2 Secret Ingredients To Transform Any Red Velvet Cake

The Best Exotic Blush Cake

I have loved baking since I was three. I’m known to find a good recipe and KILL it. With two ‘secret’ ingredients, I’ve revived a recipe that is well known and often badly overdone. Read on if you would like to hear what my two secret ingredients are. (I promise all will be revealed AND I’ll give you the recipe. )

Why do so many restaurants get it so wrong with red velvet cake? Bad margarine icing and too much gross. It seems to me that they take an already sketchy vanilla-ish cake, add way to much cochineal food colouring, slap something intended to be icing and TA DAAAAAAAAA…. You have to cough up top dollar for a slice of bleh.

No wonder the ruby concoction is met with so much rap.. Its been grossly misrepresented. A well made red velvet cake, dripping with cream cheese or mascarpone icing has been known to grace my plate on many an occasion. One of the coffee shops in my hood has hit the red velvet cake sweet spot. Lets just say, when others order poached eggs and bacon for breakfast, my standard is red velvet. When Red velvet is made properly and with love, it is a sumptuous feast of the ruby gods.

But, after having one too many a slice of red velvet, I started imagining …

I’m often inspired to bake something that is synonymous with a movie that I’ve just seen. After watching The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in 2011 and the sequel, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, earlier this year, my head was reeling with ideas. The movie is colourful, heart warming and spicy… I wanted to emulate this in a cake that would be exciting to eat and conjure up feelings of wanderlust for far away lands. It had to be something spicy and sweet that would fit right in in Mumbai or Marrakech.

If I could have figured out a way to capture the aromas that the oven emitted while the cake baked- I’d be a rich lady! Anyone for a bottle of the finest sweet, spicy and otherworldly fragrance? Decorating it with fragrant flowers, added to the intoxicating experience. The secret ingredients? Are you ready for it?

Espresso and spices are my secrets.

The combination of the espresso and spices make it a dark, decadent and spicy experience. This recipe is perfect as an autumn or winter cake. Its subtle spices and warm colour connote a day snuggled up with loved ones, binge watching Downtown Abbey and sipping on a steady stream of freshly roasted coffee while enjoying a slice (or more) of this decadent and moist cake.

The spiciness is offset by the punch of the espresso (one shot in the cake and one shot divided between the filling and the icing. I used a medium roast Ethiopian and Guatemalan blend. The notes in these origins complemented the flavours of the cake.

Although this is a luxurious recipe, it is so simple to make. Turn ordinary into extraordinary, red into redolant, blah into aaah.

Anyone for a slice of awesomeness!

The Best Exotic Blush Cake

Cake ingredients
2 3/4 cups of cake flour (350g)
1 1/2 cups of brown sugar
1/2 cup castor sugar
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cocoa powder
2 TBS cinnamon
1/4 tsp aniseed
1 tsp ground star anise (I ground the star anise in the  food processor – blade option used)
1/4 tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp green cardamon (remove the seeds from the outer pod by slicing the pod down the middle with a sharp knife)
A pinch of salt
1 cup (250ml) buttermilk
3 small eggs at room temperature
1 1/1 cups of oil
1 shot of espresso
1/2 teaspoon of rose water (I use Nielsen Massey Rose water. Hint: If you can’t find a good quality rose water, rather omit  as cheap rose water tastes vile! )
1 tsp white vinegar
Gel red food colouring.

Filling ingredients
250 g triple cream mascarpone
250 grams butter
1/2 shot espresso,
1 TBS cinnamon
2 cups icing sugar

This yields quite a lot of icing, so I generally use the left over icing lathered on a hot slice of ciabatta toast. Otherwise you can halve the recipe for less icing. (it all depends on how thick you want the middle layer to be)

Icing ingredients
2 cups of icing sugar,
125g butter
1/2 shot espresso

1. Preheat the oven to 180C
2. Grease the two baking pans well.
3. In a mixing bowl sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cocoa powder, vanilla powder, all the spices and salt.
4. In a separate mixing bowl mix together the buttermilk, eggs, oil, vinegar, gel food colouring, espresso, rose water.
5. Combine the flour mixture and wet mixture together. Mix together well.
6. Pour equal amounts of the cake batter in to the two baking pans.
7. Bake the cakes for 40- 45 mins.
8. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
9. To make the filling, lightly beat the mascarpone in a bowl, add the 250 grams softened butter add cinnamon.
10. Lather the top of cake 1 with the filling. Place cake number two on top.
11. To make the icing, sift icing sugar and mix it together with 125 grams softened butter and 1/2 shot of espresso.
12. Lather the icing on top of the cake.
13. Decorate the cake with bright and colourful flowers. I used rich blush red roses, carnations and chrysanthemums.
14. Place the cake in an airtight container in the fridge for 20 minutes before serving.



* The very talented Hannah Minkley was the lady behind the lense.

* The luscious gold dress is a bespoke creation by Ivy & Samuel.