If I make only one cake a week from Martha Stewart’s Cakes, it will still take me almost two and a half years to get through the whole thing. So I thought it would be a good idea to start booking cake gigs on the side. That way, I’d have an excuse to churn out more than one every seven days. This cake was made at the request of my friend T. Scott, for his fiancée Juliet’s birthday party.

I added macarons to the side of the cake because… well I don’t have a reason beyond I wanted to eat some macarons. I intended to go all the way around the cake with silver dollar size macarons, but when I finally got to the place that makes them, they only had Duncan yo-yo size. So I went with four (but I bought seven and ate three on the drive home). Michael said the macarons made it look like a birthday cake for R2-D2, which led me to imagine C-3PO in the kitchen, wearing a chef hat and apron and being all prissy and hyper-sensitive about everything. That made me laugh, until I realized that I’m also prissy and hyper-sensitive about everything, and that really, the only things that separates me from C-3PO are a British accent and copper belly wiring.

By the way, I went out of book order with this cake. Had I not, Juliet would have gotten a Clementine Vanilla Bean Loaf Cake. But I don’t think a Clementine Vanilla Bean Loaf screams birthday love, and I don’t think T. Scott would have either. Of course, an R2-D2 cake doesn’t scream birthday love either, so I added some candy flowers and sprinkles to the top. It made the cake festive and fun to look at, and I think if you maintain a strict color scheme, you can get away with dressing up a cake as much as you like. The more visual and whimsical you can get, the better, especially when it comes to birthday cakes for people you love.

I forgot to take a picture of the inside of the cake, but guess what? It was red. All you need is a little food coloring, but be careful with it. After I was done with the batter, my kitchen counter looked like it was the scene of a ritualistic sacrifice.

Red Velvet Cake from Martha Stewart

  • Unsalted butter, for cake pans
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour, not self-rising
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 pound (2 8-ounce bars) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted

For the Cake:

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter two 9-by-2-inch round cake pans. Sprinkle with flour, and tap out the excess; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk cake flour, salt, and cocoa; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar and oil, and beat on medium speed until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add food coloring and vanilla, and beat until well combined. Add flour mixture, alternating with buttermilk, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.

In a small bowl, mix baking soda and vinegar until combined. Add to batter, and beat for 10 seconds. Evenly divide batter between the prepared pans. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool in the pans for 5 minutes. Remove from the pans, and return to the rack to cool completely.

Spread 1 1/2 cups of the frosting on one of the layers. Place the second layer on top; spread and swirl the remaining frosting around the sides and top of the cake.The cake can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 hours. Bring to room temperature before serving.

For the Frosting:

With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese and vanilla until light and creamy, about 2 minutes.  Add butter, beating until incorporated

Reduce speed to low.  Gradually add confectioners’ sugar, 1 cup at a time, and beat until fluffy and smooth.

Frosting can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 3 days.  Bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed before using.

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