Red Velvet Cake
Red velvet cake has always been a favorite for me. It is the last birthday cake that I made my best friend, and there is a lot of memories in that. I actually have not made it since that time until today. It was a nice way to bring back that memory. Food equals memories, and this recipe is certainly no exception to that.
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My favorite thing about this recipe is that it is actually really simple. I am always a bit amazed by that. That something that simple can taste so delicious. I am not the most elaborate baker in the world, and this cake plays to my strengths in the baking department.
Red Velvet Cake History
Velvet cakes have been made since the victorian era and the use of cocoa powder softens the flour and gives the cake a finer and smoother texture. It is very similar to a crumb cake.
Red velvet cakes specifically are said to have gained popularity around World War II when people would use beet juice in these cakes. Because pantry staples like sugar and butter were being rationed, many bakers were adding beets and beet juice. This gave the cakes the red color, and it also acted as a filler and moisturizer to keep the cakes from drying out.
If you’ve ever read my zucchini chocolate chip cookie recipe, I use the zucchini for the exact same purpose. To add moisture to the cookies. Who wants dry cookies or cake? Yuck!
Red Velvet Cake Ingredients
1 ½ cups sugar
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cocoa powder (Original recipe calls for one, but I like a little extra)
1 ½ cups vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) red food coloring
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Red Velvet Cake Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray three 9 inch cake pans with a non-stick flour cooking spray. I personally like Pam with flour. My husband calls it Spam as a joke.
In a mixing bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. All of the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar and vanilla.
Using a stand mixer, mix the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined and a smooth batter has formed. I mixed all the wet ingredients until incorporated, and then slowly started adding in the dry ingredients.
Divide the cake batter evenly among the three pans and put them in the oven. If you are not good at dividing the cake batter evenly, you can weight it. This gives a much more precise division. I’m happy eyeballing it, but if you’re a perfectionist, weighing is the way to go. Bake until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. This should be about 30 minutes.
Time To Cool the Red Velvet Cakes!
Remove the cakes from the pans and place on a cooling rack and let them cool completely. Removing them immediately from the cake pans is important because the edges will become overcooked and crispy if you don’t. Cooling completely is also important because the frosting will melt if the cakes are still warm.
Ready to Frost!
Once cooled the cake can be frosted. See the frosting recipe and directions below. Spread evenly around each layer of the cake. Use the remaining frosting on the outside of the cake and then garnish with crushed pecans. A great way to crush them up is put the pecans in a food processor and pulse until they are a finer or smaller consistency.
1 pound (16 ounces/2 packages) cream cheese
4 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I use closer to 2, but that is just me)
Crushed pecans for garnish (optional)
In a stand mixer mix the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and butter on a low speed until incorporated together. Increase the speed to high and mix until light and fluffy. This takes approximately 5 minutes. It is important that during this step to stop the mixer periodically and scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and keep everything mixing smoothly.
Chill in the refrigerator until somewhat solid before using. The frosting may be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days.
The great thing about the frosting recipe is that it can be used on any cake. I’ve saved and used it many times over. It is just that amazing.
The crushed pecans can be omitted if someone has nut allergies, or just doesn’t like them. I tend to forget about them, but they do make the cake look prettier.
As I said earlier, make sure to take the cakes out of the pans immediately. Otherwise if left in the pans, they continue to cook and the outside becomes very overdone. Nothing worse than crunchy cake, if you ask me. Last night Nathan used a plate. Put a plate over the cake pan, flip them both so the plate is on the bottom. The cake should come out very easily. From there the cake can be transferred to the cooling rack. This was much easier than trying to flip over a hot cake pan while wearing oven mitts.
In the frosting I use a little more vanilla than the original recipe calls for, but I like vanilla. Using two teaspoons is perfect for me. Nathan also enjoys it this way too. I’ve tried it both ways, and 2 teaspoons is my preference. Just adds a bit more depth to it, and also takes away from feeling too sugary.
I hope you enjoy this red velvet cake recipe as much as I do! If you’ve made this, please feel free to let me know what you thought of it in the comments. I always enjoy hearing about your experience. Check out my other dessert recipes!
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