31 Jan Sky-High Red Velvet and Cookie Layer Cake (and some Valentine’s Day talk)
Happy almost-February to you, friends!
February is one of my favourite months because it plays host to my most-loved baking ‘holiday’ of the year – Valentine’s Day! All of the pastel pink gifts, endless chocolates and fancy love-themed candy in the grocery store aisles make me pretty darn excited to get into the kitchen and bake pretty things!
Last year when my bake shop was open, we held a two-day Valentine’s Day event, which we called “Pop-up Cupid”. I invited some wonderful local Vancouver gals (Celsia Florist, Petite Puf and Swany Booth) to set up mini “pop-up” versions of their businesses in my shop and together, we became a fun, yet cozy, destination for all things sweet!
It was quite the frilly and floral couple of days…
…our little event even made the news! That’s my friend Erin (in the polka-dot shirt) doing the talking for me – I’m in the back baking and most-likely covered in flour!
(Big thanks to Tanya of Taffete Designs for decorating!)
Oh what fun it was! These photos make me miss my little shop! (Thank you Christie for the photo!)
This year, we have something equally as sweet planned, and I’m dying to tell you about it, but I can’t just yet. I hate keeping secrets about these kinds of things! What I can say is that if you have a sweet tooth (which is why you’re here reading this, no?) and you happen to be in Vancouver, you’ll be happy, I promise! And if you’re not in Vancouver, you can follow along on Instagram while eating this cake that you just made 😉
Another reason why I love February so much is that it’s the month before my birthday month, which feels extra sprinkly and special this year because I’m turning 30. But we have lots of time to chat about that yet, so in the meantime, let’s talk about this cake!
This red velvet cake is a variation of the one that was on the menu in my shop. The reason I call it “sky-high” is because of how tall it is once it’s iced – almost 7 inches tall! Of course, if you’d prefer a shorter cake, you can pour the batter into three 8-inch round cake pans instead of the four 6-inch round ones that I’ve used here.
I chose to layer the cake with my soft, dark chocolate cookies for a little extra chocolatey kick. The texture of both the cake, cookie and the frosting is, in my opinion, just lovely!
As you make your way through this cake recipe, you’ll probably notice that I’ve decided to use both butter and vegetable oil in my cake layers. While I absolutely love butter’s taste, I sometimes find that it doesn’t lend enough moisture, which is why I added a little bit of vegetable oil to help boost that up a bit.
To compliment the chocolate flavours in this cake, I chose a cream cheese frosting, which is a twist on my Whipped Vanilla Bean Frosting. In my experience, many cream cheese frostings can be kind of difficult to spread on a cake, which makes getting a nice, smooth top edge almost impossible. This one is both spreadable and perfectly sweet, yet still has that tangy taste of cream cheese that I love oh so much.
I kept it pretty simple with the outside design of the cake by using a decorating comb to create a little bit of texture…
and then finished the top edge with a generous helping of pastel sprinkles!
I hope that this cake tickles your tastebuds like it did mine!
Happy baking adventures!
Sky-High Red Velvet and Cookie Layer Cake
You will need:
One batch of Dark Chocolate Cookies, baked and cooled
Red Velvet Cake Layers
- 3 cups cake flour, sifted (345 g) (+ more for dusting the cake pans)
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted (+ more for greasing the cake pans)
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1/4 cup liquid red food colouring
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat your oven to 325° F. Using a pastry brush, apply a small amount of soft or melted butter to the inside and bottom of each cake pan (you’ll be using four 6-inch cake pans for this recipe). Place a little cake flour inside each cake pan and tilt it around, tapping as you go, until the inside of each pan is completely coated in a light dusting of flour. Turn the cake pans upside-down over the sink and tap out the excess flour. Next, cut out four 6-inch parchment paper circles and place on in the bottom of each cake pan. Set aside.
Measure or weigh the cake flour, sift it onto a piece of parchment paper and then pour it into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the cocoa powder, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt, then mix on low speed until well blended.
In a large bowl, place the eggs, buttermilk, vegetable oil, melted butter, sour cream, warm water, red food colouring, vinegar and vanilla extract. Whisk together to combine, then pour them into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Begin mixing on low speed, then turn the mixer up to medium speed and beat for 30 seconds. Stop the mixer, scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl, then beat again on medium speed for an additional 15 seconds.
Pour equal amounts of batter into the prepared cake pans and bake until the cake layers spring back in the middle when pressed lightly with your finger. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in their pans for 20 minutes, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Spreadable Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
- 5 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and the cream cheese on medium speed until well blended, about 30 seconds. With the mixer running on low speed, add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, then add the vanilla extract and mix until the ingredients come together. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Turn the mixer back up to medium speed and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes.
Assembling The Cake
If this is your first time assembling a cake or maybe you’d just like some visual aid, this video I made might be helpful! There are also more tips and tricks for other recipes over on my Videos page.
So, let’s assemble this cake!
Start by roughly chopping up about 5-6 of the dark chocolate cookies you baked earlier. I chop mine into pieces the size of large peas, but you can have larges pieces as well – it’s your choice! Once chopped, set them aside. Put the rest of the cookies in an airtight container – you won’t need them for this cake (they’ll be perfect for snacks later).
Next, place one of the cooled cake layers on a cake turntable and using a serrated knife, slice off the domed top of the cake. Repeat with all cake layers. (Side note: What you do with the cake scraps is up to you. Sometimes I just end up throwing them away, but other times, I place them in a zip-top bag and keep them for snacks later)
Clean off the top of your cake turntable, place a non-slip square or a small non-slip mat onto the surface and the. Place a cake board (I usually use a 7 inch or 8 inch cake board for my 6 inch cakes) in the middle of the cake turntable and spread a little bit of the cream cheese frosting onto it. This will help the bottom cake layer stick and not slide off of the board. Place the bottom cake layer onto the frosting, then use an offset spatula to spread a layer of cream cheese frosting onto it, followed by a generous sprinkling of the chocolate cookie bits. Place the next cake layer on top, press down gently and repeat. Before applying the top cake layer, be sure to turn it upside-down so that the flay, bottom side is facing up. That way, you have a clean, smooth top of your cake!
Next, use the offset spatula to apply a thin layer of frosting all the way around the cake. This is called crumb coating, and the thin layer of frosting it will help seal in any loose crumbs, so that they don’t end up on your final outside layer of icing. Once you’ve applied a thin layer, pop the cake into the fridge for about 30 minutes to firm up the frosting and set the cake.
Once the cake is chilled, it’s time to add the final layer of frosting! Generously apply the remaining frosting to the entire outside of the cake, using the offset spatula to move it around evenly. To get your sides smooth and straight, use a cake scraper to gently scrape the sides of the cake, slowly turning the cake turn table as you do (the video above is helpful for this step). Once you’re happy with the sides, use the offset spatula to straighten out the top edge of the cake by carefully “pulling” or smoothing the excess frosting towards you, and wiping any excess off on the edges of the frosting bowl. When the top of the cake is smooth, you can move on to adding a little texture. I used a decorating comb by gently holding it against the side of the cake and turning the cake turntable in one fluid motion.
Use your favourite sprinkles to decorate the top edge of the cake (I used ones from the bulk food store Bulk Barn). Once you’re happy with your cake, serve and enjoy! If you won’t be eating it until later or will be travelling with it, pop the cake into the fridge. Be sure to allow at least 90 minutes for the cake to come to room temperature before serving it – that way the layers of cake and frosting will be soft and tender.
Best eaten on day 1, but can be eaten the following day as well. Be sure to place left-overs in an airtight container in the fridge.