Lazarus opened last night (here’s Ben Brantley’s review here) and it seems appropriate to share the recipe for the Backstage Baker’s dramatic birthday cake for Michael Esper.
Red Velvet Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened, cocoa powder (plus more for dusting pans)
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
1 cup buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk substitute one cup milk less one tablespoon and one tablespoon of white vinegar. Let sit 5 minutes.)
2 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1-2 oz. red food coloring, depends how deep you want the color
1 teaspoon of white distilled vinegar
½ cup of plain hot coffee (don’t skip this ingredient)
2 (8 oz) packs cream cheese, softened
¼ cup milk, made need more
1 stick butter, softened
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine the sugar and vegetable oil.
4. Mix in the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and red food coloring until combined. Stir in the coffee and white vinegar.
5. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients a little at time, mixing after each addition, just until combined.
6. Generously grease two round, 9 inch cake pans with shortening and dust with cocoa.
7. Pour the batter evenly into each pan.
8. Bake in the middle rack for 30-40 minutes (check at 30 minutes), or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Do not over bake as cake will continue to cook as it cools.
9. Let pans cool on a cooling rack until the pans are warm to the touch.
Slide a knife or offset spatula around the inside of the pans to loosen the cake from the pan.
10.Remove the cakes from the pan and let them cool. These are moist cakes so I refrigerated them before icing.
11.Frost the cake with cream cheese frosting (recipe below).
Add softened cream cheese into large bowl.
Pour in milk, butter and vanilla extract.
Mix until well combined.
Pour in half of the powdered sugar.
Mix until combined.
Add the remaining powdered sugar.
Mix until smooth and fluffy.
Reserve about a cup of the frosting and tint with red food coloring until it achieves just the right bloody shade. Artistically dollop on and around cake as it pleases your murderous eye.
Production Assistant Rachel Zucker, Michael C. Hall and birthday boy Michael Esper