Thursday, August 13, 2009

Purple (well...brown) Velvet Cake.

birthday girl.

Today is my lovely sisters 15th birthday. I can’t believe she’s driving. It seems like just yesterday we were yelling at each other in the back seat of the car. She’s become this awesome bluegrass loving, mandolin playing, Jesus following young woman. She rocks.

birthday cake

And how else could I celebrate but to make her a cake? She requested her favorite, Red Velvet. Since red velvet is essentially just chocolate cake dyed bright red, I thought it would be more fun to dye it purple. Sadly, it came out more brown, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

3 layers?!

This is definitely the best recipe for red velvet I’ve found, it’s a little more chocolate-y
than most, super moist and slightly tangy. Plus, the cream cheese frosting was delicious, and I don’t even like it normally.

little birdie topper

To top it off I used this little birdie, he was once a christmas ornament. It’s so Sarah.

Happy Birthday baby sister, I hope you liked your cake!

let's pretend I can actually frost cakes! haha.

Red Velvet Cake
Adapted from “The Confetti Cakes Cookbook” by Elisa Strauss via Smitten Kitchen.

Yield: 3 cake layers

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups canola oil
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) red food coloring or 1 teaspoon red gel food coloring dissolved in 6 tablespoons of water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place teaspoon of butter in each of 3 round 9-inch layer cake pans and place pans in oven for a few minutes until butter melts. Remove pans from oven, brush interior bottom and sides of each with butter and line bottoms with parchment.

2. Whisk cake flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl.

3. Place oil and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until well-blended. Beat in eggs one at a time. With machine on low, very slowly add red food coloring. (Take care: it may splash.) Add vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches. Scrape down bowl and beat just long enough to combine.

4. Place baking soda in a small dish, stir in vinegar and add to batter with machine running. Beat for 10 seconds.

5. Divide batter among pans, place in oven and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pans 20 minutes. Then remove from pans, flip layers over and peel off parchment. Cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 6 cups

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter room temperature
3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl. With a handheld electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low speed to combine. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.

Oh, for those interested, I did get a new lens! I upgraded from the 50mm 1.8 to the 50mm 1.4. So far I love it! You can see the shots I've taken so far with it at my flickr.


  1. I love your approach to frosting. I try to get it all perfect and it ends up looking stupid. Yours looks more nonchalant.

  2. Happy 15th Birthday to your sister!

    You did a great job on the cake! It looks beautiful!

  3. The cake looks beautiful and delicious! The ornament is such a cute touch!

  4. Beautiful...your sister, AND the cake, too! :))

    I don't know much about camera lenses, but I definitely can say your photography skills are great!

  5. I think brown works. It's lovely! What a sweet sister you are!

  6. Happy Birthday to your sister!!! :) Beautiful cake you made for her!! brown or not!! ;)

  7. Happy Birthday Sarah!!
    You both sound like you are good friends as well. How nice is that!

  8. I could hug you, I'm so happy about that last picture of the frosted cake. We can be frosting friends because I have the same struggles. Your cake, though, looks SO DELICIOUS. Happy birthday, Hannah's sister! Looks like it has been good.

  9. Gorgeous cake and happy birthday to your sister. She must have loved this. I must tell you, my parents had a pair of white porcelain birds on their wedding cake - every time I see such figures as decoration, it makes me grin like crazy.

  10. Happy birthday! That looks like a GREAT cake! The frosting doesn't HAVE to be perfect, it looks all nice and home-made! :D Glad you got a new lens, I look forward to lots of nice pictures!!

  11. Oh, oh oh!!! IT LOOKS SO YUMMY!

    I will make you a promise - you come out to Pittsburgh to visit me and I PROMISE to teach you how to frost cakes.

    Oh, oh, PLEASE come visit me! I will make Silas make biscotti! (He claims to be the best biscotti baker ever. The three of us could have a biscotti bake off!)

  12. I love this recipe too! I found it a year or so ago and have made it numerous times. Frosting cakes are really difficult. I cannot lie and say that all my cakes come out perfectly smooth or wonderfully pretty. But it's the taste that matters!!

  13. ALSO since Silas hates cilantro too, I promise not to make anything with the said ingredient in it :)

  14. you're photographs are ever so wonderful! lovely blog, and lovely food no doubt!

  15. I'd take "a little more chocolate-y," any day. And the bird? Adorable. It makes the cake. Beautiful photos!!


  16. i, too, thought that elise's red velvet could be modified and attempted "blue velvet" for a psu game.

    it looked a little sick, but tasted fantastic.

    =) good job!

  17. If I were your sister, I couldn't ask for a finer cake! Wonderful post.



  18. Happy Birthday. You are both awesome girls.

  19. so glad to have you back! cakes are much better when they're not perfect, love it

  20. i love photos! yours blog very very very beatiful :)
    purple velvet cake looks yummy ;)

  21. You and your sister are both beautiful!!! I hope she enjoyed her birthday and gorgeous birthday cake!

  22. Although I really love your cake and am such a foodie. I have to say my favorite pic here is the one of you smiling. Very sweet! Very nice to make a cake for your sister too.

  23. well I love the frosting. it's so rustic and truly gives off the homemade vibe--which is the type of cake that tastes best.

  24. Your photographs are wonderful! The cake looks absolutely delicious - your sister is lucky!

  25. Yes, it's the thought that counts! I liked your idea of dying it purple, though! I think there's a little too much cocoa in that recipe for the purple to show through. But very sweet of you to give it a go! I'm sure your sister loved it!

  26. Happy late b-day to your sis! Whenever I make our red velvet cupcakes at work, it's hard to hide the fact that I lick the bowl on the way to the sink... the red tongue is a dead giveaway! Haha ;)

  27. You girls are so beautiful & talented. You reaffirm my faith in today's society. A friend of mine & I were talking tonight about this topic, so I'll share a bit of our converstaion with you. (You'll probably think I'm weird but here it goes anyway.) The world will tell you you are not worthy, something is wrong with you, you are less of a person, that you are weird, but as Christians we are called to be "a strange people." I'm not sure why I shared that but there it is. Keep the faith, you lovely girls, & don't let the enemy convince you otherwise. :)

  28. I love it! I love the frosting job and how it reveals the cake in some spots. Must have been a great birthday :)

  29. what! i love this frosted cake! if you wouldn't have said anything i would have thought you meant to do it that way.

  30. Lovely cake. I love how you topped it with the little bird--the perfect touch. Happy b-day to your sister!

  31. Hey Hannah, you have some beautiful photos as well! I'm a sucker for baking and photography - what a good pair :) That cake looks SOOO GOOD!

  32. Congrats on the new lens! And I think a purple velvet cakes would be much better than a red one (can you tell I'm a fan of purple?). It's sorta purplish brown right? :)

  33. I just tried to do a purple velvet cake and it also came out brown for me... I feel like such a failure but it was simply an experiment.. I WILL make it purple next time.. I'm sure it has lots to do with the amount of cocoa powder in the recipe

  34. I am getting expertise all the time by reading such pleasurable posts.
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  35. I made your cake recipe and frosting...linked to your blog. Thanks for the fun recipe!

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