It still throws me, every year, that here in Norway Mother’s Day is in February. Before I moved here I just kind of assumed that Mother’s Day (and Father’s Day, for that matter) were more or less celebrated on the same day the world over. But it does seem kind of fitting that Mother’s Day should fall in the same month as Valentine’s Day, a day where we celebrate love. I really can’t think of a more love-filled endeavor than being a parent. With that in mind, I decided that this year’s Mother’s Day cake for my Mother-in-law and Sister-in-law should embody February’s theme of love.
Red Velvet Heart Cake
Makes 1 four layer 6″ cake
For the red velvet cake:
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp. baking cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup milk
3 cups all purpose flour
Red food coloring
For the sponge cake heart center:
6 tbsp. all purpose flour
4 tbsp. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
For the cream cheese frosting:
12 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
8 cups powdered sugar (about 1 kg/2lbs)
For this cake, I really wanted to try a “surprise inside cake” with a heart center. I’ll admit, it’ll probably take some practice to get perfect, but it came out pretty well for it being my first time (even if my niece was pretty sure it was a banana instead of a heart…). I am baker has a fantastic step-by-step tutorial for doing this, so I’m going to refer you to her rather than going through it all again here. The only difference between her tutorial and what I did is that I only used 4 layers of cake for the heart instead of the 6 she used. You could probably do either one and it would be just fine.
To make the red velvet cake, beat the butter with the sugar until the mixture is more or less smooth and fluffy (you’ll still see granules of sugar, but it shouldn’t be lumpy). Add the eggs and beat until smooth. Beat in the baking cocoa, vanilla extract, and baking soda. On low, add the milk and flour, and mix until just combined. Stir in red food coloring until you reach the shade of red you want (I tend to use a little more because I like a really red red velvet cake). Divide your batter evenly between four 6″ pans (grease the sides and line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper). Bake at 350*F (175*C) for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
To make the sponge cake center, beat the eggs and sugar together on high until the mixture lightens (it should be off white) and thickens (about 3-5 minutes). Gently fold in the baking powder and flour until the mixture is just combined but nonetheless lump-free. Fill your greased and lined 4″ cake pan about half way up (my 4″ pan is about 4″ tall so I could fit all of my layers in one, but if not, you can divide your batter among several pans; just be sure you have about 4″ worth of cake when they’re all stacked up) and bake at 350*F (175*C) for 20-25 minutes. This will only use about half of your sponge cake batter, so feel free to bake up the rest and use it in another project!
Wrap up all of your layers of cake, and let them cool overnight. This will make them easier to handle and less likely to break/crumble. Once you ready to assemble the cake, you can whip up your frosting. Beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and completely combined. Add your powdered sugar and vanilla extract, and beat until the frosting is smooth and lump free. To assemble the cakes with the heart center, check out I am baker’s tutorial here.
To frost the cake, I applied the rest of my cream cheese frosting around the outside and top of my cake, and then used an icing comb that I picked up at Ikea to create the texture (you can achieve a similar look by using a spoon handle, like in this tutorial). To top it all off, decorate the top of your cake with iced sugar cookies on lollipop sticks. Once you’ve decorated the cookies, simply “glue” the sticks to the back of the cookies with royal icing.
I’m afraid I didn’t take any professional looking pictures of the inside of the cake, since it seemed wrong to cut into the cake at home to take pictures when I would be serving it later that evening at my Mother-in-law’s, but my Brother-in-law snagged a few cell phone pictures if you really want to see how the inside turned out.
Red velvet cake and cream cheesing frosting recipes adapted from Georgetown Cupcakes