Raspberry Red Velvet Cake

Raspberry Red Velvet Cake

Raspberry Red Velvet Cake

There are some cakes which can only be made for special occasions – this is definitely one of them!  Rich, decadent and just a little bit over the top, this is birthday cake with attitude.  Red Velvet Cake has a long and in some cases dubious history in America, yet the quintessential flavour has always been somewhere between chocolate and vanilla – with the Velvet referring to nothing more than the silky smooth texture of the cake crumb... but just why is it red?  The history of this cake (circa Victorian Era New York) points to the use of unrefined cocoa combined with baking soda and vinegar to get a deep russet red cake with a light and airy crumb.  Although that sounds all very good and romantic 'red' does not have that much flavour and I would much prefer to make a cake that not only looks beautiful (think crimson alizarin oil paint) but has a discernable flavour. 

Raspberry Red Velvet Cake

For this recipe I have fused a stripped down, less sweet version of the original recipe with a few more modern ingredients to enhance the flavour, not just the appearance.   In the cake pictured I used freeze-dried raspberry powder and organic-based food dyes to achieve the colour, if you really want red, just use food colouring, if the idea is a bit off-putting, just bake it without the colouring for a natural mauvey/pink hue.  I also love vanilla, so there is a generous portion of vanilla in this cake to give it it's musky sweetness.

1 ¼ cups butterRaspberry Red Velvet Cake
2 cups caster sugar plus 2 tablespoons
3 whole eggs plus 1 egg white
3 teaspoons vanilla extract (or the seeds of 1 ½ vanilla beans)
1 teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups buttermilk
1 cup puréed raspberries, sieved (about 1 ½ cups whole raspberries)
3 tablespoons pure cocoa powder
3 tablespoons Chambord Raspberry liqueur (optional but fabulous)
3 ½ cups self raising flour
1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar
1 teaspoon baking powder
Red food colouring – colour to the colour you prefer, 3 tablespoons of natural colouring gives a deep red

Pre-heat oven to 175°C

Cream the butter and sugar with the vanilla until very pale white and very fluffy.
In a separate bowl or food processor/mixer add the salt and the additional 2 tablespoons of sugar to the eggs and whip until they are thick, pale and fluffy.
Add the eggs to the butter and sugar mix, then add the cocoa.

To make the raspberry purée take 1 ½ cups of whole, ripe raspberries (frozen is fine) and blitz with a blender until they are totally smooth.  Pass the raspberry purée through a fine sieve, ensuring there are no seeds in the purée.  Once smooth, add the buttermilk to the raspberries and mix well.
Add the purée to the cake mix, then fold in the flour.  Once the flour is combined, add the food colouring ensuring it is mixed through evenly.


Lastly, in a small bowl add the baking powder to the vinegar and mix before adding to the cake mix and stirring well.
Allow the batter to stand for about 10 minutes, then divide evenly between two lined and greased 20cm high sided cake tins.
Bake for around 40 minutes, or until a skewer can be removed cleanly.
Place the cakes on a wire rack to cool completely before attempting to decorate – in fact this cake keeps incredibly well as it is so moist, so it can be refrigerated overnight in a sealed container before decorating the next day.

To decorate:
Trim down each cake to remove any uneven surfaces, then cut each cake in two. 

Fill with two layers of whipped cream and one central layer of White Chocolate Cheesecake Icing.

For the icing:
There is some debate about the "correct" icing for a Red Velvet cake.  In my view, make whichever icing is going to make you smile the most and please as many of your family as possible.  For the record, the cakes pictured are iced with white chocolate cheesecake icing.... but next time I think I may try old fashioned butter icing as the cheesecake icing is very rich!
For these cakes I used a very pale opalescent food colouring powder (edible glitter) which made the red of the cake look even more ruby-like, I then topped it with tiny pearl-white and opalescent snowflakes.  This is entirely over the top and unnecessary, but I was in the mood.

White Chocolate Cheesecake Icing
300 grams cream cheese (low-fat is fine)
½ cup white chocolate
2 tablespoons butter
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
2 cups icing sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla or raspberry liqueur (optional)

In a heat proof bowl, warm the butter and white chocolate to melting point. 
In a separate bowl or in a food processor/mixer, add the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and liqueur and begin beating.
Once the butter and white chocolate has melted, pour over the cream cheese mix and whip on high speed until entirely lump free.
If desired, this icing can be tinted any colour you like!
Once completely smooth, chill to firm up the mix before spreading on your cake with a palette knife.  For smooth results do a 'crumb coat' or rough under coat then chill the cake, before adding a second layer of  icing as the top coat for decorating.

Raspberry Red Velvet CakeServe with additional raspberry couli made from a cup of puréed raspberries, a tablespoon of raspberry liqueur or vanilla extract, a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of raspberry vinegar to knock back the sweetness.

There is also a Blueberry Velvet Cake recipe here on thecookingbug.com just as rich and delicious, made with blueberries!