Friday, October 19, 2012

Red Velvet Cheesecake

The first time I made this beauty was February '12 for my mom's birthday. I wanted to make my mom an extra special birthday cake that year, and when I stumbled upon this one on Pinterest, I KNEW it perfect. So when my boyfriend's birthday came around last month, I immediately thought of this cake since it was such a hit last time. It looks difficult, but as long as you plan ahead, any intermediate baker can bake this cake!

Like most baked goods, it is crucial to make sure you cream cheese and unsalted butter are at room temperature -- not half melted, half soft from the microwave. You also need to make sure you plan enough time for the cheesecake and red velvet layers to cook separately, cool, and sit in the fridge/freezer before assembly.

It's also important to wrap you springform pan tightly in a couple of layers of foil wrap, so water from your water bath pan does not seep into your cake. I'll admit, I rushed a little too much with my most recent version and my cheesecake layer was a little wet, yet it was still delicious.

Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups vegetable or canola oil
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup (two 1-ounce bottles) red food coloring
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons white vinegar
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted lightly to remove any lumps
Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Prepare the cheesecake layer: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place a large roasting pan on the lower third rack of the oven. Place a kettle of water on the stove to boil. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper. Wrap a double layer of foil around the bottom and up the sides of the pan (you want to seal it so the water from the water bath doesn't seep into the pan). In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to mix the cream cheese- blend until it is nice and smooth and creamy. Mix in sugar and salt and blend for 2 minutes, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed. Add eggs, one at a time, blending after each addition. Finally, mix in sour cream, whipping cream and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Set the pan into the roasting pan in the pre-heated oven. Carefully pour the hot water from your kettle into the roasting pan (it will fill the pan surrounding the cheesecake). Pour enough water so that there is about an inch of water coming up the foil along the sides of the cheesecake pan. Bake the cheesecake for 45 minutes. It should be set to the touch and not jiggly. Remove the cheesecake from the roasting pan and let it cool on a wire rack for at least an hour. When it has cooled, place the pan into the freezer and let the cheesecake freeze completely. This can be done in several hours- or overnight.
2. Prepare the cake layers: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round metal baking pans (or spray with nonstick baking spray with flour). In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar to the flour mixture. Using an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat for 1 minute, until blended. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pans, dividing equally. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Let cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pans, then invert cakes onto a rack to cool completely.
3. Prepare the frosting: In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat powdered sugar, cream cheese, butter and vanilla until it is smooth and creamy (do not overbeat).
4. Assemble the cake: Place one cake layer into the center of a cake plate or platter. Remove the cheesecake from the freezer, take off the sides of the pan, and slide a knife under the parchment to remove the cheesecake from the pan. Peel off the parchment. Measure your cheesecake layer against the cake layers. If the cheesecake layer turns out to be a slightly larger round than your cake, move it to a cutting board and gently shave off some of the exterior of the cheesecake to get it to the same size as your cake layers. Place the cheesecake layer on top of the first cake layer. Place the 2nd cake layer on top of the cheesecake.
5. Frost the cake: Apply a crumb coat layer to the cake- use a long, thin spatula to cover the cake completely with a thin and even layer of frosting. Be sure to wipe off your spatula each time you are about to dip it back into the bowl to get more frosting (this way you won't be transferring any red crumbs into the bowl of frosting). Don't worry at this point about the crumbs being visible in the frosting on the cake. When your cake has a thin layer of frosting all over it, place it into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to "set" the frosting. Once the first layer of frosting is set, apply the 2nd layer. Start by adding a large scoop of frosting onto the top of the cake. Use a long, thin spatula to spread the frosting evenly across the top and then spread it down the sides of the cake too. Because you applied a crumb-coat layer, you shouldn't have any red crumbs floating around in the final frosting layer. Decorate, as desired. I recommend white chocolate shavings (see *Tips below). Keep this cake refrigerated.

Source: (cake & frosting portions of the recipe from Piece of Cake, inspired by thered velvet cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory and by a version of this cake made by Erin's Food Files )

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ohio State "Block-O" Cake

In June '09 my aunt and a few other family members threw a "happy graduation"/"congrats on getting into medical school" party for my cousin Peter. He received his undergrad from The Ohio State University and was recently accepted to medical school at The Ohio State University, so when I offered to make the cake for the party, I knew it needed to be something Ohio State. So then I turned to Google (one of my favorite things to do online) and started to search for an idea on what kind of OSU cake I would make. What I found was many pictures of non-realistic, amateurish, ugly cakes, none of while I thought were good enough for my cousin Peter. So I decided on my own shape, style, and pattern of cake all together.

To make the Block-O shape I simply just made 2-half sheet cakes and stacked them on top of one another (which homemade butter cream in-between, of course) and cut all 4 corners off. In addition to the butter cream incing in-between the 2 cake layers, I also added a delicious raspberry filling that Peter has mentioned he liked in a previous cake I made. With the colors of icing I kept it very simple and stuck with scarlet, white, and black. It's hard to see from this picture, but I only iced the top of the cake in red; the sides were iced in white. To give the cakes edges a more finished look, I piped simple dots around the bottom and top edges as well as in-between the red and black coloring to give that area a little more definition. For the leaf, pre-dyed green fondant was used. I rolled and it out and cut the buckeye leaf free-hand, making it big enough to add a buckeye "candy" in the center. Audrey was nice enough to let me use one of her beautiful, homemade buckeye's in the center of the leaf so I wouldn't have to make a whole batch myself!

I've also added a few more pictures of the party. As you can see, it was a huge success and we cannot wait to throw an even bigger bash once Peter graduates from med. school. So far he has aced all of his tests, quizzes, and exams, making the rest of us "average folk" look bad. You go Peter!

Aunt Molly and Audrey preparing the delicious spread on the back patio.

The graduate!

My beautiful sister, Emily, and myself

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My First Post...

Hello and welcome to my very first blog!

As you can probably tell from the title, this blog with be focused on cooking, baking, and any other kitchen-related topic. I am so excited to share my favorite recipes, pictures of past works, and ideas for the future. Please feel free to leave your comments if you have tried one of my posted dishes or have a great recipe idea for me to test in the future!

Thanks for visiting!

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