A few months ago, I made my sister a Red Velvet cake for her graduation. It was so much fun to make for 3 reasons: (1) it is my favorite cake (2) I got to use fondant for the first time and (3) it turned out really good!!!
When my sister turned 12, my family went to NYC to see Mary Poppins on Broadway. Her birthday dinner was at Bobby Flay's, Bar American. When they brought out her birthday cake slice, it was Red Velvet. And it was delicious! We actually were super excited to eat it because we had just seen the Throwdown show of Red Velvet cake against Cake Man Raven. I don't know if this is the reason for her decision, but I will always associate Red Velvet cake with that night!
It took me a while to figure out the recipe I was going to use. I was going to use Cake Man Raven's recipe (from Food Network) but I was looking for a recipe that didn't use that much oil. I baked two sample cakes and had my sister decide which she liked better. The winner was the recipe for Bakerella - which I ended up tweaking a bit to satisfy my health freak side (without telling my sister). The cream cheese frosting is actually a combination of a few recipes but the base is from Alton Brown on Food Network. I used Neufchatel cheese instead of cream cheese because it has less fat, but still has that creamy texture everyone loves.
The cake base is two layers and the dome of the graduation cap is cake, too. I just baked the dome part in an oven proof bowl. The cap part itself is fondant, which was tons of fun to do! The decorations are fondant, as well, but the icing around the cake base is straight up cream cheese frosting dyed blue for her High School colors.
The cake was so moist and rich, but not dense. The frosting was a perfect balance. I really hope that you try this recipe because I guarantee everyone will love it!!!!
Enjoy and happy baking!
Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
(Cake adapted from Bakerella)
2 ½ cups AP flour, sifted
1 ½ cups sugar
1 Tbsp cocoa, heaping
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking soda
2/3 cup canola oil
½ cup applesauce
1 cup buttermilk
1 Tbsp vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
1 oz. + splash red food coloring
Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease and flour two 8 inch cake pans.
Lightly stir eggs in a medium bowl with a wire whisk. Add remaining liquid ingredients and stir together until blended. Set aside.
Place all dry ingredients in the mixing bowl and whisk together. Add the liquids to the dry ingredients and mix on medium-high speed until completely combined.
Pour the batter evenly into the cake pans. To release any air bubbles in the batter, gently tap the pans on the counter a few times. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let them cool in the pans for about 10 minutes and then remove from pans to cool completely before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting (adapted from Alton Brown)
16 oz. Neufchatel cream cheese
3 Tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted (roughly 9 oz)
Sift the confectioners’ sugar and set aside. Cream the butter and cream cheese together until combined, then add the vanilla. Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar a cup at a time – sifting each cup into the mixer – and beat between each addition.