I knew my birthday this year would be the last one I would ever spend with my mom, so I decided to make a cake worthy of the occasion. It isn’t every day that you bake a cake to share with your loved one for the last time. Though deeply depressed, I forced myself to make this cake in honour of my mom and my relationship with her. I brought it to the hospital, and we shared a slice. She was really only able to eat a bite or two, but I’m glad that this cake was the last one we ever shared.
My mom passed away a few days after my birthday. I am hurting in a way that cannot really be expressed with words – how does one describe a wound of the soul with mere words? – but I’m so grateful to the universe for permitting me one last special day with my mom. I haven’t really been in the mood to bake or blog lately, as you can imagine. I finally dragged myself to my computer to write about this cake, because of its significance to my mom and me, and because my mom would want me to continue to do the things I love. Well, I love cake, and so did she.
You really need to make this cake. It is so ludicrously over-the-top and fun and delicious. The cheesecake layers taste and feel like the best cream cheese icing ever made (the crust is omitted from this cheesecake), and the flavours of the cheesecake, blue velvet cake, and cream cheese icing all complement one another beautifully. The textures are wonderful together – tender, moist cake with thick, rich cheesecake wrapped in creamy, tangy cream cheese icing? Hallelujah! I recommend making the cheesecake 2 – 3 days ahead of time, so that the flavours can ripen. Trust me, you’ll notice the difference. I would also advise making the blue velvet cake layers the same day you plan to assemble the cake, so that the texture of the blue velvet cake layers isn’t compromised. This probably goes without saying, but use whatever colour makes you the most happy – just make sure you use 2 TBS of that colour!
Make this cake for a special occasion, or make it just to make it. This is one funny, happy cake, with the power to make everyone smile. See how ridiculous this thing is? It puts the “groove” in “groovy.”
And then, after icing, you’re left with this intimidating block of deliciousness…
It’s time to get into the kitchen and make thyself this beautiful beast!
Blue Velvet Cheesecake Cake Birthday Cake
For the cheesecake:
5 packages cream cheese (8 oz. each), cut into 1″ chunks, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla extract
6 large eggs + 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
For the blue velvet cake:
nonstick baking spray and parchment paper, for preparing the pans
2 1/4 cups BLEACHED all-purpose flour (unbleached flour may dull the food colouring)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 TBS (1 oz.) blue food colouring
1 tsp white distilled vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the cream cheese icing:
1 1/2 pounds (3 pkgs, 8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
3 sticks salted butter, softened
1 TBS vanilla extract
6 cups powdered sugar
1 – 3 TBS milk or cream, as needed, to thin consistency
For the cheesecake:
Preheat oven temperature to 500°F. Brush bottom and sides of 9″ springform pan OR 9″ cake pan (regardless of which type of pan is used, pan should have sides at least 2.5″ high) with melted butter. Cut parchment paper circle to fit the bottom of the pan. Place parchment paper circle in pan and brush with more melted butter.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the cream cheese at medium-low speed to break up and soften it slightly, about 1 minute. Scrape the beater and bottom and sides of bowl well with a rubber spatula. Add about half the sugar and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape bowl. Add remaining sugar and beat until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape bowl.
Add sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla, and beat at low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape bowl. Add egg yolks and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape bowl. Add remaining eggs, two at a time, beating until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute, scraping bowl between additions.
Set springform pan onto a rimmed baking sheet to catch any leaks or spills. Pour batter into pan and bake 10 minutes. Without opening the oven door, reduce the oven temperature to 200°F and continue to bake until the cheesecake registers 150°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center, OR the edges have lightly browned and the center two inches are still wobbly, about 75 minutes. (You may need to bake the cheesecake for as long as 90 minutes.)
Transfer cheesecake to a wire rack and immediately run a sharp paring knife around the edges, pressing the knife against the pan rather than the cheesecake. Cool on rack until barely warm, 2 1/2 – 3 hours. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 12 hours or up to 3 – 4 days.
Take plastic wrap from top of cheesecake and set aside upside-down, so that the side that was touching the cheesecake is facing up. Release pan sides. Run bottom of cheesecake, still on springform bottom, over hot stovetop for 10 – 15 seconds. Lay the plastic wrap back onto the top of the cheesecake, and place a large, flat plate over the top of the cheesecake. Carefully flip cheesecake upside down so that the top of the cheesecake is against the plate. Using an extremely sharp knife, loosen cheesecake from springform bottom. (You may have to reheat the bottom of the pan if it is being stubborn.) Flip cheesecake onto serving platter. Remove plastic wrap from top of cheesecake.
For the blue velvet cake:
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Lightly oil and flour, or spray, two 9″ cake pans. Line pans with circles of parchment paper and oil and flour, or spray, the circles. Note: The finished cake is incredibly tender. Lining the pans with parchment paper will ensure that the cakes transfer intact from the pans to a cooling rack.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla. Gently mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined, and a smooth batter is formed.
Divide the cake batter evenly among the prepared pans. Bake until the cake pulls away from the side of the pans, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 25 – 30 minutes.
Immediately run a knife around the edges to loosen the cakes from the sides of the pans.
One at a time, invert the cakes onto a cooling rack. Let cool completely.
For the icing:
Beat cream cheese and butter until well blended; scrape sides of bowl with spatula. Beat in vanilla. Slowly beat in sugar to avoid spatter, then increase speed and beat until well blended and completely smooth and fluffy, scraping bowl as needed. Add milk or cream, 1 TBS at a time, to thin consistency if desired.
Keep cheesecake refrigerated until ready to assemble entire cake. When ready to assemble the entire cake, carefully slice the cheesecake in half horizontally and place the top and bottom halves on separate flat plates, both plates being lined with waxed paper, for temporary holding. Place one of the blue velvet cake layers on a serving plate and top with a generous layer of cream cheese icing. Using a cake lifter (trust me, a cake lifter is incredibly helpful here), place one of the cheesecake layers, flat side up, atop the cream cheese icing. Spread a generous amount of cream cheese icing atop the cheesecake layer and place the second blue velvet cake layer atop the icing. Ice cake layer with a generous layer of cream cheese icing and top cake with the second cheesecake layer, flat side up. Generously ice entire cake with cream cheese icing and decorate as desired.
Slice cake while cold, as it is prone to sliding after the icing warms up. Use only a hot, dry knife to slice cake, wiping knife clean between slices. Allow slices to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes so that the flavor can intensify.
Sources: Cheesecake is from The New Best Recipe by the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated, 2004; blue velvet cake and cream cheese icing are barely adapted from Cakeman Raven Confectionary, New York City, via the Food Network; concept was inspired by Brown Eyed Baker and The Cheesecake Factory