Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet Cake
Is it 2013 already??  Where did 2012 go?  I know I am not alone in thinking this.  I want to apologize for disappearing for 2012. Since I last posted I have had some very exciting life events take place including finishing my dissertation, graduating, moving, accepting a position that I love, and sadly caring for a very ill dog.  Our house is empty without our Leo.  He was my kitchen buddy, waiting patiently right outside the kitchen at our old house and right by the sliding glass doors at the new house.  When he got sick he chose to lay in front of the stove.  I would usually make him move before he was sick but I realized he just wanted to be as close as possible. Opening the oven door without hitting him while holding a pan became an art.  When we were caring for Leo, there wasn’t much time to cook or bake so my blog was neglected.  The little extra time we did have we chose to spend together since we didn’t know how many more precious moments we would have with our sweet pup.  After Leo passed we were heartbroken, we just never expected our time together would be so short.  Between being heartbroken, settling into a new job that requires considerable travel and a 2-hour round trip commute, I decided to give blogging a break.  Not to be a Debbie Downer, but I wanted to share why I had disappeared.  I know some people have asked where I was or when I would post, and that meant the world to me.  I am excited to get back in the kitchen and I realize it is what I need to mend my broken heart.  So for my readers who came back after a long hiatus, thank you and to those of you who are new, welcome. 
After a long break, I thought I would share one of my favorite recipes.  My Aunt Cathy’s Red Velvet Cake is one of my favorites cakes.  I have had the joy of baking this with my Aunt Cathy for two very special occasions, my high school graduation and my mom’s 60thbirthday.  I still have my old tattered recipe card that my cousin, Stephanie, wrote out when we were kids after I first tasted this cake while visiting in Memphis.  Under “yields” Stephanie wrote out 10 lbs. fat cake.  I still get a good laugh out of that when I look at the recipe.  I made this over the weekend for a belated Valentine’s Day dinner for my sweetie.  So make this for your sweetie, you don’t need a special occasion to make this fabulous cake. 

Our sweet pup, Leo aka Mr. August for the Harford Humane Society 2012 Calendar.  Rest in peace, sweet friend.


Aunt Cathy’s Red Velvet Cake

Yields 2 9-inch cakes or 3 8-inch cakes
1 ½ cups sugar
2 cups vegetable oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vinegar
2 ounces red food coloring
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 Tablespoons cocoa
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 8 ounce package cream cheese (I used 1/3 less fat cream cheese/neufchatel), softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound (box) powdered sugar, sifted
1 cup chopped pecans
Directions for Cake
1.  Preheat oven to 350F
2.  Place a piece of parchment paper in the bottom of 2 9-inch round cake pans or 3 8-inch round cake pans, then grease and flour the pans.
3. Cream sugar and oil, add eggs and beat well.
4.  Add vinegar to sugar mixture and food coloring, beat well.
5.  Sift dry ingredients and add alternatively with buttermilk, starting with flour and ending with flour
6.  Add vanilla and beat well.
7.  Pour batter into pans, evenly and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean, rotating after 20 minutes
8.  When the cakes have finished baking, let them cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans and let cool completely on wire racks. 
Directions for frosting
1.  Cream butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy about 1-2 minutes.
2.  Add vanilla and sifted powdered sugar, beat 2-3 minutes. 
3.  Add nuts to frosting and frost cooled cakes.*
*For these pictures, instead of mixing the nuts into the frosting I sprinkled the chopped pecans between the layers but I prefer the nuts mixed into the frosting.  
Lindsay Lou


Neapolitan Cake

One of my favorite cake blogs is Sweetapolita – Rosie is so amazing and talented with cakes.  There is an endless supply of inspiration on her blog.  When I saw this cake on Sweetapolita’s blog I knew I would have to make it, I just needed to find an excuse.  Although I have to be honest when I ate Neapolitan ice cream as a kid (never a flavor I would have chosen) I skipped the strawberry ice-cream.  Maybe because it had a fake taste to it and I can’t stand fake fruit flavor.  I also saw another one of Sweetapolita’s recipes was her swiss meringue buttercream – it was on her chocolate celebration cake.  I was intrigued by her ruffle technique and wanted to try the Swiss meringue buttercream.  I am so glad I did, it took a bit of time but was totally worth it!  The Swiss meringue frosting is light and not overly sweet.  It pairs perfectly with this cake. This was a perfect cake to celebrate Hoosier Baker Blog’s 1 year anniversary. 
The original recipe makes more cake than you will need for this.  I have included the halved recipes.  Make sure to bake in 9-inch cake pans with 2-inch sides as my vanilla cake spilled over and made a mess in my oven.  I have also found it easier to put cake pans on a cookie sheet so they can be easily rotated and protect the bottom of the stove in case the cake spills over (obviously I need to follow my own advice 😉
I think I prefer my vanilla cake recipe (which I used with the peppermint cake) better and would use it next time with this cake.   Either way though, you can’t go wrong.  

