It isn’t every day that your niece has a birthday. Just one day out of 364 other days. So it’s important to celebrate.
Celebrations are special and so are birthdays. They help us mark the passage of time and milestones that recognize changes in our lives. When you think about it, so many things in our lives are based on our birthday. When we can cast our vote, when we can get behind the wheel of a car, when we can get our first job or plan to retire from a career; all important milestones, all based on our birthday. It seems, that one special day, can make all the difference.
People in our lives make all the difference too. They can impact us in ways that matter. Their personalities can grab us and kindle a flame that wasn’t there before. Sometimes that flame ignites and starts a fire and suddenly we’re better than we were before, because of that one person.
I’ve always believed that it’s important to impact people in positive ways whenever we can. To give in some way, so that someone else can feel good. It doesn’t always come back to you, but often it does. I’ve always believed that the point of giving though, is not expecting something in return. Just giving. People don’t always accept what we give them. Sometimes it isn’t what they wanted or were looking for. But sometimes they do and that’s what makes giving worthwhile. Bringing happiness to someone else. Making them feel special, which in turn, makes us feel special.
That’s what this cake was about. Celebrating. Making a 17-year-old feel special … loved … and blessed. Which in turn, made me feel special, loved and blessed.
I’m feeling doubly blessed this Easter, as I think about all that’s been given to me. I’m excited about celebrating life and hope and promise with my family this weekend. This cake was just the pre-celebration icing on my cake! Whatever you’re celebrating this weekend, I hope it’s special and brings you joy.
This cake may look complicated, but it’s really not. There are just 4 steps: make the cheesecake, bake the cake, whip the frosting and assemble.
I’ve tried several red velvet cake recipes and each had some positives but also some negatives. This one however, is the best by far. It’s got superb flavour and a great crumb and texture. It’s rich, moist and doesn’t taste weird or artificial. It mixes up really easily and the results are divine.
Most red velvet cheesecakes that I’ve seen, have a really thick centre. For this celebration, I felt that I wanted less of a good thing and so I went with half the size most recipes call for. The result lended the perfect amount of taste and texture to make it a delicious combination. This cheesecake had a slightly firm texture that was rich and creamy. What’s the secret to preventing a cheesecake from cracking? Grease the pan and bake it in a hot water bath so that it can move easily while baking, so you won’t want to skip those two steps.
And finally, the frosting … you’ll either love it or … you won’t. Thankfully our family loved it. The dreamy flavour and the whipped creamy texture of this frosting had everyone licking their forks. As strange as it sounds, don’t let the ingredients or the cooking process deter you from experiencing what may well be, your all-time favourite frosting yet.
These 3 separate components; the cake, the cheesecake and the frosting came together to deliver a complete package. A stand out cake that tasted as good as it looked. My husband thought it may have been the best cake I’ve made yet. Now that’s something worth celebrating!
Red Velvet Cheesecake
Makes a rich 9″ cake, 12-14 servings
The steps of this recipe can be completed over a two-day period. The cake and cheesecake layers can easily be made a day ahead of the icing and assembly.
Adapted from: RecipeGirl
One (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
pinch of salt
1/8 cup sour cream
1/8 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Red Velvet Cake:
Cake adapted from: 17 and baking
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white vinegar
Red food colouring, as desired
Cream Cheese Frosting:
Frosting adapted from Tasty Kitchen
5 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup butter
1 cup granulated white sugar
1. Prepare the cheesecake layer: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place a large pan (one that’s larger than your springform pan) on the lower third rack of the oven. Boil some water. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with joystick spray and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper. Place the pan on a double layer of foil and press the foil up and around the bottom of the pan to prevent any water from the water bath from seeping into the pan.
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to mix the cream cheese, blending until it is nice and smooth and creamy. Mix in sugar and salt and blend for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add eggs, one at a time, blending after each addition. Finally, mix in the sour cream, whipping cream and vanilla. Mix until smooth.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Set the springform pan into the shallow pan in the preheated oven. Carefully pour the hot water from the boiling water into the larger pan until it reaches 1 inch up the side of the springform pan. Bake the cheesecake for 30-35 minutes. It should be set to the touch and not jiggly. Remove the cheesecake from the shallow pan and let it cool on a wire rack for at least an hour. When it has cooled, cover with plastic wrap and place the pan into the fridge until firm. This can be done for an hour or overnight.
