red velvet cake

I rang in my birthday dancing to techno with a gaggle of new girlfriends in the great big shed at the Ballymaloe Litfest. I wore my favorite pastel horsey romper and smelled faintly of Francis Mallman's fire. We laughed, we screamed, we sang. It was nothing like what I'd planned, which was to take a midnight moment by myself in the Castylmartyr gardens with Mahler's Adagietto and layers of fleece and reflection, and then to wake up for an early morning stroll by the ponies and a civilized breakfast on hotel china. Lol. Even though what actually went down on Saturday night came with a gnarly hangover, it was without a doubt one of the best ways I've ever rang in a birthday. I highly recommend it. 

On my birthday I had about six nespressos, a rasher and egg sandwich that was covered in the most beautiful coating of grease, a bite of an apple scone made by Claire, labneh and carrots in the rain, and a cone of pork fat fries covered in rosé vinegar and vodka ketchup. And seaweed! And a Sunday roast with Imen and a side of giggles.

Then there was more techno, like *so much* techno, techno that made me love techno. I slept in all of my clothes and woke up to begin my long journey home, which is where we're at right now (hi from the Minneapolis airport!).

So in other words, this birthday was a very solid 12 out of 10 and I will remember it forever and ever. It included three birthday cakes! (And if Eggboy pulls through with his mission to bake me a yellow cake, it'll be four!) There was a cashel blue cheese cake from sweet Clodagh in a little house by the sea, a fimo clay funfetti cake from jewhungry, and this red velvet cake that I made before I left. I'm going to tell you more about my Ireland trip very soon! But for now let's focus on cake...

question: what's better than a red velvet cake?

answer: a red velvet cake made with coconut oil!

question: what's better than a red velvet cake made with coconut oil?

answer: a red velvet cake made with coconut oil and topped with a marzipan crown 👑 👑 👑 👑 👑 !!

tbh this is a very standard red velvet situation. the only difference between this and other red velvet cakes is that i used coconut oil instead of butter, which when you use unrefined coconut oil, you get a nice hint of coconut flavor tossed into the mix. a great thing! i went with red velvet for my birthday this year as a nod to my birthday cakes of yore, which were bright red, covered in pistachios, and from buca di beppo. i'd have a big slice on my birthday and then smaller slices for breakfast every morning for the rest of the week. this recipe makes a baby 6" cake but if you'd like a larger one, double it and bake it in two 8" pans. yay, happy birthday to me (and my pops)!!! 

red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting

makes one 6" cake



1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tb unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 c coconut oil (unrefined for a hint of coconut flavor, refined for no coconut flavor)
1 c sugar
1 large egg
1 tb red food coloring
1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
1/2 tsp vinegar
1/2 cup buttermilk


4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 c unsalted butter, room temperature
2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
1/8 tsp kosher salt




to make the cake:

preheat the oven to 350ºf. grease two 6" round cake pans and set them aside.

in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder.

in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the coconut oil and sugar until pale and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. add the egg and mix to combine. mix in the food coloring, vanilla, and vinegar. add the dry ingredients and buttermilk in 2-3 alternating additions and beat until just combined. divide the batter between the cake pans, spreading it out evenly, and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. begin checking for doneness at 25 minutes. using a rubber spatula, gently press down the top of the cakes to even them out while they're still hot (this way you won't need to level them). let cool for 10 minutes in their pans and then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.

to make the frosting:

cream together the cream cheese and butter in a stand mixer until combined. mix in the powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt. 

to assemble:

stack up the cooled cake layers with a thick layer of frosting in between. frost all over. top with a marzipan crown, if desired.