Happy Fourth! Here’s a patriotic cake for your Fourth of July barbecue.
Three layers of moist red velvet cake filled and frosted with vanilla bean buttercream (which tastes like creamy homemade vanilla ice cream), and layered and topped with summer berries.
I’m calling it Summer Velvet. For me, classic red velvet cake, rich and fudgy with luscious cream cheese frosting, will forever remind me of winter and Christmas since my family would always eat this cake on Christmas Eve. In my mind, it looks best with red and white candles, a sprig of holly, and Nat King Cole in the background.
So if that is Winter Velvet, this then is Summer Velvet. A southern red velvet cake, with a dash of cocoa for flavor and plenty of buttermilk to lighten it up, it’s a perfect summer-weight cake for July. I like it with berries on top and sparkler candles for the Fourth.
Note on Method: I loved the way my Yellow Butter Cake turned out so much, I decided to use the soaked-flours method again, and it’s incorporated into the recipe (see here for why I like it). If you find this step unnecessary or simply don’t have the time, combine all the dry ingredients together in one bowl and add in three additions after the eggs and vanilla, alternating with the buttermilk/kefir.
Summer Velvet Cake
3/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup each sweet rice flour, teff flour, and almond flour
1 1/2 cups buttermilk or kefir
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup potato starch
2 tbsp cocoa
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2-3 tbsp red velvet flavor emulsion plus optional red gel food coloring, OR 3 tsps red food color gel or enough to reach desired color
1 tsp vanilla
3 large eggs, room temp
1/4 cup mayonnaise (I used Best Foods [Hellman’s]; use a mayonnaise [not Miracle Whip] without flavorings like mustard, garlic, onion, etc.)
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Vanilla Bean Buttercream (recipe below)
6 oz each strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries, washed
The day before: Combine brown rice flour, sweet rice flour, teff flour, and almond flour with buttermilk or kefir. Cover with a towel and leave at room temperature for 12-24 hours.
The day-of: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter three 8 or 9 inch cake pans, line with parchment, butter the parchment, and flour with tapioca flour (or other flour of choice).
In a separate small bowl, combine potato starch, cocoa, and salt.
In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat butter, sugars, red velvet flavoring, and red gel paste until mixture is combined and color is distributed evenly.
On medium speed, add vanilla, then add the eggs one at a time, mixing until combined and scraping down the bowl after each addition.
In three additions, alternate between the dry ingredients (the cocoa mix) and the wet buttermilk/flour mixture, finishing with the dry mix. Mix until mixture is combined, but do not overmix. Fold in the mayonnaise.
In a small separate bowl, combine vinegar and baking soda so that it fizzes then immediately whisk into the cake batter until combined.
Divide batter between cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25-35 minutes.
Frost or freeze until ready (I recommend freezing the cake layers for at least 30 minutes for easy assembly–freeze while you make the frosting).
Vanilla Bean Buttercream
4 1/2 sticks plus 3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened and sliced
4 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 tbsp vanilla bean paste (or 1 1/2 vanilla beans)
2 1/2 tsps pure vanilla extract
1 generous pinch of salt, or to taste
Note: 1 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract may be subbed for the vanilla bean paste or vanilla bean if desired, for a total of 2 tbsp plus 1 tsp vanilla extract.
In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl with a hand beater, beat the butter on medium speed for about 10 minutes, until creamy.
Add powdered sugar, milk, vanilla bean paste and extract, and a generous pinch of salt. Beat on lowest setting for one minute, until sugar is incorporated, then beat on medium speed for 8 minutes, until all ingredients are combined and frosting is smooth.
Add additional milk to reach desired consistency. Use frosting right away or store in fridge until needed.
If necessary, trim cake layers with a long serrated knife until level.
Add a dab of frosting to the center of a cake round or cake plate, and place the first layer on top with its flattest side down. Top with a layer of frosting and press half of the sliced strawberries and half of the raspberries into the frosting. Cover the berries with a thin layer of frosting.
Set your second layer, flattest side down, on top of the first. Spread with a layer of frosting, then press half of the blackberries and half of the blueberries into the frosting, covering berries with another layer of frosting.
Set your final layer on top, flattest side up. Spread with a generous layer of frosting and gently decorate with remaining mixed berries.
Use your remaining frosting to pipe an edge around the top of your cake and around each layer if desired (I used a 1M tip).
Serve this at room temperature but store it in the fridge (I just slide mine onto a cutting board and covered it loosely with plastic wrap).