RECIPE: Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

This cake is a beauty when it is finished. My sister and I have debated what exactly red velvet cake is-she thinks the name is deceiving and doesn't get the almost cult following for this cake. I love the contrast of the deep red color of the cake with the white of the frosting. I also love the buttery, velvet texture of this cake. What I do know is when I make this cake for guests, it is gobbled up in seconds. This recipe is different from others I have looked at because the color is a deep red-versus other ones that come out more pink. I think it is on account of the cocoa and 2 whole oz. of red food coloring mixed together before going in the batter. The combination of the buttermilk and vinegar helps give the velvet texture (vinegar relaxes gluten in flour) as well as an ever so slight tang to the cake. I bake the cake the night before and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. I then make the frosting and assemble it the next day and serve that night. Cakes take time, but they are worth it.

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 stick of butter, softened
2 eggs
2 oz. red food coloring (don't skimp)
2 heaping Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 350˚. Use baking spray and spray 3 9" cake pans, and then tap
some flour in them to coat lightly.

In a bowl, mix flour and salt, set aside. In a large bowl, use your electric mixer
to cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat well.

In a large glass measuring cup, mix the red food coloring with the cocoa.

Add to the creamed mixture while the mixer is going. In that same glass
measuring cup, add the buttermilk. There will be red food coloring left
over in the glass, and mix it in with the buttermilk so you use every drop.

Add the buttermilk alternately with the flour mixture to the butter. Be
careful not to over mix. I stop the mixer often and use a spatula to work
the sides in as I add the ingredients-over mixing can toughen your cake.
After the batter is smooth and combined, take the bowl off the mixer,
and stir in the vanilla with a spatula. In a small bowl, add baking soda
and vinegar. This will foam. Stir vinegar mixture into batter, careful
not to over mix.

Pour batter evenly into three pans and bake on the middle rack for
25-30 minutes, or until wooden toothpick come out clean. Cool cakes
on a wire rack for ten minutes, then invert them out on the racks to
cool completely.

Fill and frost the cake with cream cheese frosting. (When frosting,
it is important with this cake to do a "crumb layer" of frosting
because the red cake is so conspicuous against the white. The thin
layer of frosting traps all the crumbs, enabling you to have a clean,
white, frosted cake at the finish.)

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz. cream cheese, softened at room temp.
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp. milk

Whip cream cheese and butter together until light and fluffy. Add
vanilla and continue beating. Turn mixer to low and add powdered
sugar by first adding 2 cups and mixing. Then add milk, and then add
the rest of the powdered sugar. When sugar is all combined, beat on
high again to get a lot of air and lightness into the frosting for a couple
of minutes. Fills and frosts one 3 layer, 9 inch cake.


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