ombre red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting
Snowed in? Spend the afternoon warming up in the kitchen and spread cheer with this Ombre Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.
San Francisco has been absolutely gorgeous as of late with temperatures in the 60’s and 70’s for the past few weeks. Feel free to rub this in my face during our summer months where the weather is unseasonably cold compared to the rest of the country. By then I’ll more than likely be whining with the best of them. As a peace offering to those who have been slammed with winter weather week after week, I present to you this gorgeous Ombre Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. How can a slice of this beauty not brighten up a cold winter day?
I started with a classic red velvet cake recipe that is moist, flavorful, and bursting with color. If you’re anti artificial red dye, turn away now. I get it, I really do, just please respect me as much as I respect you in this controversial baking matter. I baked the cake in a quarter sheet pan to assemble using the Momofuku Milk Bar method. This allows for even baking, moist cake all the way to the edge of each round, and level stacking during assembly.
The Momofuku method requires a few extra tools in the kitchen, but once you have them on hand I truly believe this is one of the easiest ways to assemble a cake. However, this recipe is delicious no matter how it is assembled so feel free to bake it in rounds, cupcakes or however else you’re accustomed.
Cream cheese frosting is easily one of my favorite frosting flavors. Seriously, I want to shove that offset spatula in my face right this minute. For this cake I prepared the frosting in a way that yielded a silky and tart filling for layering between the cake as well as a sweeter and sturdier frosting for covering the outside. Don’t panic, I did this in a way that is so easy it only requires one mixing bowl. The end result was a gorgeous cake that balanced just the right amount of sweet cream cheese goodness.
For the ombre effect, I started by frosting the top with plain white cream cheese frosting. I then spread a layer of white approximately one-third of the way down the sides of the cake. After adding several drops of orange food coloring into the remaining cream cheese frosting, I frosted the middle third of the sides of the cake. After adding several more drops of orange food coloring into the remaining frosting, I frosted the bottom third of the sides of the cake. To blend the colors I took a long offset spatula and ran it around the perimeter of the cake in one smooth motion until I had the desired effect. My last step was to add a little birthday cheer with a thin band of coordinating jimmies at the bottom – totally optional, but totally adorable.
These cakes are rustic, charming, and most importantly cheerful. Perfectionism will get the best of you if you let it so just have fun and let your cake’s individual personality shine through!
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ cup butter, room temperature
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons red food coloring
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup sugar
- 8 ounces (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
- 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 5 cups confectioners sugar, divided
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Optional food coloring and sprinkles for decorating if desired
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a quarter sheet pan (13x9-inch) with parchment paper, spray with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
- Whisk together four, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Cream together butter and sugar in an electric mixer. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, and beat until smooth.
- In a small bowl, make a paste out of the cocoa powder and red food coloring. Add to mixer and beat until well combined.
- Stir together buttermilk and vinegar. Alternate adding buttermilk mixture and dry ingredients to the mixer, beating between each addition until smooth.
- Pour batter into prepared baking sheet, using a spatula to spread evenly to edges. Bake until top is lightly browned and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
- Boil water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat just until sugar is completely dissolved.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool completely before using. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator and used as a sweetener for iced tea or mixed drinks.
- Beat together butter and cream cheese in an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually mix in 4 cups of confectioners sugar and vanilla extract until smooth.
- Remove half of the frosting and set aside. This will be used to as filling between each layer.
- Add remaining cup of confectioners sugar and beat until smooth. This thicker frosting will be used to cover the outside of the cake.
- Gently run knife around edge of cake to loosen from sides of pan. Turn over onto work surface and peel away the parchment paper.
- Using a 6-inch cake ring cut out two full circles and two partial circles from your sheet cake.
- Place cake ring on serving platter or cardboard cake round and line with a 4-inch tall strip of acetate.
- Place a full circle of cake into the bottom of the cake ring, brush with simple syrup, and top with a thick layer of filling.
- Place the two partial circles into the cake ring, pushing up against opposite sides to create a gap down the middle. Tightly wedge the remaining cake scraps into the gap to create a full layer of cake. Brush with simple syrup and top with a thick layer of filling.
- Place the final full round on top of the cake and gently press down to even out layers. Brush with simple syrup and top with a final thin layer of filling.
- Freeze cake for 30 minutes to an hour before carefully lifting cake ring off of cake and peeling away acetate.
- Spread a thin coat of your thicker frosting around the sides of the entire cake. Freeze an additional 15-30 minutes to set.
- Spread remaining frosting evenly around all sides and top of cake, smoothing with an offset spatula.
- Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Slice with a sharp knife while still cold then allow slices to rest for 15-20 minutes at room temperature before serving.
6×3-inch Aluminum Cake Ring
4-inch Acetate Strips
Quarter Sheet Pan