This is an all-time classic, and a firm favourite at my cake shop. Perfect if you want to bake your way into someone’s heart.
Makes one 15cm cake, serving 8 generous slices.
For the red velvet sponge
- 105g butter
- 275g caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ”¨about 1â„2 teaspoon extra-red food colour
- 250g buttermilk
- 2 medium-sized eggs
- 235g plain flour
- 15g cocoa powder
- 2 pinches of salt
- ”¨1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 11â„4 teaspoons white wine vinegar
For the vanilla frosting
- 250g full-fat cream cheese, softened slightly
- 250g unsalted butter, softened
- 625g icing sugar, sifted
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
For the decoration
- red velvet cake crumbs
Make the sponge one day ahead.
TO MAKE THE RED VELVET SPONGE
- Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas mark 3.
- Line three 15cm sandwich tins with oil spray and greaseproof paper.
- Place the butter, caster sugar and vanilla in an electric mixer and, using the paddle, beat at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy.
- Mix the red food colour with the buttermilk, making sure there are no lumps.
- Lightly beat the eggs in a separate bowl or jug and, with the mixer set at medium speed, slowly pour into the butter mixture. If the mixture starts to curdle, add a tablespoon of flour to bring it back together.
- Sift the flour, cocoa powder and salt together and, once the butter, sugar and eggs are combined, add to the mixer with the coloured buttermilk and beat at low speed until just incorporated.
- Whisk together the bicarbonate of soda and vinegar and quickly add to the cake batter.
- Using the rubber spatula, fold through the batter to make sure everything is well combined.
- Transfer the batter to the lined tins and gently spread it towards the edges with a step palette knife.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes. The sponge is cooked when it springs back to the touch and the sides are coming away from the edges of the tin. You could also insert a clean knife into the middle of the sponge; if it is cooked, the knife will come out clean.
- Once the sponges are baked, remove from the oven and leave to rest for about 10 minutes.
- When the sponges are just warm, run a knife all the way round the sides of the tins, transfer to a wire cooling rack and leave to cool completely.
- Once cool, wrap the sponges in cling film and leave them to rest overnight at room temperature. This will ensure that all the moisture is sealed and the sponges firm up to the ideal texture for trimming and layering.
TO MAKE THE VANILLA FROSTING”¨
- Make a cream-cheese frosting following the instructions on page 12, then flavour with the vanilla extract.
- Chill for at least 2 hours, or until set.
TO ASSEMBLE THE CAKE”¨
Trim the sponges (reserving the trimmings for decoration) and sandwich the layers together using the vanilla frosting. See pages 150-51 for trimming and layering tips.
Mask the top and sides of the cake using the remaining vanilla frosting. See pages 152-53 for instructions on how to mask the cake.
- ”¨Preheat the oven to 100°C/gas mark 1â„4.
- Take all the trimmings from the sponges and place them on a lined baking tray.
- Put them in the oven to dry out, until hard.
- Put the cake trimmings in a food processor and whizz until you have a fine crumb.
- Centre the heart cake stencil on the top of the cake, and dust the surface liberally with the red velvet cake crumbs.
- Carefully lift the stencil off the cake to reveal the heart pattern.
- Store the cake in the fridge if not serving immediately. The cake has a shelf life of up to 5 days but tastes best if consumed within 3 days.
- Serve at room temperature.
By Peggy Porschen,
Love Layer Cakes by Peggy Porschen (Quadrille £20) Photography: Georgia Glynn Smith