I'm sure if you met my family, you'd immediately notice how loud we become when we're around each other. Especially the women. Maybe it's a Korean thing, since one of the most memorable sounds of my childhood is the sound of the moms with their screeching, joyful laughs by the pool during our California summers. But whatever the reason, my sisters, mom, and I tend to be the loud forces of the home, whether we are sad, happy, or even frustrated. My dad and my brother? They are our quiet, calm souls. Dad refers to our family as a yin yang. It's a necessary balance.
So you can imagine that Eugene wasn't about to ask for anything in particular for his birthday. He is a brother of few demands, always the independent lone ranger surrounded by his three sisters. It is undoubtedly an excessive amount of estrogen and I don't credit him enough for dealing with us. I am at this moment making it up to him in the best way I know how - a custom birthday cake that checks all the boxes from his initial, elaborate request (just kidding, he actually just texted me "red velvet and vanilla frosting"). But he really meant to say a moist, soft red velvet cake with just a hint of chocolate flavor, colored red but not obnoxiously so, covered in a smooth, simple vanilla buttercream. An ideal cake for topping with candles, for family dinners, and for feeling festive.
My way of saying, love you little bro. Your creativity makes you unique in our family of medicine-minded folk. You always remind me to embrace my artistic side. Happy 22nd birthday!
Red velvet cake
Ingredients - makes a two layer 8 inch cake, or a three layer 6 inch cake
- 2 cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup of prepared plain hot coffee
- 2 1/2 teaspoons red gel food coloring, plus more if needed
For the frosting
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- Powdered sugar (3-4 cups, most likely)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Almond milk (1-2 tablespoons, most likely)
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Line pans with parchment paper and grease with cooking spray, oil, or butter and flour.
- In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder, and sugar together. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, mix the oil, eggs, almond milk, vinegar, and vanilla extract until well combined. Add these contents to the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Add in the hot coffee and mix until combined. Finally, add in the red gel food coloring and mix until the food coloring is well distributed. You want the batter to look red and you can adjust the color if you want it to look redder!
- Pour the batter into the cake pans and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick placed in the center of the cakes come clean. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes, then turn out the cakes from the pan and place on a cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.
- For the frosting, beat the butter in a stand mixer on medium speed for 3 minutes. Add in the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until it reaches a thick consistency like frosting. Add in the almond milk, vanilla extract, and salt and mix again. If the frosting becomes too watery, add a little more powdered sugar until it reaches a thick but spreadable consistency. Frost cakes as desired, and enjoy with family!