Red Velvet – the illusive mythical cake-creature who’s following defies all reason and rationale. A tender crumbling cake that tingles with cocoa yet isn’t so overtly rich to make give the ingestee a wicked case of sugar-tummy that makes one curl up into a little ball and down a gallon of milk.
It’s been 3 years after my first Red Velvet experience and I’m still trying to pin down “what it is” about red velvet makes everyone tick. It’s always good, but you can never say quite what is so addicting and creates such a ravenous following for this cake.
It wasn’t until after my best friend’s wedding that made me fell head over heels for red velvet. Sure, I’m still struggling to find out what makes us all tick when a red velvet cake emerges at a party, but I’ve decided to just go with it and let my love of this cake take me where it may.
Why fight true lust? Cake lust that is.
The base of the rolls was Ms. Ree’s Cinnamon Roll recipe, ya know the one we’ve all heard of. Having made it a time or two I can attest to their deliciousness. Equal part carbs, goo and awesome. It seemed logical, because I am now living a bachelorette lifestyle with Ben 300 miles away that I needed to halve the recipe. 50 rolls when I can only pawn off 25 on the guys at work, seemed legit.
And of course the red velvet inspiration came from the Patron Saint of Butter, Aunt Paula.
Red velvet requires the use of buttermilk, no if, ands or but’s about it. And whoopsie, my kitchen was sorely lacking. Instead I opted for adding apple cider vinegar to my whole milk to give it the necessary tang.
Into the milk, sugar, and oil mixture went red food dye. *Cautionary note ahead*
Beware of red food dyes. When adding too much to any dish or frosting they have a tendency to come out bitter. Like, scrape your tongue and swish with a whole bottle of mouthwash bitter. Red is notorious for this, as evidenced here.
So, go with the “No-Taste” red if you have to use a lot of red dye. Or better yet, to make a good red that holds a good base color, dye your frosting as pink as you can and then add minimal red to get your desired color. Cake decorator here, trust me.
Once the milk, vinegar, oil, etc mixture was heated to about 101 degrees one package of yeast was drizzled over the top and left to bloom for about five minutes.
In the mean time I set about mixing up the flour. Here is where I wish I would have done something a tad different. Retrospect, it’s a
wonderful thing pain in the ass and makes you feel D-U-M. Here when I was adding the flours to the liquid mixture I should have also whisked in the cocoa powder and not waited until the next step. The rolls were great with a marbled cocoa look, but the cocoa really should have been mixed here to ensure proper n0n-zebra striped rolls.
The mix was let to rise for an hour in a warm place (where the dog wouldn’t get to them) and viola – an hour later they were ready for their close up.
The baking soda, powder, and salt was added (along with the cocoa *see note above*) and whisked in as well as I could.
*Sidebar* This King Arthur Flour dough whisk is a maniac in doughs. I highly recommend one to anyone who enjoys whisking their dough by hand. Hello, Angelina Jolie arms!
Now we’re gettin’ somewhere!
Into a edged baking sheet to minimize the mess, I rolled out 1/2 of the dough and left the other for the next round.
I followed Ree’s directions for filling the rolls on the first round. Melted butter, drizzled with sugar and then I added more cocoa. This was a disastrous mess to which I was eternally grateful I used the baking pan. So much of my goo came out of the rolls, I was trying furiously to shove it back in as I rolled them.
The next round I decided to try the “mix all three ingredients together and then fill”.
Worked like a charm. And I was able to test the sweetness of the whole mixture and adjust it a bit easier than if they were all added separately. And less mess. This is my new method.
After they were all sliced and placed into a lightly greased pan the rolls were left to rise another 20 minutes and then put into a preheated 375 degree oven for about 17 minutes.
As they were baking and smelling up my house with their sinful scent, I went about whipping up the cream cheese frosting for the tops. As only any self respecting red velvet treat would don. If it’s not cream cheese frosting, it’s not red velvet.
Then, I unceremoniously devoured one still piping hot. My mildly blistered mouth despises me, but my tummy was eternally thankful.
Red Velvet Rolls
A red velvet twist on the classic cinnamon roll.
Red Velvet Rolls:
1 Pint Whole Milk (or 1 pt Buttermilk, then omit the vinegar listed)
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
1/2 cup Sugar
1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tbsp No-Taste Red Food Coloring, Wilton
2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
1 package Active Dry Yeast, .25 ounce
4 1/2 cup Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt (heaping)
3 Tbsp Cocoa Powder, divided
1 cup Butter, melted
1 cup Sugar
1 package Cream Cheese, room temperature
3 cup Powdered Sugar
1/4 cup Milk
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
For the dough, heat up milk, oil, sugar, vinegar, food coloring and cocoa in a sauce pan over medium heat until it reaches about 101 degrees. Remove from heat and sprinkle dry yeast over the top and let rest for 5 minutes.
In large bowl, whisk together flour and warm milk/oil/sugar/yeast mixture. Cover with towel and set aside in warm place for 1 hour to rise.
When dough has risen, mix in baking soda, baking powder and salt.
Use immediately or place in fridge for next day's use.
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
Split dough in half and work with one half at a time. Set aside the other half of the dough for the next round of filling and rolling.
On floured surface, roll dough into a 15 by 10 inch rectangle.
In bowl, whisk together melted butter, sugar and cocoa powder. Test to make sure the proportions are to your liking, add more sugar or cocoa depending on desired taste.
Pour sugar/butter/cocoa mixture onto the rolled out dough, distribute/spread evenly. Beginning from the furthest edge tightly roll the dough towards you. When you reach the ends of the roll, pinch the edges of the dough together to create a seam. Slice log into 1 1/2" rolls, and place rolls into baking dish lightly coated with butter.
Repeat this process with other half of dough, rolling out, filling, rolling together and slicing.
Let dough rise for 20 minutes.
Place baking dish with rolls into oven for about 17 minutes. Remove and let cool on wire cooling rack.
In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment beat cream cheese until smooth. Slowly add in 1 cup of sugar at a time, alternating with a few tablespoons of milk until it's all mixed together. Add in rest of milk, vanilla extract and salt. Pour or smooth over red velvet rolls while they are still warm.
Slice and devour.
Adapted from Ree Drummond's Cinnamon Rolls and inspired by Paula Deen's Red Velvet Cake.