This beautiful and delicious cake is serving double duty today – as a festive holiday cake for inspiration to all of you as well as a birthday cake for a wonderful, red velvet/cheesecake-loving Mom. She’ll probably be mad that I hijacked her birthday cake to post something holiday-themed over here, but the cake was SO good, I don’t think she’ll complain too much. She said this might have even been my best cake yet! But that’s not surprising considering this is a layer of creamy cheesecake sandwiched between two layers of moist red velvet cake – it was hard to go wrong.
Apparently this recipe concept is borrowed from a staple on the Cheesecake Factory’s menu, the Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake. “Ultimate” is definitely an accurate description for this concoction, and is probably applicable to everything else on their menu too. Normally I protest the Cheesecake Factory’s non-human portion sizes and overindulgent choices, but when it comes to dessert I make some pardons, especially for birthdays. And since the restaurant never takes reservations, I was happy to deliver this cake to my mom hassle-free, without a wait, and homemade. Okay so maybe the cake involves a lot of steps and can be interpreted as a “hassle” by some, but I had a lot of fun making it and the components are not individually difficult, just a little bit of work to put it all together. Definitely worth it in the end!
As if the inside of the cake is not beautiful enough, I decided to try out a frosting rose technique made famous by Amanda of i am baker for the outside. I used a cream cheese frosting to compliment the cheesecake and red velvet flavors, but the consistency was a little soft for piping and didn’t demarcate the roses as well as I would have liked. But overall the effect is there and you wouldn’t believe how EASY it is to pipe roses like this. Please check out Amanda’s tutorial so you can start impressing your friends and family with your piping skills pronto. I decorated this cake in under an hour during a lunch break last week, including clean up time, so it’s definitely doable during the busy holiday season!
The red velvet cake was moist and flavorful – an improvement from a previous red velvet recipe I’ve used – and the cheesecake was slightly tart and perfectly creamy. I paired it with my newly discovered favorite cream cheese frosting and topped it with a row of red candy-coated chocolates. I chose to adapt this recipe for a 6″ cake since I was only serving 5 people by adjusting the ingredients to be 2/3 of the 9″ recipe – but I’ve lost my calculations somewhere and am kind of lazy to do the math again. Let me know if you really want the 6″ recipe and I will go on a hunt!
Red Velvet Cheesecake Layer Cake
Recipe adapted from 17 and baking
for the cheesecake layer:
20 oz full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
Zest of half a lemon
1-1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 tbsp all purpose flour
for the red velvet layer:
2-1/2 cups cake flour
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs, at room temperature
1-1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp white distilled vinegar
Red food coloring, as desired (I used about 1 tsp of gel color)
for the cream cheese frosting*:
12 oz cream cheese, cold
6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
for the cheesecake layer:
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and set a pot of water to boil.
- Grease a 9″ springform pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper. Wrap the outside of the pain with tinfoil to keep water out, and set the pan into a larger pan (for the water bath).
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat until smooth.
- Switch to a wooden spoon or spatula and mix in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt.
- Add eggs one at a time, making sure they are combined but not overmixed.
- Add the sour cream and stir in the flour until just combined.
- Pour the batter into the greased pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan, halfway up the cheesecake pan.
- Bake until the cheesecake is just set in the middle – about 40 minutes.
- Run a knife along the sides of the pan and let the cheesecake cool completely by placing plastic wrap onto the surface of the cheesecake and refrigerating overnight in the pan.
for the red velvet layer:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 9″ pans.
- Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt together in a medium bowl.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs, oil, buttermilk, vanilla extract, and vinegar together until well combined.
- With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and beat until well combined. Add the food coloring until desired color is achieved.
- Divide the batter equally between the 2 pans. Bake 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean, rotating the pans halfway.
- Cool the cakes in the pans for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edges and invert them onto cooling racks to cool completely.
for the cream cheese frosting:
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together cream cheese and butter until light and creamy. – Add the vanilla extract.
- Slowly add the powdered sugar and beat until well combined, about 2-3 minutes.
- I made the cheesecake and red velvet cake one night and let them both sturdy-up in the fridge overnight. The next day, I whipped up the frosting and assembled the cake.
- First, layer the cakes on top of each other and apply a thin coat of frosting and return to the fridge for 30 minutes. This is your “crumb coat”.
- If you’re decorating the cake as I did, apply another layer of smooth frosting to the top of the cake and leave the sides alone.
- Load the rest of the frosting into a piping bag fit with a large open-star tip and follow Amanda's rose tutorial to decorate the sides..
- Return to the fridge until ready to serve.
*Note: I made a whole batch of this cream cheese frosting for my 6″ cake, and didn’t have much left over, so if you would like to recreate the roses, I would suggest doubling this frosting recipe for a 9″ cake to make sure you have enough!
Happy Birthday Mom! Here are some pictures from her birthday celebration, including a low-light but delicious shot of the inside of the cake :)