Twas the night before Christmas two thousand and eight, when Debbie set out to bake her Red Velvet Cheesecake …
You might remember Bobby Flay’s Cheesecake Throwdown epsiode on Food Network with Alan Rosen of Junior’s. Alan prepared his Devil’s Food Cheesecake. This recipe and 49 others are contained in Junior’s Cheesecake Cookbook, 50 To-Die-For Recipes for New York-Style Cheesecake (I have read mine from cover to cover).
Armed with my new cheesecake cookbook, memories of the “Throwdown”, a red velvet cake recipe and having read the instructions for my new mixer, I began my quest to duplicate the Red Velvet Cheesecake I saw in Junior’s latest mail out catalog. I am a list maker, note taker (see I’m not afraid to admit it publically) and the following was my agenda as written on the back of the red velvet cake recipe my Mother gave me:
Christmas Eve … Mission: Cheesecake
EARLY Christmas Morning … Mission: Red Velvet Cake
followed by … Mission: Red Velvet Cheesecake Assembly
MISSION: Cheesecake (refer to Devil’s Food Cheesecake recipe above)
Junior’s cookbook says that it is very important to follow their 2 step mixing technique for the filling (cheesecake layer). Step 1: cream together one 8oz. package of cream cheese, 1/3 cup of the sugar and the cornstarch with your mixer’s paddle attachment, on low speed, to make what they call the “starter-batter”. Then add the rest of the cream cheese, one package at a time. Make sure you stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl after blending in each package and before adding the next. Step 2: Increase your mixer speed to medium , no faster! Beat in the remaining sugar and then the vanilla. Blend in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after adding each one. Then, beat in the cream just until it’s completely incorporated. When the batter pulls together in the bowl and looks creamy and billowly it’s ready to bake. Do not overmix! (I was a bit worried that I would not recognize “billowly” batter. But fear not, once the cream is fully incorporated it happens … the appearance changes and it becomes very smooth, airy … and yes billowly!)
Here’s a tip from Junior’s cookbook: the cheesecake is finished baking when the edges are set and light golden brown and the top turns slightly golden tan and looks set (no longer wet looking). If it is still soft around the sides and the color is pale, leave the cheesecake in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes more. (I baked mine in a 350 degree oven for one hour and 18 minutes)
When fully baked, remove from the water bath, transfer to a wire rack and cool in the pan for 2 hours. After 2 hours, I wrapped the cheesecake, pan and all, in plastic wrap and put in the freezer. It will need to be in the freezer until you are ready to assemble the cake.
MISSION: Red Velvet Cake
The red velvet cake recipe I use was given to me by my mother. It was not until she made me a copy of the recipe that I realized that it was from a full page newspaper article that was published in The Kansas City Kansan newspaper, Thursday Evening, September 27, 1962 in a section known as Budget Balancer. The story read:
Working Gals Take the Cake
Do they like to cook? Yes, but not during the week when they must hurry home from work and rush to get supper on the table. These Saturday night and Sunday morning cooks are career gals at Montgomery Ward’s who recently staged a cake contest in observance of their store’s 90th anniversary celebration. Twenty-two non-sales personnel baked cakes and after the judging, they offered samples to customers. Requests for recipes have been pouring in ever since. First prize went to Mrs. Willis Crews for a German chocolate cake. It’s her favorite “company” cake as she feels it’s too rich for everyday. A payroll clerk, Mrs. Crews dislikes baking at night and does most of her cooking on the weekends. She relies on her home freezer to prepare foods in advance, but since this cake takes too much preparation, she’s never had the heart to freeze it. “It’s been years since I’ve had a cake mix in the house,” says this cook. (I have decided to put these cakes on my baking schedule and will share my results with you all … Exquisite Carrot Cake, German Chocolate Cake w/ coconut pecan frosting and Feather Devil’s Food Cake).
Red Velvet Cake
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 ounces of red food coloring
2 heaping Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup buttermilk
2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda
Cream shortening, sugar and eggs until very fluffy. Make a paste of the red food coloring and cocoa and add to the first mixture. Add alternately, the buttermilk and cake flour. Then add salt and vanilla. Mix together the vinegar and baking soda and fold into your batter mixture. Bake in 2 layer pans (I used 9″, generously greased the bottoms and sides with butter and lined the bottoms with parchment paper.) at 350 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes. (Let the cakes cool in the pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then turn them out onto racks and peel off the paper liners. Let the cakes cool completely, about 2 hours, then wrap each layer in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Refrigeration is crucial to the assembly process.)
My EARLY Christmas morning dilemma was no buttermilk in the fridge! After consulting with my Mother via phone, I used 1 cup of whole milk and 1 Tablespoon of fresh squeezed lemon juice. It took about 15 minutes to begin to slightly curdle. It worked perfectly! Mission completed!
MISSION: Red Velvet Cheesecake Assembly
When you are ready to assemble the cake, take the cheesecake from the freezer and allow it to stand at room temperature for 10 minutes while you make the frosting. I used the cream cheese frosting recipe from Junior’s Cheesecake Cookbook. You can use your favorite cream cheese frosting recipe … just make sure you double it!
Choose the best of the 2 cake layers and carefully cut it in half to form 2 half layers. Place one of these half layers (cut side down) on a cake plate. Spread with frosting. (Gently crumble the other full layer to be used to decorate the finished cake.)
Place the cheesecake, top side down, on top of the frosted red velvet cake layer and spread with frosting. (A Junior’s tip for removing the frozen cheesecake from the pan helped me tremendously! They recommend warming the bottom of the pan by setting it on a hot, wet towel long enough to melt the butter used to grease the pan. Remove the pan ring. Gently insert a long narrow spatula between the bottom of the cake and the pan bottom, moving it slowly in a circle. Then lift up the edge of the cake with the spatula, oh-so-gently, just enough to release the vacuum between the bottom of the cake and the pan.)
Top with the remaining half cake layer, cut side down. Ice the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Decorate the sides and top edge of the cake with the cake crumbles. Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve (it takes this cake about 2 hours in the refrigerator to thaw enough to easily slice.) Use a sharp straight-edge knife, not a serrated one, to cut it. If there’s any cake leftover, cover it and refrigerate.
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