This cake is a work of art and a labor of love. Even people who "don't like red velvet cake" will marvel at its richness and sweet and savory combinations. I made it first for my niece who had a slice here in Amish Country and requested it as her birthday cake. As I researched recipes, I found the original Waldorf Astoria recipe was luxurious and full of history. You can substitute cooked down beet juice for the food coloring in the recipe, and it will give a more merlot color to the cake, but I like the brighter hue. Try baking it and enjoy the compliments... Dori
Gather all the tools, pans and ingredients for the cake. It seems as though this is a MASSIVE amount of ingredients, and there is a method to my madness. You need to make the cake TWICE for the best results. You can have little skinny layers or three full-size beautiful layers. Don't try to make it all in one shot, you will have a huge mess, especially when you come to the carbonation step.. Just bite the bullet and do it twice.. Put on the TV (Food network, cooking channel.. you know!) relax and bake!
Pans: Two 9" cake pans. Line the bottom with parchment paper. If you have never done this before, just lay out the parchment on the table, sit the pan on it, outline the bottom of the pan with a pen or pencil, and cut it our. Spray the bottom of the pan with a non-stick spray, put the paper in, and spray the pan again on top of the paper. Watch how easy your cake comes out!
Heat your oven to 350 degrees and put a rack in the dead center.
SIFT your pastry flour into a bowl. Take 2 1/2 cups and put back into your sifter with 2 Tablespoons of the cocoa powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sift them together into another bowl and set aside.
CREAM 1/2 cup butter until soft then add 1 1/2 cups sugar. Beat until light and fluffy. It is a big advantage to have a stand mixer with the paddle. Scrape the sides frequently. Beat until light and fluffy.
Add 2 eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition, scraping the sides after each to assure total blending. After the eggs are completely incorporated, add 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, and beat a minute or so longer, then let it rest.
Having fun yet? Wearing your apron? You know you can get a great apron from JustAPinch.. I wear mine all the time and I love it.. :-) (No I don't work for them)
Now, the fun part, call the kids. In a small bowl, wisk 1 cup of the buttermilk with 2 tablespoons of the red food coloring. Put the mixer on low speed and add it alternately to your batter with the flour/cocoa mixture you set aside in about 3 parts. **Begin and end with the flour** Don't overbeat the mix. Then shut it off, knock the excess of your beaters and take the bowl out of the mixer.
Make sure your over is at temperature and your 2 pans are ready to go. Take your spatula and fold the batter over a few time to assure everything is blended well. Here comes the magic. Carbonation.
In a small glass container, combine 1 teaspoon of the white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of the baking soda until dissolved. VERY QUICKLY fold this into the batter until mixed and divide the batter into the two prepared parchement-lined cake pans. Smooth the tops with the spatula. Bake in the 350 degree oven 25-30 minutes until done.. Use the toothpick method to determine doneness. Cool on a wire rack for a few minutes, invert, peel off the parchment and finish cooling. Wrap in plastic and place in the refrigerator.
Repeat the entire process and make two more layers. What?? Yep, you are going to use the best three of them in the cake and one for crumbles as trim and to feed to hungry assistants.
Making the icing and finishing the cake.. About half an hour before you are ready to tackle constructing the cake, take out the cream cheese and the Mascarpone cheese. Don't worry if you have never used this cheese before, it is easy to use and adds an amazing savoriness to offset the sweetness to the cake that gives that wow factor people can't forget. Make sure your whipping cream is VERY cold, and sift (there is that sifter again) the 1 cup of confectioners sugar so there are no lumps or clumps.
Beat together the cheeses until smooth and add the vanilla extract. Slowly add the sugar and continue to beat until completely smooth and flour is incorporated. Scrape often. Change paddle attachment to whisk.
Very gradually, add the heavy whipping cream to the cheeses at high speed using the whisk and whip it until it is a spreading thickness. You may have to play with it a bit adding more cream or sugar to get it just perfect for your likes.
From here, you must move quickly. Start assembling the cake with a smear of frosting to anchor the bottom layer, top side down. Put a layer of frosting, another layer of cake, frosting and the third top side up. Continues to frost the cake until all the icing is used up. Smooth the sides and top.
Now, take the fourth layer, and crumble some pices as garnish around the bottom and top of the cake. Use the berries on the top of the cake, like the picture, they make a delicious bite with the cake to complete the contrast and delicacy.
See how easy that was?
Thanks to Joy of Baking for their recipe to help me out.. Enjoy the cake, and have a Blessed Holiday. Dori