All-American Cake

Americana Cake

L-I-V-I-N….that’s what I attribute my crumb coated absence to as of late. I do apologize, but in the last few months I’ve been juggling work, pastry class (more details to come!), wedding season and your typical summer leisure activities that fill up the calendar this time of year. But I’m back, refreshed and inspired to cook and eat and photograph all things delicious, starting with this festive 4th of July cake.

This time of year my kitchen is buzzing with patriotic dishes like perfectly grilled chicken, blueberry pie and a slew of cookout ready salads. But there’s something so American about this red velvet cake. There are the obvious red, white and blues; but then there’s the recipe itself, thought to have originated in the south and often leaving our foreign friends wondering, “why red?” (This is why!). When topped with some seasonal fruit and classic cream cheese frosting, it becomes the crown jewel of any holiday BBQ.

What All American dishes are you whipping up this 4th of July?

Red Velvet Cake Ingredients

Red velvet is essentially a classic chocolate cake with a few key adjustments: buttermilk, vinegar and, of course, red food coloring. The “velvet” is due to the light, fluffy cake crumb from using cake flour. You can substitute all-purpose flour, but it just wouldn’t be the same!

Sift Cocoa into Flour

Sift unsweetened cocoa powder with the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda.

Beat in Red Food Paste

This is one of the few times I will use food coloring in the kitchen. Red velvet cakes need a lot of food dye to be bright, legit–red. If you don’t use enough, you’ll wind up with fuchsia velvet cake or even worse…coral velvet cake. It’s a sad state of affairs.

You’ll need 1-2 tablespoons of traditional food coloring which is actual two of those small bottles you buy at the supermarket. The red food paste they sell here and here, is a great alternative and requires only 1-2 teaspoons.

Red Velvet Cake Batter

Pour batter into two parchment lined, buttered and floured cake pans.

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients

I tend to keep my cream cheese frosting restrained. Most recipes out there are teeth shattering sweet and this cake already has a lot going on. I typically start with half the amount of powdered sugar and taste as I go along, adding more if needed.

Be sure to have butter and cream cheese at room temperature or your frosting will be chunky and unincorporated.

Summer Berries

Ahhh the jewels of summer. Select firm berries that are not too juicy or crushed to avoid having fruit run all over the cake.

Apply Crumb Coat

I love this tutorial for frosting a cake. My trick is cold, cold, COLD. Always apply frosting to a slightly chilled cake and don’t forget to use a crumb coat!

Americana Cake

Americana Cake

Happy 4th of July!

All-American Cake (Red Velvet Cake)

Makes 1 9-inch layer cake

  • 2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp red food coloring or 1-2 tsp red food paste

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 – 8 oz packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, to taste
  • 1 cup firm blueberries (garnish)
  • 1 cup firm raspberries (garnish)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom 2 9-inch cake pans with parchment rounds. Grease and lightly flour the cake pans, tapping out any excess flour.

For the cake: Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and baking powder in a bowl and set aside. Whisk together the buttermilk, vanilla, vinegar and red food coloring in a small bowl and set aside. Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment (or hand mixer) beat the sugar and eggs on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 4 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time and beat well after each addition. Add the flour mixture in 4 additions, alternating with the buttermilk mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Wait until each addition is fully incorporated before adding the next.

Divide the cake batter between two prepared cake pans. Bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Set aside on cooling racks and allow cakes to completely cool before frosting.

For the frosting: Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment (or hand mixer), beat together butter and cream cheese on high until smooth and fully incorporated, about 5-10 minutes depending on temperature of cream cheese. Beat in vanilla until incorporated. Add  powdered sugar, a little bit at a time.

To assemble, level off each cake using a long serrated knife. This is easier when the cake has been chilled slightly. Spoon a dollop of frosting in the center of the cake stand or parchment paper where you wish to assemble the cake. This prevents the cake from moving around. Place one cake layer, flattest side down, on the cake stand. Spread about 1 cup of frosting on top of that first layer as evenly as possible. Place the second layer on top, and spread a thin layer of frosting along the top and around the sides of the cake as a crumb coat. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before applying the final coat of frosting. Top cake with berries and lightly dust with powdered sugar.

*Adapted from Epicurious

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One Response to All-American Cake

  1. Lauri Candee says:

    Simply beautiful! Happy 4th!

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