“An impressive, but easy cake,” is how iconic TV cook Mary Berry describes this bake.
“Use a professional food colouring paste, if you can; a natural liquid colouring won’t work and may turn the sponge green,” she recommends.
“For a particularly elegant finish, you could make extra icing and crumb coat the sponge before applying the top layer of icing.”
Red velvet sandwich cake
Butter, for greasing
250g (9oz) plain flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
250g (9oz) light muscovado sugar
200ml (⅓ pint) buttermilk
150ml (¼ pint) sunflower oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp red food colouring gel or about ¼ tsp food colouring paste
2 large eggs
8 white chocolate truffle balls, to decorate
For the buttercream icing:
250g (9oz) butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla extract
300g (10½oz) icing sugar
250g (9oz) full-fat mascarpone cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/Gas 4. Grease and line the bases of 2×20cm (8in) sponge sandwich tins with non-stick baking paper.
2. Measure the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and sugar into a bowl and mix well.
3. Mix the buttermilk, oil, vanilla, food colouring and 100ml (3½fl oz) water in a jug. Add the eggs and whisk until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until combined. The mixture should be bright red; it will get a little darker as it cooks. If it’s not as vivid as you’d like, add a touch more colouring.
4. Divide the mixture evenly between the two prepared tins and level the surfaces. Bake in the preheated oven for about 25–30 minutes, or until well risen and shrinking away from the sides of the tins. Cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then turn out, peel off the paper and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
5. To make the buttercream icing, place the soft butter and vanilla extract in a large bowl and sift in half the icing sugar. Mix with an electric whisk until smooth. Sift in the remaining icing sugar and mix again. Add the mascarpone to the bowl and gently stir with a spatula until smooth (don’t beat with a whisk as it may split). Put a fluted nozzle in a piping bag and spoon about 150g (5oz) of the buttercream into the bag.
6. To assemble the cake, sit one of the sponges on a cake plate and spread a third of the buttercream over the cake, then sit the other cake on top. Ice the cake by first spreading a thin layer of icing – a crumb coat – over the whole cake before chilling for 30 minutes. Then pile the remaining icing from the bowl on top and spread over the top and around the edges to completely cover the cake. Make sure that the icing is smooth around the edges before starting to create lines up the sides. Using a small palette knife, make wide lines up the sides and swirl the top. Pipe a rope design around the edge of the top of the cake and decorate with the eight chocolate truffles to finish.
Mary Makes it Easy is published by BBC Books, priced £28. Photography by Laura Edwards. Available now.