Sunday, June 2, 2013

Red Hot Velvet Cake with Cinnamon Buttercream

Don't forget about the giveaway! See previous post for details! Entries must by submitted by June 15!

You know how running is cool these days? Like, really cool? And it's cool to show people you are a runner? Like, with mileage stickers on your car? And to encourage other people to run too? Because running is cool?

Wait, I mean, running is healthy.

Let me just make it clear that I do not have a problem with people who like to run. More power to you. I just don't necessarily love how people can give off the impression that those who don't like to run are somehow inferior to those who do.

Allow me to tell an allegorical dialog:

Me: Oh my gosh, I have been working hard on playing Dvořák's Romance in F Minor for violin. It is so amazing! I love it.

You: Hey, that's cool.

Me: Yes! It is so great. You should try it! You can come over and we can play it together!

You: Um, I don't play the violin.

Me: That's okay! I'll help you! It's always better with a buddy.

You: Thanks, but music's not really my thing.

Me: Oh, but you should! There's so much research that shows the benefit of classical music on your mental, even physical health! You should totally do it! It's hard at first, but soon you'll be playing beautifully!

You: I really don't think so. I played in middle school, but I was terrible, so...

Me: It's never too late! It'll only be harder the older you get! It's so amazing! Dvořák!

You: Thanks, but I'm not going to. Have fun practicing, though!

Me: Okay...if that's really how you feel...I guess...

<end scene>

Doesn't that seem ridiculous? Why would a violinist try to force their hobby on someone who doesn't play, doesn't want to play? Yet somehow this conversation is okay between runners and non-runners. 

I'm sounding kind of snarky. Again, if you love to run, please run! Run like the wind! But allow me to sit around, not running, with no shame, please. I'm just a non-conformist like that. Also, terrible at running.

And I guess that's sort of how I felt about red velvet cake. It has been, like, all the rage, though I wasn't sure why. It's sort of a mild, barely chocolate cake with a lot of artificial color. Never something to get excited about.


I actually did enjoy this cake, despite my previous ambivalence toward it. It was perhaps chocolaty-er than most, and the cinnamon buttercream added a nice, unexpected layer of flavor. The frosting looked a little curdly, for some reason; not sure what I did wrong. But I don't think the flavor was affected. And, though I am by no means great at cake assembly, it came together much better than the Sweet and Salty Cake. So I'm just going to assume I'm getting better and better! 

Red Hot Velvet Cake with Cinnamon Buttercream (printable recipe)

Recipe courtesy of Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. Copied with permission.

For the red hot velvet cake layers:

  • 1/4 c dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp* red gel food coloring
  • 1/4 c boiling water
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into small pieces
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable shortening, at room temperature
  • 1 2/3 c sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 c cake flour
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • 1 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp baking soda

    For the Cinnamon Frosting
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 1 1/2 c milk
  • 1/4 c heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 c (3 sticks) unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • red hots for decoration
Cooking Directions
  1. Make the red hot velvet cake layers: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Dust with flour, and knock out the excess flour.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, food coloring, and boiling water. Set aside to cool.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and shortening until smooth. Scrape down the bowl and add the sugar. Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Stir the buttermilk and vanilla into the cooled cocoa mixture.
  5. Sift the flour and salt together into another medium bowl. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture, alternating with the cocoa mixture, to the egg mixture in three separate additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat until incorporated.
  6. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and baking soda and stir until the baking soda dissolves; the mixture will fizz. Add to the batter and stir until just combined.
  7. Divide the batter among the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake until cake tests done, about 30 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the rack, remove the pans, and let cool completely. Remove the parchment.
  8. Make the cinnamon frosting: In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, about 20 minutes.
  9. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachent. Beat on high speed until cool. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter; beat until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy.
  10. Add the vanilla and cinnamon and continue mixing until combined. If the frosting is too soft, transfer the bowl to the refrigerator to chill slightly, then beat again until it is the proper consistency. If the frosting is too firm, place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and beat with a wooden spoon until it is the proper consistency.
  11. Assemble the cake: Place one cooled cake layer on a serving platter. Trim the top to create a flat surface and evenly spread about a 1 1/4 cups of the frosting on top. Top with the next layer, trim and frost the top, then add the third layer. Crumb coat the cake and put the cake in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to firm up the frosting. Frost the sides and top with the remaining frosting. Garnish the cake with the red hots and refrigerate again for 15 minutes.
*I probably used 1 tsp of Wilton's gel food coloring, and the cake was plenty red. Maybe they meant 2 Tbsp liquid? Use your food coloring with discretion. 


  1. That cakes looks amazing- as always. I thought the red cake was flavored with red hots! But cinnamon icing sounds divine. And I TOTALLY love your running story- I agree. I hate running. I try really hard to love it, but I really don't. I sort of like it. I just wasn't cut out for it. But I'll keep trying I guess- practice makes perfect??

  2. I totally agree about red velvet cake. I'm always expecting something chocolaty and flavorful but it always ends up being what I imagine unflavored cake would be like if such a thing existed. I love the running analogy. Funny thing, I think I kind of got started running because you invited me to do that race with you, ha ha.

  3. @ Melissa: You seem like a great runner to me! You can run way farther than I can.i know; I read your blog!
    @ Melanee: I feel kind of sheepish that I pulled the running card on you! Joke was on me though because I was terrible at the 5K and you were awesome at the 10K. I really am so bad at running.

  4. Red velvet cake is amazingly colourful! Couldn’t take my eye off the pictures!! Now this is something really really delicious!! I loved this recipe.