2. Prepare the cake layer: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two-9 inch round baking pans. In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the eggs, oil, buttermilk, vanilla, vinegar and desired amount of red gel food colouring, I used Americana super red gel food colouring, until well combined. I used 2 squirts (which I think is approximately 10 ml).
Beat on medium-low speed for 1 minute, until blended. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat on high-speed for 2 minutes. Dividing equally, spread the batter evenly into the prepared pans. Bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick or skewer inserted into the centre comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached. Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edges. Invert the cakes onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
3. Prepare the frosting: In a small saucepan, whisk flour into milk and place over low heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens (into a roux). You want it to be very thick, definitely thicker than cake mix, and more like a brownie mix. Remove from heat, add the vanilla extract and let it cool to room temperature. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the top to prevent any dry edges while it cools. If you are in a hurry, place the saucepan over ice in the sink for approximately 10 minutes, until the mixture cools. The roux must be completely cool before you use it in the next step.
While the mixture is cooling, beat the butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until it’s light and creamy. I use my hand mixer for this because my Kitchen Aid can’t reach such a small amount. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl until there are no lumps. Add the sugar and continue beating until its super light and fluffy. You don’t want any sugar graininess at all.
Add the completely cooled milk/flour/vanilla mixture and beat on high-speed until light and fluffy (8-10 minutes or longer if necessary). If the icing looks separated, keep beating until it combines and resembles whipped cream in a soft, creamy and luxurious way.
4. Assemble the cake: Use a cake leveler or serrated knife to level the tops of the red velvet cakes. If the cakes came out of the oven already level, you can skip this step. I’ve found that insulated pan wraps by Wilton work well at preventing cakes from doming. Remove the parchment paper and put one of the layers cut side up, in the centre of a cake or serving plate. Spread a very small amount of frosting on top, just enough to cover the cake in a thin layer.
Remove the cheesecake from the fridge, peel off the plastic wrap and open up the springform pan. With the bottom of the springform pan still attached, gently flip the cheesecake over onto the red velvet cake. With a knife, lift off the bottom of the springform pan and peel off the parchment paper.
If your cheesecake is wider than your red velvet cake, gently saw a knife around the edge and trim the excess. Spread another very thin layer of frosting on the top of the cheesecake. Flip the remaining layer of red velvet cake, cut side down, on top. Peel off the parchment paper.
Using a long, thin spatula, spread about a third of the cream cheese frosting to cover the whole cake with a crumb coat. The crumb coat is a very thin layer of frosting that you spread all around and on top of the cake to catch and seal in all of the crumbs. The idea is that if you catch and trap the crumbs in the first thin layer of frosting, they won’t transfer to the second and final layer of frosting. I tend to cover the top of the cake first and finish with the sides. Refrigerate the cake for 20 minutes to harden the crumb coat, less if you’re confident with the spatula and won’t mix your first and second coats together. When ready, frost the cake with the rest of the cream cheese frosting.
Decorate as desired. For my cake I piped some frosting onto the top of the cake using a pastry bag and a Wilton 2D tip. Apply pressure to the bag until the swirl reaches 1 1/2-inches, twist slightly and pull up. Repeat this 9 times around the cake and top each swirl with a pink chocolate coated easter egg. I finished the cake off with some pink, Party Decoratifs by India Tree called “Pretty Bubbles” and some white Sprinkles by Wilton, purchased from Golda’s Kitchen. Other options for decorating include using shaved chocolate, crushed walnuts or chocolate ganache.
Keep the cake in the fridge. Let it stand at room temperature for about half an hour before serving.
}} This cake has a delicious flavour and a really nice crumb/texture. Adjust the amount of food colouring depending on how light or dark you want the cake to be, adding less for a light shade and more for a darker shade. Usually, the way it appears in the bowl, is the way it will bake up in the pan.
}} The cheesecake recipe can be doubled for a thicker cheesecake centre.
}} This icing gets rave reviews from those who like icing that isn’t overly sweet or sugary. If you eliminate the cream cheese, it’s also a top-notch, delicious icing for chocolate cake.