Here comes a confession – are you ready? Even TRB is intimidated to bake certain sweet treats. Among the most frightening? A beloved favorite: Red Velvet Cake.
While attending the fabulous Bella In You magazine launch party at The Vanderbilt in Staten Island last week, TRB had the amazing good fortune to meet Vincent Buzzetta, a.k.a. The Cake Artist. A television crew was on hand to capture the unveiling of Vinny’s fantastic – and edible! – replica of a red (well, in this case, green) carpet Red Velvet Cake for the celebration, which will be featured in an episode of his new reality show set to debut on the WE network this summer.
Just beyond the cameras and lights, all TRB could see was the yummy, moist, red velvety goodness lining the dessert table. The cake was so delicious, TRB just had to find out how Vinny did it, so that she could not only overcome her fear, but also share his tips with you.
TRB: What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about red velvet cake? Why do they find it intimidating to make at home?
VB: I think a lot of people don’t exactly know what it is, but they are intrigued by the appearance and taste. Red velvet is actually just a mixture of vanilla cake and chocolate cake. Pastry chefs consider it somewhat of a chocolate cake because the traditional recipe calls for a small amount of cocoa powder.
TRB: My hesitancy to bake red velvet cake stems from a fear of splattering red food coloring all over the kitchen. Do you have any tips for working with food coloring?
VB: Don’t be afraid! Use rubber gloves to prevent the food coloring from staining your hands. When you add food coloring to a stand mixer, make sure it is set on low; if mixing by hand, mix it slowly. Another good tip is to buy gel coloring from a baking supply or craft store. Do not use liquid food coloring found in the supermarket. The gel is vivid and will give a beautiful red appearance; liquid is not as bright, and will turn the cake more pink than red. Also, the cocoa powder will tone down the red color, so don’t be afraid to add more!
TRB: Let’s talk frosting… The traditional recipe calls for a cream cheese frosting (my personal favorite), while some bakers use buttercream. What is your preference and why?
VB: As a cake designer, I prefer not to use cream cheese frosting; it’s not stable enough to stack the cake or cover it with fondant. I only use Italian meringue buttercream, which is very stable, delicious and not too sweet. Typically, I pair my red velvet cake with vanilla bean or white chocolate buttercream. But, last year, a bride and groom asked me to make a red velvet cake with my signature (and most famous!) “Oreo” buttercream frosting. It has since become my top seller. I have also paired red velvet cake with salted caramel and chocolate-covered popcorn buttercream. Red velvet cake can be paired with just about any type of buttercream or other frosting. Anything goes!
TRB: Do you think red velvet cake is just a fad or here to stay?
VB: In my experience as a cake designer, red velvet cake is the most popular flavor followed by vanilla. Surprisingly, chocolate is the least popular, even though, it’s my favorite. Red velvet is a big fad right now. It’s hip and chic, and everyone loves the color – when you cut it open, you get a contrast of the red cake against white frosting and it just looks beautiful.
TRB: Will you give us the “holy grail?” Your red velvet cake recipe, of course…
VB: Sure! It’s so simple and so delicious, I promise even you can do it, TRB!
The Cake Artist’s Red Velvet Cake
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cocoa powder
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vinegar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Red food coloring (add as much as desired)
1. Whisk the eggs together, add the food coloring.
2. Add the buttermilk, canola oil, vinegar and vanilla extract, and mix until nicely combined.
3. Add all the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cocoa power, and mix until very smooth.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.
Tip: Use high quality cocoa powder and pure vanilla extract for this recipe. The Cake Artist uses a cocoa powder imported from France; it’s so strong, it actually has a red tint to it. (Incidentally, that’s how Red Velvet Cake got its name! The combination of buttermilk and vinegar with cocoa tends to bring out the “red” in the chocolate).
If you are like TRB and love cream cheese frosting, try this recipe from another favorite chef, Emeril Lagasse:
1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or margarine, softened
1 lb box confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese and butter. Beat in confectioners’ sugar until fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Use to fill and ice cake.
Are you up for the challenge? Will you bake up a Red Velvet Cake? Let us know how it turned out. Post a comment below.
And, don’t forget to look out for the premiere of Vinny’s show, Staten Island Cakes, on the WE Network this summer – you may see TRB chatting with him in the Bella launch party episode!
(Photos in this post courtesy of The Cake Artist, Vincent Buzzetta)