You may want to make this over a couple of days.  I made the cakes one day, let them cool, wrapped them in plastic wrap and then stored them in the refrigerator.  

Neapolitan Cake

Strawberry Jam
Makes about 2 ½ cups of jam
Strawberry Jam Ingredients
1 pound strawberries, fresh or frozen (thaw first)
2 cups sugar
1/8 cup lemon juice
Directions for Strawberry Jam
1.  In a large bowl crush strawberries. 
2.  In a saucepan/pot that can hold at least 4 quarts, mix strawberries, sugar and lemon juice. 
3.  Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar has melted.
4.  Turn the heat up to medium and bring mixture to a boil.  Continue to cook until the temperature has reached 220F on a candy thermometer. 
5.  Remove from heat and let cool until the jam is warm to the touch.
To prepare for the cake glaze:
1.  Using a mesh strainer with small holes and a spoon, strain the jam to separate out the seeds. 
2.  Place the strainer mixture into a clean saucepan and whisk in 1 cup of water.
3.  Bring the mixture to a boil, remove from heat, and let cool.
Strawberry Cake
Ingredients for Strawberry cake
Makes one 9-inch cake
1 cup white sugar
1.5 ounces strawberry gelatin (like JELL-O)
½ cup butter, softened
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 ¼ cup + 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup whole milk, at room temperature
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ cup strawberry puree made from frozen strawberries (about 1 cup or 5 strawberries) and 1 tablespoon white sugar pureed in a blender or food processor. 
Directions for Strawberry cake
1.   Preheat oven to 350F
2.   Prepare one 9-inch round cake pan by spreading a thin layer of butter or shortening on the bottom and sides of the cake pan.  Place a parchment paper circle in the bottom of the pan, spread a thin layer of butter or shortening on the parchment paper then dust the inside of the pan with flour.  
3.   Cream together butter, sugar, and strawberry gelatin (dry) in a large bowl.  Mix until light and fluffy about 1-2 minutes with a stand mixer. 
4.   Add eggs one at a time to the butter mixture, mixing after each addition until blended.
5.   Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl; set aside.
6.   Mix milk and vanilla in separate bowl and set aside.
7.   Alternate adding flour mixture and milk/vanilla to butter mixture; starting with the flour mixture and ending with the flour mixture. 
8.   Mix in strawberry puree and pour mixture in prepared pan. 
9.   Bake for 25-35 minutes on the middle rack, turning after 20 minutes.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. 
10.  Cool cake in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes, remove from the pan carefully and finish cooling on wire rack.
Dark Chocolate Cake
Makes one 9-inch cake
Ingredients for Dark Chocolate Cake
¾ cup + 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup + 2 Tablespoons dark cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg, at room temperature
½ cup strong black coffee, cooled to room temperature
½ cup buttermilk, room temperature
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Directions for Dark Chocolate Cake
1.  Preheat oven to 350F. 
2.  Prepare one 9-inch round cake pan by spreading a thin layer of butter or shortening on the bottom and sides of the cake pan.  Place a parchment paper circle in the bottom of the pan, spread a thin layer of butter or shortening on the parchment paper then dust the inside of the pan with flour.  
3. In a bowl sift flour, dark cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
4. To the flour mixture, add sugar, egg, coffee, buttermilk, vegetable oil, and vanilla. 
5. Mix all ingredients together, if using a stand mixer use the paddle attachment.  Mix for 2 minutes on medium speed, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. 
6.  Pour batter into prepared pan and bake at 350F for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes clean.  Make sure to rotate your pan after baking for 20 minutes. 
7.  Remove cake from the oven and place on a wire rack in the pan to cool for 20 minutes.
8.  Gently remove cake from the pan and the parchment paper.  Let the cake cool on the wire rack until completely cool. 
Vanilla Cake
Makes one 9-inch cake
Ingredients for Vanilla Cake
3 egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature (divided 1/8 cup and ¼ cup + 2 Tablespoons)
1 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/8 cup sifted cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes and at room temperature
Directions for Vanilla Cake
1.  Preheat the oven to 350F.  Prepare one 9-inch round cake pan by spreading a thin layer of butter or shortening on the bottom and sides of the cake pan.  Place a parchment paper circle in the bottom of the pan, spread a thin layer of butter or shortening on the parchment paper then dust the inside of the pan with flour.  
2.  In a bowl mix egg whites, 1/8 cup of milk, and vanilla; set aside.
3.  With a whisk, mix the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a mixer.
4.  Add the butter and remaining ¼ cup + 2 Tablespoons of milk to the flour mixture and mix on low speed, just until combined. 
5.  Increase to medium speed and mix for 1 ½ minutes; scrape the sides of the bowl. 
6.  On medium speed, in three batches add the egg mixture; mixing after each addition (about 20 seconds).
7.  Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake at 350F for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.  Rotate your pan after 20 minutes in the oven.
8.  Remove cake from the oven when done and let cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes in the pan. 
9.  Carefully remove the cake from the pan and the parchment paper from the cake.   Let the cake finish cooling on the rack. 
Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting
Makes about 5 cups of frosting
Ingredients for Swiss Meringue Buttercream
5 large egg whites
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons granulated white sugar
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
Directions for Swiss Meringue Buttercream
1.   Wipe the bowl and utensils you will be using with vinegar or lemon juice to remove grease.
2.   Place the clean bowl of a stand mixer (or other bowl if using a hand mixer) over a pot of simmering water.
3.   Add egg whites and sugar to bowl and whisk constantly until the temperature reaches 160F on a candy thermometer.  Remove from the heat.
4.   Using the whisk attachment on a stand mixer or hand mixer, whip the mixture starting at low speed (for about 1 minute) then increase to medium-high (7 on a stand mixer) until the mixture is cool, thick, and glossy; about 8-10 minutes. 
5.   Using the paddle attachment on medium speed, start adding the butter one piece at a time while continuously mixing.  Continue to mix until all butter has been added and the texture of the buttercream is smooth.  If the mixture starts to look chunky and curdle, continue mixing and it will eventually come together. 
6.   Mix in vanilla and salt. 
You can keep the frosting in the refrigerator for up to one week.  Bring back to room temperature and whip for 5 minutes prior to using.  Frosting can also be frozen up to 6-8 weeks. 
Directions to assemble the cake:
1. Individually wrap the cake layers in plastic wrap and freeze for 30 minutes prior to assembling and frosting.
2.  Torte (cut in half) the chocolate and strawberry layers to make four thin layers. (See Picture) 

