible.
  5. In a small bowl, mix the vinegar and bicarbonate of soda until it bubbles up, then gently fold this into the batter. Quickly pour the batter into the two prepared tins and smooth the tops. Bake in the oven for 25–30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean and the cakes feel slightly springy on top. Leave in the tins for 15 minutes, then carefully remove the cakes from the tins, running a table knife or a palette knife slowly around them to loosen them and invert them onto a wire rack to cool.
  6. To make the white frosting, place the egg whites, sugar, golden syrup, salt, cream of tartar and water in a stainless steel or heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. (The base of the bowl should not touch the water.) Bring the water to a steady simmer. With a Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350°F), Gas mark 4. Butter and flour the sides of the cake tins and line the bases with parchment paper.
  7. Cream the butter in a large bowl or in an electric food mixer until soft. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and the egg yolks, one by one, beating well after each addition. Place the flour, cornflour, baking powder and cocoa powder in a sieve resting on a plate. Measure the buttermilk with the food colouring and mix together. It should be very red, so add more if you need to. Sift one-third of the dry ingredients into the butter and eggs mixture until just combined, then pour in one-third of the buttermilk mixture and mix until just combined.
  8. Continue, combining a third at a time, until both are incorporated. Whisk the egg whites and salt in a large, spotlessly clean bowl until stiffish peaks form. Add one-quarter to the batter and mix. Add the remaining egg whites in three stages, folding them in gently with a large metal spoon until just incorporated, leaving as much air in the egg whites as possible. In a small bowl, mix the vinegar and bicarbonate of soda until it bubbles up, then gently fold this into the batter.
  9. Quickly pour the batter into the two prepared tins and smooth the tops. Bake in the oven for 25–30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean and the cakes feel slightly springy on top. Leave in the tins for 15 minutes, then carefully remove the cakes from the tins, running a table knife or a palette knife slowly around them to loosen them and invert them onto a wire rack to cool.
  10. To make the white frosting, place the egg whites, sugar, golden syrup, salt, cream of tartar and water in a stainless steel or heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. (The base of the bowl should not touch the water.) Bring the water to a steady simmer. With a hand-held electric beater or a balloon whisk (to build up your muscles!), whisk the mixture until you have shiny, satiny soft peaks.
  11. Remove the bowl from the simmering water and continue to whisk for a further 2 minutes – it will get a bit stiffer. Whisk in the vanilla extract. Immediately ice the middle, top and sides of the cake with a palette knife, fluffing the frosting up to form little peaks all over the cake. You need to work fast to ice the cake, as the icing sets very quickly. Leave for at least 30 minutes to allow a thin crust to form outside a creamy interior.

Notes:

Rachel's tip: After the cakes have cooled completely and before frosting, cover them loosely with cling film and place them in the freezer for 30 minutes–1 hour. This really helps when it comes to icing delicate crumbly cakes.





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