Red velvet is one of those cake flavours that is sort of misunderstood and thus liked and disliked in equal measure. For starters, red velvet cake is a mild chocolate cake, yep. Why the red colour?
The reddish brown hue of cake is traditionally attributed to he reaction between cocoa powder and buttermilk, in our case maziwa mala. This is because cocoa powder is acidic in nature and thus would react with the buttermilk and vinegar resulting in the reddish brown colour. These days for the most part cocoa powder is Dutch processed thus alkalized and thus bakers add some form of food colouring to give the cake its signature red colour. Powder, liquid, gel colouring or even beet juice is used. I personally use powder food colours.
The velvet part refers to the texture of the cake, the use of mala (buttermilk) yields a very tender and light crumb.
For the month of April (birthday month), each week I’ll have a new cake recipe and today I would like to share this simple and delicious red velvet cake recipe. It’s easy to do and doesn’t require any special tools, a hand whisk or even wooden spoon will do just fine. Only elbow grease is needed.
This recipe is one that combines the wet and dry ingredients separately then mixes the two. For my recipe I opted for oil as opposed to butter or margarine so as to yield an extremely moist cake.
I also used mala which in case you don’t have you can make by adding a tablespoon of vinegar to a cup of whole milk. This cake uses baking soda as a leavening agent and hence the need for the additional vinegar in the recipe.
The recipe yields about a kg of cake and when baking I recommend either dividing the batter into three 7 inch round tins or two 8 inch round tins. Alternatively you can bake cupcakes, the batter yields approximately 18 cupcakes. The baking time will differ slightly depending on the size of tin used. For 7 inch tins the cakes will take 28-30 minutes, whereas for the 8 inch tins it will be about 35-40 minutes. The cupcakes take about 15 minutes. One way to test for doneness is to gently press the top of the cake if it springs back it’s done. Alternatively you can insert a wooden skewer or toothpick and if it comes out clean the cake is done.
For the frosting, I opted for cream cheese frosting which pairs beautifully with red velvet cake. Traditionally ermine frosting which was made with flour cooked with butter was used. For the cream cheese, I used my recipe to make. The yields are great for the cost incurred. Though I have to mention, cream cheese frosting can be a bit temperamental and thus isn’t ideal for tall or stacked cakes. Also it’s best to chill the crumb coated cake for about 30 minutes before putting the final coat of frosting.
And that’s how you make a moist and delicious red velvet cake. Slicing into it is such a dream, so velvety and smooth.
Red Velvet Cake
- 225 grams granulated sugar
- 1 cup neutral cooking oil sunflower will do
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 1 cup maziwa mala
- 1 tbsp vinegar
- 300 grams all purpose flour
- 15 grams cocoa powder
- 1 tsp red food colouring
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 225 grams cream cheese softened and at room temperature
- 113 grams unsalted butter softened and at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- pinch of salt
- 500 grams icing sugar
- Pre heat your oven at 180 degrees C
- In a large bowl combine, all purpose flour, cocoa powder, red food colour, baking soda and salt and set aside.
- In another bowl add the sugar and oil, using a whisk combine the two.
- Whisk in the egg, one at a time then add the vanilla essence.
- Add the maziwa mala and the vinegar and combine.
- Mix the dry and wet ingredients until incorporated
- Bake in two lined 8 inch round tins for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting.
Cream cheese frosting
- In a bowl combine the soften cream cheese and unsalted butter, using a whisk or mixer mix until smooth
- Add the vanilla essence and salt.
- Gradually mix in the icing sugar until incorporated.