When it comes to baking, no matter how many batches of chocolate chip cookies I make, I’m just not quite a traditionalist. If I were, I would have made a basic red velvet layer cake by now, instead of making red velvet cupcakes, red velvet sandwich cookies and, now, a red velvet roll cake. That said, I’m not exactly on the cutting edge of innovation, either. If I were, I would have forsaken cake entirely and tried for a red velvet flan.
This is a jelly roll-type cake made with a chocolate sponge cake rolled around a rich cream cheese filling. The cake, although it looks quite elegant, is fairly easy to make, thanks to the fact that the cake itself is both moist and sturdy. It is basically a sponge cake, but like all red velvet cakes it contains the requisite combination of cocoa, buttermilk and baking soda. The chocolate flavor is mild and the cake is quite tender, especially after it has been filled with cream cheese frosting and left to sit for a few hours (time that allows the flavors to blend).
Because this is a sponge-type cake that gets its structure primarily from beaten eggs, it is important to make sure your eggs are at room temperature when you start to work with them, so remember to take them out of the fridge at least 45 minutes before you’re going to start cooking. Many recipes that call for cake flour require that it be sifted before measuring and this one is no exception. Sifting helps to prevent lumps, large or small, from forming in the fine flour and creating pockets in your cake. Simply spoon a moderate amount of flour into a fine mesh sifter, sift onto a sheet of parchment paper and gently spoon back into your measuring cup when ready.
One other thing to note about this recipe is that the color is variable. I like my red velvet cakes/cupcakes to have a relatively subtle color, but if you prefer a brighter hue, simply add more red food coloring. An additional teaspoon or two will not throw off the recipe in any way. The color might darken (i.e. look less bright) after baking, so keep that in mind, too.
Red Velvet Roll Cake
3/4 cup sifted cake flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp buttermilk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp red food coloring
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a jelly roll pan (approximately 17″x12″x1″) with aluminum foil and grease it well with some vegetable oil or cooking spray.
Sift together sifted cake flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into a small bowl. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs together with an electric mixer on high speed. Once they are frothy, slowly add in the sugar. Beat until light, approximately 5 minutes. Beat in the vegetable oil, buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla and red food coloring. Working steadily, but gradually, mix in the cocoa mixture with the electric mixer at a low speed.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 12-15 minutes, until cake springs back when lightly pressed in the center.
While cake is baking, sift some confectioners’ sugar onto a large, clean dish towel. When you remove the cake from the oven, carefully flip it over onto the dish towel. Peel off the foil (it should come off easily because it was greased) and roll the cake up in the dish towel, beginning with a short end.
Place cake, hot but wrapped in the towel, seam-side down on a wire rack to cool completely (at least 1 hour).
Prepare filling (below) while it cools.
Cream Cheese Filling
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Beat all ingredients together until light and spreadable.
When cake is cool, gently unwrap it and spread the inside with the filling. Re-roll and place on a serving platter. Dust with more confectioners’ sugar before serving.