Red Velvet Birthday Cake For Sam!

This past weekend we celebrated my dear friend Sam Trammell’s birthday.  (“True Blood” fans will recognize him as shapeshifter Sam Merlotte.)  Sam is from Louisiana, so Southern/Creole cooking was the theme in honor of his special day.  I was in charge of the cake which, of course, had to be RED VELVET!  It was a huge hit at the party and I heard from Sam this morning saying he was enjoying more cake for breakfast!

Below is the recipe exactly how I made it for Sam.  Be on the lookout next week for a simplified version of this recipe: a smaller cake (8 servings) baked and served right in a skillet- just in time for Valentine’s Day!

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Servings: 24 2X3 slices


5 1/4 cups cake flour

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

6 tablespoons red food coloring

6 tablespoons unsweetened dark cocoa powder

3 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature

3 cups granulated sugar

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups buttermilk (shake in carton before pouring)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups sour cream

1 1/2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

*Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below)

Optional: 1 1/2 cups toasted and finely chopped walnuts


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a 12X18 cake pan with butter, then line pan with parchment paper and generously butter the parchment.  Dust parchment with some cake flour and knock out the excess.

In a medium bowl, combine cake flour, salt and baking soda.  Mix well and set aside.

In a small bowl, stir the red food coloring and cocoa powder to form a smooth paste.  Set aside.

Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment or a hand mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy- about 2 minutes.  Scrape down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula.

Add eggs and beat just until combined, then add cocoa paste and beat for 4 minutes on medium speed.

Pour buttermilk into a measuring cup and add the vanilla extract to the buttermilk.

Turn the mixer on low and add the flour mixture in 3 increments alternating with the buttermilk mixture in 2 increments, starting and ending with the flour mixture.  Beat just until combined.

Add sour cream and vinegar and beat on low just until combined.

Pour batter into greased 12X18 cake pan and bake for 35-45 minutes (rotate the pan once halfway through for even baking) until a toothpick comes out of the center clean.  Do not overbake.

While cake is baking make the frosting.  (Frosting can be made the day before and refrigerated- just make sure to take it out and soften to room temperature before frosting your cake.)

Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes about 8 cups


4 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature

2 cups (16 ounces cream cheese) at room temperature

8 cups sifted powdered sugar

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

4 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups mascarpone cheese


Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or a hand mixer, cream together the butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar and salt on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Turning the mixer on low, add the vanilla extract and the mascarpone cheese and mix just until everything is combined.  Do not overmix.

*Note: This is enough frosting to generously cover the cake and pipe two boarders around the cake as shown in the final pictures.

Let cake cool completely in cake pan on a wire rack before frosting.

Transfer cooled cake to serving platter and tuck small strips of parchment partially under the cake to keep your platter clean while you are frosting.  Do a “crumb coating” by smoothing on a thin, even layer of frosting and then refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes to let the frosting firm up.

Then apply your top coat of frosting on the cake and chill for at least an hour to set.

Decorate as you wish.  Optional toasted and finely chopped walnuts are a wonderful addition on top of the cake.  For Sam’s cake, I served the toasted walnuts in a bowl on the side (just in case anyone had a nut allergy.)

5 Responses to Red Velvet Birthday Cake For Sam!

  1. love the idea of the skillet – can’t wait for the recipe!

  2. baudin says:

    i never thought to add mascarpone to the frosting. what a good idea. sam’s a lucky man.

    i second the foodinista. bring on the skillet.

    thanks so much.

  3. admin says:

    Just posted the skillet recipe. Enjoy!

  4. admin says:

    Skillet recipe just posted! Enjoy!

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