Before I get on a semi-serious tone on this post, I want to clear out a few things about my baking and photography experience with this Naked Red Velvet Cake.
Baking this cake has always been a pain, but in the end, ITS SO WORTH IT. The first time when I baked it (Exactly 4 years ago and exactly around the same time), I baked the cake with salt. Undeterred, I mixed the batter, greased and dusted the pans all over again and baked the tastiest two layered Red Velvet Cake frosted with Mascarpone cheese frosting.
And, history repeated itself this time around. The cake turned out to be perfect – spongy and melt-in-your-mouth good. Perfectly dense layers of deep Red Velvet Cake. They popped effortlessly out of the pan. However, I had to bake the whole cake all over again, with frosting and all, because, the pics didn’t turn out to be satisfactory. My family thought I was crazy to keep trying… but it was worth it. I can’t put the pictures of a cake on my post if visually they don’t please me.
If someone doesn’t get to taste what I baked, at least the pictures should be a visual treat.
Third thing, I was debating what to call this cake. Really didn’t want to just call it a Red Velvet Cake, I mean there are like thousand Red Velvet Cakes out there. I wanted to call it something special, a little bit unique. I was torn between – The Naked Red Velvet Cake and The Old Fashioned Red Velvet Cake. Both seemed appropriate since, it’s not only a naked cake (Not by choice and you should keep your cakes naked too, if you got amazing frosting skills as mine), it’s also an Old Fashioned Cake as in, it’s neither vegan, nor dairy free or eggless. :D, or, photogenic (I had to put the photogenic bit in here, because, it was a pain to photograph this cake)
Well, finally I decided to call it The Naked Red Velvet Cake.
When I was buying the ingredients for this cake, I picked up a bouquet of flowers spontaneously. On the checkout lane, the cashier from WholeFoods asked, if there is something special.
Yes, the special part was, I wanted to satisfy a selfish need of baking this rich and over the top cake in August and additionally, I was going to treat myself with some flowers too. And, why not?
I think we should all do little things that make us happy from inside, make our hearts sing and fill our eyes with that twinkle. We all should, nurture a selfish need or a harmless secret and once in awhile, do things that make us and only us happy. Go back to those memories once in awhile – memories of those moments, when you felt the blood rush to your cheeks or when you got caught off guard by a genuine gesture. Bring back that rush of blood to your cheeks and get happy.
We are always running – deadlines at work, never-ending kid activities, unavoidable family commitments and everything needs to be done on time and perfectly. So, where is the time to pause and day dream?
I took a solo trip to NYC. I love to travel, see and explore new things. I have seen a lot of places, however, that trip has to be THE most memorable trip so far. Not because, NYC is the best thing that I have ever seen (Paris beats NYC by miles), but because, I was on my own for two days (Thanks to my friend Suma who hosted me) but I was on my own exploring the width and breadth of Manhattan on my feet – tirelessly. I was in a trance and everything felt beautiful and looked beautiful – from the coffee place in Lexington Ave to the night walks.
Do something just for yourself – take a trip, buy that pair of shoes, drink a bottle of wine alone, run in the rain…whatever that makes your heart sing. If nothing works, bake a Naked Red Velvet Cake. You don’t have to have awesome baking skills to bake that perfect cake. You will fail may be, but so what? You will get it right the second time. I did.
This is a simple two-layer cake that comes together without much effort. That’s all! The cake is really light, moist and sponge-like. Be a little careful as they start to break if not handled carefully. Biting into the cake is a sheer pleasure as it just melts in your mouth.
I baked the whole cake for the second time to take better pictures. These pics are taken around 6 am Monday morning. Did not want to not take advantage of that golden hour sunlight. I had to be very careful with my lighting and composition. This was my first experiment with dark photography and even though I’m not 100% satisfied with the outcome, but I’m not disappointed either.
I choose to make a delicious mascarpone frosting to go with! I just LOVE the combination of red velvet and mascarpone cheese. I could have topped my cake with strawberries, but I decided to go with the champagne grapes. The contrast looked heavenly to me.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 and 1/2 TSP baking soda
- 1 and 1/2 TSP baking powder
- 1 and 1/2 TSP salt
- 3 TBSP unsweetened, cocoa powder
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 and 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 3 eggs
- 1 and 1/2 cup buttermilk (See below for tips on making your own buttermilk)
- 3 TSP vanilla extract
- 2 oz. red food coloring. Use a very good quality.
- 2 TSP white distilled vinegar
- 1 cup plain hot coffee, prepared
FOR THE FROSTING:
Use my Easy Mascarpone Cream Cheese Frosting recipe
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- Grease and flour 2 9-inch round cake pans.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder, and salt.
- In a large bowl, combine the sugar and vegetable oil.
- Mix in the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and red food coloring until combined.
- Stir in the coffee and white vinegar.
- Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients a little at a time, mixing after each addition, just until combined.
- Pour the batter evenly into each pan.
- Bake in the middle rack for 30-40 minutes. Do not over bake as the cake will continue to cook as it cools.
- Gently remove the cakes from the pan and let them cool down.
- Refrigerate the cakes for couple hours.
- Combine the cream cheese and mascarpone cheese in the bowl. Beat them up until it’s creamy and smooth.
- Add the sifted sugar and blend into the cheeses
- Gradually add the COLD heavy whipping cream. Turn the speed up to medium and whisk just until the frosting comes together and is spreadable. Do not over-whip!
- Put the whole bowl of frosting in the fridge or freezer for about 30 minutes to firm up a bit before frosting the cake.
- You can make your own buttermilk by adding 1 tablespoon of white distilled vinegar, cider vinegar, or lemon juice to 1 cup (240 ml) of milk. Let this mixture stand 5 to 10 minutes before using.
- Once the Red Velvet Cake layers have been baked and cooled, place the cake layers in the refrigerator (for several hours) before frosting. This extra step makes the spreading of the frosting a much easier task as a freshly baked cake is quite fragile and when you try to spread the frosting there is a tendency for the cake to tear.
- If you cannot find Mascarpone just use regular cream cheese instead, which means using 16 ounces of cream cheese altogether.