Oh look! A recipe for something red velvet with cream cheese frosting! What a surprise! I'm sure that if you're an avid stalker of Tastespotting or Food Gawker (which I am, of course- I pretty much always have at least one tab open to either of these sites, if not one for each), you'll be seeing a red velvet version of almost everything around this time, whether it's in cake form, cupcake form, pancake form, and even cinnamon roll form (I'm slightly upset that this thought never occurred to me...). In any case, I hope to add one of my own photos to these food-porn galleries in the form of this red velvet roulade with cream cheese frosting. I haven't seen too many photos of one of these on the galleries!
It's February 6, and I'm sure the reason for recent increase in red velvet baked goods is pretty obvious- Valentine's Day is quickly approaching! I've always found the holiday to be a bit silly, but that's not to say that I find Valentine's Day goodies to be ridiculous as well..in other words, let's closely analyze the food trends of the holiday, shall we? There's chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate, strawberries and other red berries are everywhere to be seen, desserts are often presented in mini form, normally white desserts are magically turned pink, and great care goes into making all foods, even savory ones, seem just a bit more special. There's nothing wrong with these trends, at least in my opinion! Maybe heart-shaped pancakes and waffles are a bit much for me, but that's really the only thing that seems a little overdone. Other than that, bring on the chocolate-covered strawberries, pink macarons, and mini trifles, because I'm ready!
I figured my first contribution to the upcoming holiday would have to be in the form of a roulade, a type of cake that my mom made very often when I was little (her version was basically a vanilla sponge cake that was rolled up with whipped cream and strawberries, and it was just amazing). Roulades, or cake rolls, are definitely not one of the types of cakes I feel super confident with baking just yet, but I love them regardless. They have a simple and carefree sort of quality to them, and when they're sliced, they're very visually striking. Since I'm not too much a fan of frosting, roulades are also perfect for me, simply because the cake to frosting ratio is always higher on the cake end! In fact, when I was younger, I would always eat my slices of cake roll in a spiral fashion, eating only the cake and leaving all the frosting behind. Some things never change, because when I got to try this cake after photographing it, I ended up eating it in the exact same manner!
This cake isn't a true red velvet cake, simply because there is no cocoa powder that's been added to it. It does, however, contain the vinegar and buttermilk that normally give red velvet cake its subtle tang, which in this specific cake, is slightly more subtle than normal. The original recipe was for a "pink velvet" roulade, and it was paired with a vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream. I wanted to go for a more in-your-face dessert, so I figured red was the way to go. As for the frosting, well, what goes better with red velvet (even if it's pseudo-red velvet) than cream cheese frosting? The two worked perfectly together, in my opinion.
The cream cheese frosting recipe that I used made a LOT of frosting- much more than is needed for this roulade. You could probably use the frosting recipe as is (I've given the quantities for the full amount) to make two roulades, or simply halve the recipe. The cake batter itself is super simple to prepare, and is, in my opinion, pretty hard to screw up. Just make sure to immediately turn the cake out onto a powdered sugar-covered tea towel and roll it up- this is probably the most important step in making any cake roll, as this is what will help ensure that the roll will not crack (or maybe, not crack as much), when you roll it up with the frosting inside. Don't worry about getting the powdered sugar from the tea towel all over the outside of the cake, as that can be easily fixed with a dusting of some more powdered sugar.
For the Cake:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup extra fine granulated sugar
1 tablespoon canola oil (vegetable will work as well)
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
red food coloring (I used Wilton gel colors)
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and position a rack in the middle of the oven. Grease a 9x13-inch jelly roll pan (or a quarter sheet pan) with nonstick baking spray, and line with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper as well.
In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a standard electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs together for 5 minutes (I timed this!). While the mixer is running, slowly add the sugar, and then the oil. Then, beat in the buttermilk, vinegar, and vanilla extract. Begin to add the food coloring a drop at a time, until you've reached your desired shade of red. Mix well.
With the mixer running on low speed, begin to add the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, and tilt to distribute the batter evenly. Bake the cake for about 12 minutes. You'll know the cake is ready if it springs back when lightly touched.
While the cake is baking, lay a cotton tea towel on a flat surface, and sprinkle it with powdered sugar, rubbing the sugar into the towel with your hands. As soon as you remove the cake from the oven, immediately invert the cake onto the tea towel (make sure to do this right away!). Peel off the parchment paper and immediately roll the cake into the tea towel, beginning at the short end. Roll the cake tightly and evenly. Place the rolled cake, seam-side down, on a wire rack, and allow it to cool completely.
While the cake is cooling, prepare the cream cheese frosting. In the bowl of a standard electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese and butter, and beat for several minutes until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract, and beat until smooth and creamy.
To assemble the roulade, carefully unroll the cake once it has cooled completely. There will be one end that will be very tightly rolled- don't force it to lie flat! Frost the cake with the cream cheese frosting, leaving about an inch of the other short flat end unfrosted, and roll the cake back up tightly. Refrigerate the cake for about an hour, then dust with powdered sugar and cut with a serrated knife into slices. Enjoy!
Makes 1 cake roll