3.  Using a round cake board, place a half layer of the chocolate cake down (cut side up). 
4.  Spread about a ¼ cup of fresh strawberry jam on the chocolate layer and then place half of the strawberry layer down (see Picture)

5.  Spread jam on the top of the strawberry layer then place the white cake layer on top of the strawberry. 
6.  Spread jam on the top of the white cake, place the chocolate layer on top, spread jam and repeat with the other strawberry half. 
7.  Spread a thin layer of frosting  (a crumb coat) on the cake and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. 
8.  Frost the cake as desired.  To make the ruffles, I used a Wilton tip #104.  Holding your frosting bag at a 90-degree angle, pointing the wider end of the tip towards the cake move from left to right up the cake.  Continue to do this around the entire cake.   
Strawberry Jam adapted from All Recipes
How to prepare strawberry jam to use as a glaze from: Le Cordon Bleu Complete Cooking Techniques by Jenni Wright and Eric Treuille (1996)
Swiss Meringue Buttercream, ruffle frosting technique, Neapolitan cake recipe and idea from Sweetapolita

Candy Cane Cake

I saw this beautiful Chocolate Candy Cane Cake on one of my favorite food blogs, Annie’s Eats.  I was so inspired and bookmarked it hoping to be able to make it someday.  My opportunity came when one of my very best friends, Sarah, said she would be visiting right after Christmas which also happened to be shortly after a very important birthday for her.  I decided this cake was the perfect inspiration for her birthday cake (after finding out Sarah did indeed like peppermint 😉 Now I realize, Christmas is over, but since I missed posting it then I thought this would be a nice cake for Valentine’s day.  I used Candy Cane Flavored Hershey Kisses (my favorite!)  but since they are only available during Christmas (probably a good thing since I like them so much) you could use any type of Hershey Kisses or use peppermint candies as Annie does on Annie’s Eats for her Chocolate Candy Cane Cake.  I decided to use a white cake and add vanilla bean to it instead of chocolate. I also used my buttercream frosting recipe which came from some trial and error.  After making huge batches of buttercream frosting at the bakery I worked in during high school, I knew what went into the buttercream frosting I just had no idea the amount of ingredients unless I was making gallons of it 😉 

I crushed two boxes of 12 candy canes which was too much (I have been using crushed candy canes for awhile now) so I am not sure how many peppermint candies you would need to fulfill the measurements below.  I used a food processor to crush the candy canes but you could put them in a plastic bag and use a rolling pin or heavy skillet if you don’t have a a food processor. 

