Southern Red Velvet Cake
We had a wonderfully relaxing July 4th. No running around, no hosting parties, and no huge catering events, just the Evans’ family hanging out. I, of course, had a few, patriotic desserts planned throughout the day which included my Red Velvet layered cake. My girls LOVE this bright red beauty! Watching those little fingers become covered in red cake only seems fit on this holiday. But my Red Velvet cake is perfect all year round. It is not overly heavy and can very easily be summer-ized by adding some coconut or almond flavoring. The littles have grown up on this cake. After all, it has taken me their lifespan to perfect. It seems that this vintage, southern cake has come back around in it’s popularity and has become quite trendy in the younger generations.
I always get requests for my Red Velvet cake recipe whenever I showcase this beauty. It is a classic flavor, but Red Velvet has to hold true to it’s old-fashion ways. I’ve had many Red Velvet cakes and there were only a few that made me say “wow”. This recipe has taken years to perfect and sometimes, I like to add mini chocolate chips to the batter to give a bit more of that chocolate flavor. Your best friends for this recipe are liquid red food coloring, buttermilk, vinegar, and a little bit of cocoa powder. Yes, the red food coloring wasn’t in the early Red Velvet cakes, but it does give this vintage cake it’s distinct flavor. And a lot of people really can’t even tell that there is chocolate in the batter, but yes there definitely is very little in every Red Velvet recipe.
A little history on Red Velvet cake according to Wikipedia: All used red food coloring, but the reaction of acidic vinegar and buttermilk tends to better reveal the red anthocyanin in cocoa and keeps the cake moist, light and fluffy. This natural tinting may have been the source for the name “red velvet” as well as “Devil’s food” and similar names for chocolate cakes. When foods were rationed during World War II, bakers used boiled beet juices to enhance the color of their cakes. Beets are found in some red velvet cake recipes, where they also serve to retain moisture.
Let’s get started. This is my super secret, never given away, Red Velvet Cake recipe
My Southern Red Velvet Cake
Yields: 28 standard cupcakes, 2 6″cakes or 8″ 2 layer cake
For The Cake
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 cups vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs (must be room temp)
1/4 cup liquid red food coloring
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp distilled vinegar
1 cup buttermilk
For The Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 cup salted butter, softened
1 cup cream cheese, softened (8 oz block)
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 tbsp of imitation clear vanilla extract ( I like McCormicks)
7 cups powdered sugar
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees for cupcakes, 350 for cakes. If baking cakes, prepare pans with non stick baking spray with flour or line cupcake pans with paper liners.
2. In a sifter over a dry ingredients bowl, measure with (NO presifting) AP flour. Place in the sifter and add baking soda, salt, cocoa powder. Sift and set aside.
3. In an electric mixer, mix vegetable oil and sugar. (YES, 2 cups and NO it will not be greasy).
4. Add in room temperature eggs, mix until it comes together to form a thick batter.
5. Add red food coloring and vanilla.
6. Mix in vinegar
7. Next alternate dry ingredients with the buttermilk. You MUST mix on lowest setting and when all of the dry ingredients are in and there are still streaks of buttermilk visible, turn off mixer and mix thoroughly by hand. This will ensure your cake will not fall and will not form gluten by over mixing. Be sure to mix all the way to the bottom and everything is incorporated well.
8. Scoop out batter using a 2 tbsp disher for standard cupcakes so they are 2/3rds full and bake 375 for 10-12 minutes. Or pour batter into desired cake pans and bake at 35o until domes on top of cake slightly spring back. Or use toothpick and it should come out clean.
9. Allow to cool 5 minutes in pan and then remove onto a cooling rack.
10. If making a cake, I find it best to freeze cakes in plastic wrap so it is easier to cut evenly for stacking cake. So wrap well and freeze 2 hours. If you made cupcakes, cool and then frost.
11. Make cream cheese frosting while waiting for cake layers to freeze or cupcakes to thoroughly cool.
Cream Cheese Frosting
This will cover one batch of Red Velvet cupcakes or fully fill and frost a 6″ cake with some leftovers. If making a 8″ or larger cake, double frosting.
1. In a mixing bowl, on high combine butter, cream cheese, and vegetable shortening until smooth and creamy.
2. Add in clear vanilla.
3. Slowly stir in one cup at a time of powdered sugar. After all sugar was slowly mixed in, I like to whip it on medium-high about 2 minutes until airy and fluffy.
4. Place in piping bag for frosting cupcakes and filling cakes. Save some in the bowl for frosting sides and top of a cake.
Preparing A Layered Cake:
serrated knife or cake layer cuter
lazy suzan for cake decorating
frosting knife (I like to use straight and bent)
bench scrap for cake sides
1. After removing layers from freezer, place back in appropriate sized pan and use a serrated knife to cut off domed top. Or I have a cake layer cuter from a local cake supply store.
2. I like to use thick cardboard cake boards which you can also pick up at local cake supply shops. Dampen a paper towel with water and lay on lazy suzan. Place cake board on top of wet paper towel.
3. Place a dollop of frosting in the center of cake board and place bottom layer on top. Using a piping bag and leaving 1/2″ outer circle bare fill with frosting in a circular motion.
4. Place middle layer on top and repeat with filling. Be sure to turn your lazy suzan to make it easier on you and make your filling even.
5. Place top layer. We will now crumb coat the cake. This way we won’t get red pieces of cake showing through our white frosting.
6. REMEMBER THE CAKE IS FROZEN AND MAKES IT EASIER TO FROST. Coat the cake in a thin layer of cream cheese frosting and place back in the freezer for about 30 minutes. This makes your crumb coat easy to frost!
7. Remove crumb coated cake from freezer and frost a thicker layer of frosting. Be sure to frost sides first then the top. I like to use a bench scrap tool to frost the sides of my cakes. Wipe frosting knife back into the bowl after every swipe. Plus clean often to get a nice look.
8. Lift cake with cake board off of paper towel and place on cake plate or wherever you desire to serve. ENJOY!
Now, when you leave your slice of cake unattended there is a very good chance the cake fairies will come and make it disappear. So, I highly suggest you either consume your piece very quickly or lock it up! This is what happened when I had to tend to the baby’s diaper! Thanks a lot you little stinkers…