Cake of the Day: Red Velvet Cheesecake from ‘The Up South Cookbook’

Every day, Yahoo Food features delectable cakes. They taste good, they look good, and they’re made by good people — talented bakers from around the world. Today, Georgia native Nicole Taylor shares a decadent take on a red velvet cake just in time for Thanksgiving from her new cookbook, The Up South Cookbook: Chasing Dixie in a Brooklyn Kitchen.

Red Velvet Cheesecake. (Photo: Noah Fecks)

Serves 12

What I know for sure is that my Aunt Jean can make a perfect red velvet cake. I’ll say that it’s the one thing that she never burned or fell asleep on. I knew it was baking time when she pulled down her yellow recipe box. She would always say this is “one expensive cake” and remind me that the liquid fat gave the batter its moisture. The key to this dessert is using the finest ingredients and taking care. The cheesecake layer is my homage to classic New York City.

Red Velvet Cake
½ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup all-purpose flour, plus 1 tablespoon to coat pan
1½ teaspoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
Small pinch coarse salt
1 large egg
¼ cup sunflower oil
¼ cup coconut oil
⅓ cup buttermilk
¼ teaspoon vanilla paste
¼ teaspoon red gel food coloring
1 teaspoon butter to coat pan

Cheesecake
3 cups cream cheese (24 ounces)
1 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup heavy cream
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1½ teaspoons lemon juice (about ½ lemon)

Cream Cheese Frosting
½ cup cream cheese (4 ounces)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
½ cup powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla paste
½ cup chopped pecans

The red velvet cake: Preheat oven to 325°F. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Whisk together to combine.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, or a large bowl, add the egg and oils. Mix on medium-low for 1 minute to combine.

Add the buttermilk, vanilla, and red gel. Mix on medium-low for 1 minute to combine.

With the mixer on medium-low, slowly add the dry mixture. Mix until the flour is just incorporated.

Butter and flour (shake off excess) a 10-inch springform pan. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 35 minutes. Let cake completely cool.

The cheesecake: In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the cream cheese, sugar, heavy cream, and salt. Beat together until thoroughly mixed. Add the eggs, beat together. Stir in the lemon juice.

Pour on top of the cooled red velvet cake in the springform pan. Bake at 325°F for 45 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. The cheesecake will look slightly golden. Let cool completely.

The cream cheese frosting: In the bowl of your stand mixer or a large bowl, add the cream cheese and softened butter. Mix on medium speed until combined.
Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few spoonfuls at a time. Pour in vanilla paste.

Spread the frosting on the cooled cheesecake and sprinkle the pecans evenly on top of the frosting. Store in the fridge.

Note: My go-to flours are King Arthur All-Purpose and White Lily. I stuff my suitcase with this Southern staple when returning from trips down south. Everyone knows that Dixie cooks love using White Lily Flour to create desserts. Once milled in Knoxville, Tennessee, and later bought by The J. M. Smucker Company in 2006.

A few years back, I moderated a Red Velvet Cake Debate (hosted by Nichelle Stephens co-founder of Cupcakes Take the Cake) where the banter centered on technique. The most important and final question posed was if the red velvet sweet treat was just a fad. But, for sure, red velvet is part of the long-lived traditions of home bakers and pastry professionals.

Reprinted with permission from The Up South Cookbook

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