Frost and decorate with the peppermint candy right before serving, as Annie warned on Annie’s Eats the peppermint coating will become hard which will mean your cut pieces may not be so pretty 😉 

Candy Cane Cake
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Ingredients For the Cake
4 egg whites, at room temperature (separate egg whites while eggs are cold)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
1 vanilla bean

Ingredients For the Filling/Frosting/Decoration:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
4 tablespoons milk (I used 2%)
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 + 1/8 cup crushed peppermint candies, divided
8 Hershey Kisses, for decoration

Directions for Cake
1. Preheat oven to 350F
2.  Grease and flour two 9-inch or 8-inch cake pans.  I like to also add a piece of parchment paper to the bottom (I trace the cake pan and cut it to size), grease and flour the paper. 
3.  In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
4.  Using a stand or hand mixer, beat butter for 30 seconds then add vanilla, vanilla seeds (cut the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape it using the side of a knife), and sugar, beating until mixed.
5.  Add egg whites to the butter mixture, 1 at a time beating after each egg white.
6.  On a low speed, alternate adding the flour and buttermilk, mixing after each addition. 
7.  Pour the batter into each pan, ensuring the pans are even.  Tap each pan lightly on the counter to get rid of any air bubbles.
8.  Bake cakes for 20-30 minutes (depending on cake pan size).  I start testing the cakes around 20 minutes.  They are done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
9.  Let the cakes cool in the pans on a wire rack for about 5-10 minutes, then turn out and peel off parchment paper (if using).  Let the cakes sit until cooled off.  

Directions for frosting
1.  Cream together shortening and butter using a stand mixer or hand mixer.
2.  Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix (you may want to use a towel around your mixer or add the sugar a little at a time so it doesn’t make a huge mess – I speak from experience).  The frosting will be crumbly.
3.  Add milk, salt and vanilla.  Beat until mixed.
4.  Beat for another 1-2 minutes.
5.  Take 1 cup of frosting and mix 1/8 cup of the crushed peppermint candy in. You will use this to frost between the 2 cake layers.

Directions for assembling
Note: I would assemble and decorate the cake close to when you are serving it.
1.  Spread the cup of frosting with the peppermint candy mixed in on the top of 1 cake (I use a cake spreader and have a cup of hot water nearby to dip the spreader in to make frosting the cake easier). 
2.  Place the other cake layer gently on top of the frosted cake and frost both with the rest of the frosting (reserve about 1 cup for frosting details at the end).
3.  Sprinkle peppermint candy on the top and sides of the cake.  For the sides,  I just took handfuls of the crush candy and pressed them onto the sides to stick.
4.  Finish decorating as desired (with extra peppermint candy, Hershey kisses, etc).

Lindsay Lou

Source: Inspired by Chocolate Candy Cane Cake by Annie’s Eats Cake Originally from Cooks Illustrated

Cake: slightly adapted from White Cake in the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book (12 Edition)
Frosting: Adapted from Baker’s Peak

Snowflakes on the Oats Cake

Matt chose this oatmeal-coconut cake for his birthday. He told my mom about a cake he remembered his grandmother making growing up. My mom thought it sounded familiar and made this cake for his birthday one year which ended up being the cake he remembered. So this year he requested it again 🙂 I wasn’t terribly excited as I didn’t remember it being one of my favorites but it was HIS birthday after all. My mind has changed – this cake is awesome and was a big hit with Matt’s coworkers. My mom had this recipe from my Nanny and I asked my mom to come up with a name besides oatmeal-coconut cake–Thanks Mom!

Cake Ingredients
1 cup quick cook oatmeal
1 1/4 cups boiling water
8 tablespoons butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 beaten eggs
1 1/3 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Cake Instructions – Preheat oven to 350F
1. Combine oatmeal, boiling water, and butter; let stand 20 minutes
2. Add white sugar, brown sugar, and 2 eggs to oatmeal mixture
3. Combine, flour, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, and cinnamon in a bowl.
4. Add flour mixture to oatmeal mixture.
5. Grease and flour 9×13 inch pan, pour mixture into pan and bake for 30 minutes at 350F

Topping Ingredients
8 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
14 ounce bag shredded coconut
1 cup chopped pecans

Topping instructions
1. Mix all ingredients together.
2. Spread on hot cake and put under broiler on the lowest setting for 3-4 minutes (turning after 2 minutes). You want to brown the coconut, be careful it will burn quickly!

Source: Helen Sakkis via the Tampa Tribune

Lindsay Lou