Over spring break, I perused baking blogs for hours to find a fancy baking project to tackle. I wanted to bake a knock-your-socks-off cake. A little ambitious, maybe, for having never even made a layer cake before. But hey they tell you to dream big for a reason! I settled on this Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake -a layer of red velvet, and then a layer of cheesecake (anything with cheesecake in it is a go in my book), and then another layer of red velvet. The whole thing is smothered in the best cream cheese frosting I’ve ever tasted.
It took me three days (I did it in steps), my kitchen was an absolute mess, and I couldn’t get the red off my hands for the life of me, but it was oh, so worth it. The red velvet crumbled perfectly and the cheesecake was divine! All the recipes I’ve looked at emphasized the importance of a water bath, but I’ve never had a problem with cracking in my cheesecakes when I use a pan of water underneath instead of submerging it completely. Wait till you see the inside of this baby…
My super awesome friend Rachel lent me her Canon T1I for the week, and I was looking forward to having some fun with the DSLR. These are all straight out of the camera, no editing! The pictures turned out so beautiful, it’s like there’s no turning back. I don’t know what I’m going to do when I have to go back to my old point-and- shoot. Seriously.
I would make this cake again in a heartbeat if it wasn’t so darned time-consuming. I made the cheesecake on Thursday night, let it cool overnight, and froze it in the morning. Friday night, I made the two red velvet layers and let them cool overnight. I made the frosting and assembled the cake on Saturday morning.You could probably make the whole thing from start to finish in a day and a half or less, but I promise it will be much less frustrating/stressful if you break up the steps! I ended up serving this at our housewarming party (we recently moved) and it was a hit. If you have the time to spare – make this for your next party or social gathering, you’ll be really popular 🙂
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
RED VELVET CAKE: You can make it from scratch or just use box mix. I would advise mixing up 1.5 boxes because even though box mixes say they make 2 9” rounds, the layers will be extremely thin!
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
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:
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. Arrange oven racks to the middle and lower third of the oven – fill an oven-proof dish (I just used a 9×9 baking pan) with water and place it on the lower rack. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper. (Don’t skip this, it will make your cake come out clean) 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. Bake the cheesecake on the middle rack for 40 minutes. It should be set to the touch and just barely jiggle as a whole unit when tapped. Turn the oven off but leave the cheesecake in to cool down slightly for 5-10 minutes. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack for at least an hour. (I did this overnight) When it has cooled, place the pan into the freezer and let the cheesecake freeze completely (I popped it into the freezer in the morning).
2. Prepare the cake layers: If making from scratch – 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.
If using box mix – follow directions on box for 1.5 boxes of mix (divide all the ingredients in two for the second box)
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. 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. Return to freezer while you prepare the frosting.
4. 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). Note: it is very important that your butter and cream cheese are at room temperature completely, or you will have lumps in your frosting!
5. Frost the cake: Apply a crumb coat layer to the cake- use a long, thin spatula or knife 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). Any crumbs sticking out will be “set” onto the cake. Freeze it for 30 minutes to an hour – however long until the frosting isn’t sticky when you touch it. Start the second layer by adding a large scoop of frosting onto the top of the cake. Spread it evenly across the top and extend it over the sides like a plate. Then pat a generous amount of frosting on the sides – holding the knife/spatula vertically, work your way around the sides until it’s completely covered. The frosting on the top that was extended over the sides should now be standing straight up. Take the spatula/knife horizontally and sweep the extra frosting towards the center of the top to flatten it out. Look at the cake from eye-level to make sure it’s even. Decorate, as desired. I had a hunk of white chocolate from Peru or something that my aunt’s friend gave her, so I microwaved it for a few seconds and used a vegetable peeler to create the shavings on top. Refrigerate until ready to serve!