Red (wine) velvet cake

What if I told you there exists a velvet cake where the red comes not from food coloring but from the passionate, 350 degree chemistry between cocoa and red wine?

Could there be anything more romantic?  Could there be anything more perfect for your valentine (especially if your valentine is you)?

Read on, and I will show you the way.

The red (wine) velvet cake is Stella Parks’ (of Bravetart) take on taking on the ridiculous amount of red dye that’s in contemporary red velvet cake.   According to Ms. Parks, food science is the key here.  Raw cocoa powder comes together with red wine in an explosion of anthocyanins creating the the red in red velvet a little more naturally.  And really, can you think of a situation where 3 ounces of food coloring is a better idea than 12 ounces of a dry red wine and half a cup of cocoa powder?  I know you can’t because it doesn’t exist.

Truth time.  I didn’t use raw cocoa.  I used normal, old valhrona.  Did it make my cake less red?  Probably.

But, it wasn’t supposed to be the bright red of what we think of as red velvet in today’s terms.  Even with roasted cocoa, the red wine gave this rich chocolatey cake very pretty hennaed highlights.

Now we all know caked decorating isn’t really my jam, but I couldn’t resist dressing her up a little for Valentines Day, what with the chemical reactions and the chocolate and the wine.

I used my favorite cream cheese frosting recipe (listed below), and, unable to resist the food coloring siren completely, had a little fun with pink.

From a flavor perspective, this cake doesn’t taste like what we’ve come to know as red velvet.  When you compare ingredient lists, it shouldn’t.  Starting with the red wine and much more cocoa than my red velvet cake recipe, this red velvet also has just a hint of cinnamon. It is rich, decadent and special.

And before you ask, it doesn’t taste like win.  That’s what the other 13 ounces left in your bottle of wine are for.

Happy Valentine’s Day friends.

A note here on the recipe versus the pictures.  This recipe makes A LOT of cake.  As written, it makes 3, nine inch layers at about two and a half inches high.  For the pictures, I made two very thick six inch cakes (which I split to make four layers) and one normal nine inch layer.  That nine-inch layer is going to guest star with some ice cream and a little chemistry of it’s own in a couple of posts.  But, my point is that I think you could half the recipe and get a very respectable double layer eight or nine inch cake.

Red (Wine) Velvet Cake

Stella Parks, in Bravetart, Conic American Desserts

Makes 3X8″ cakes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 C (12 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 C (2 1/4 ounces) raw cocoa powder (I didn’t have raw, it was fine)
  • 3 1/2 sticks (14 ounces) unsalted butter, soft but cool
  • 2 C gently packed (16 ounces), light/golden brown sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 TBS (1 ounce) vanilla
  • 6 large eggs at room temp
  • 1 1/2 C (12 ounces) dry red wine
  • Batch of cream cheese frosting

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line three 8″ round baking pans and grease with pan spray or butter and flour.
  2. Sift together flour and cocoa, Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer (or hand mixer), combine butter, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and vanilla.  Mix on low speed to moisten and then increase to medium and cream until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes (pause to scrape down bowl along the way).
  4. With he mixer running, add the eggs one at a time, incorporating each egg before adding the next.
  5. Reduce speed to low and sprinkle in one-third of the flour-cocoa mixture, incorporate and follow with one-third of the wine.  Repeat, allowing each addition to be just barely incorporated before adding the next.  After last addition, remove bowl from stand and fold batter using spatula to make sure batter is evenly mixed.  Divide evenly among the cake pans (about 22 ounces each).
  6. Bake until the cakes are domed and firm when gently pressed and an inserted toothpick comes out with a few crumbs still attached.  Cool completely.
  7. Remove from pans.  Level and frost as desired.

 

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