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My red velvet heartbreaker – TAKE ONE

September 15, 2011

This cake broke my heart a little – yes, it’s that dramatic. But then this is a dramatic sort of cake. From its intense red colour, to the rich chocolate taste and silky smooth cream cheese frosting – what a character. Think of the feisty, vivacious and stunning Scarlett O’Hara – wasn’t she a little heartbreaker?

This cake, the red velvet, is definitely a Scarlett.

The recipe is from Bea Vo’s cookbook Tea with Bea. Bea is the chef proprietor of Bea’s of Bloomsbury where I’ve had, hands down the best red velvet cake this side of the Atlantic Ocean. I’ve also been for afternoon tea a couple of times and even a baking class – yes I love the cakes there that much.

Flipping through the pages of this beautiful cookbook, I am already head over heels in love with the recipes. As Bea writes, the book is meant to serve two purposes: one, to provide a more thorough understanding of basic pastry techniques, and two, to allow readers to replicate their famous afternoon tea style for ourselves.

Whilst the cake had all the characteristics of a Scarlett, I must confess I failed to do justice to Bea’s recipe. You will see from the photos that I ended up with only two layers of cake instead of the three in the recipe. Despite checking to make sure my cake was cooked and putting it back into the oven for a further 10 minutes when it wasn’t, the very middle bit was still just a little undercooked. The result of this is a cake that collapsed in the middle after cooling.

However, it tasted absolutely delicious and the icing truly is the ultimate cream cheese frosting. Plus, there was very little food colouring used for the cake – I’m not a big fan of food colouring and am generally put off when recipes call for 40ml or more of the stuff.

Having chatted to Bea over Twitter, she reckons I took the cake out of the oven a tad too early. She’s also given me a few extra tips. I want to get this cake perfect in every way and will readjust mixing and baking times, and make it again. This post will be updated with Bea’s recipe, my learning points, and hopefully a perfect cake soon, because unlike Rhett Butler, I DO give a damn.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. September 15, 2011 10:24 AM

    It looks pretty good to me! Sometimes when things don’t turn out how you planned, they take you somewhere else….. (another cake maybe?) but this one looks good enough for me to come round for a cup of tea anytime!

    • September 15, 2011 10:34 AM

      Thanks so much Angela. The blurry photo hides the sunken bit in the middle of the cake 😛 and you’re definitely welcome for tea anytime… with a perfect cake hopefully!

  2. Hedda permalink
    September 15, 2011 10:25 AM

    That Looks Fantastic! I am off sugar right now… but my husband’s Birthday is coming up and this is his favorite. Maybe I should try this recipe. Other then the bake time – any other secrets to making the Perfect Red Velvet?


    • September 15, 2011 10:33 AM

      Thanks Hedda. Bea’s said to use a deep cake pan so the cake has enough ‘wall’ to climb when baking. Hopefully I’ll have time to give it another go in the next couple of weeks and share the recipe then. It really tastes fantastic.

  3. September 15, 2011 10:50 AM

    Hi Christine! I adore this cake too…sadly customers are very suspicious of it, I find. ‘What makes it red??’ – not very cosmopolitan in these here parts! I will keep making it ‘just for us’ though! Hope you’re having a great week & good luck with your next try – look forward to seeing the results! xo

    • September 15, 2011 4:12 PM

      Thanks Rachel 🙂 I myself had doubts about the red velvet when I first encountered it but totally won over after tasting the ones from Beas. Hopefully my next attempt will make the grade.

  4. September 15, 2011 3:40 PM

    One man’s sunken middle is another man’s extra icing. Can’t wait for the recipe and the extra tips.

  5. September 18, 2011 1:24 AM

    It looks delicious and I would love a slice! ….RaeDi

  6. September 18, 2011 11:25 AM

    looks super yumm…can I have the recipe pretty pls! xoxo

  7. Renee permalink
    September 25, 2011 3:48 AM

    I’ve always loved red velvet from my first encounter at Hummingbird bakery. Tried to bake cupcakes once but was so put off by the amount of coloring that went in, I never tried again 😦

    I’ve read that beetroot is an alternative coloring – is that what Bea has used in her recipie?

    Your ‘failed’ attempt is still a success – it got us all drooling 🙂

    Can’t wait for the recipe!

    • September 25, 2011 11:44 AM

      The Humminbird Bakery recipe uses 40ml (about 8 tsp!!!) red food colouring liquid but Bea’s uses 3/4 tsp red food colouring paste, hence this is a recipe I really want to get right and share with everyone. I got my red paste from Phoon Huat when I was in SG last year, and the colour came out a lovely deep red which is perfect for me. Personally I’m not a big fan of beetroot but if I find a recipe which gives me the consistency of this cake using beetroot, I’m willing to give it a go too!

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