Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Red Velvet Cake - Revisiting my Southern Roots

For me, Red Velvet Cake brings to mind settings like those of Gone With the Wind. While many cakes have southern lineage (we Georgians can make a mean pecan pie) Red Velvet has all the characteristics of southern hospitality and cutlure. This particular cake was for my friend Albert's birthday, and as a Mississippi boy he nearly died at the sight of this cake.

The one thing that always baffles me about this cake is no matter how much red food coloring you use, it never seems to be enough. I used 2 BOTTLES of the stuff and it was still only a dark pinkish color. I would be afraid to use any more than that.

While other frostings can be used, cream cheese is the original and in my opinion the only option for this cake. I've seen a few that have used marshmallow frosting, even one that was a meringue. But the cream cheese lends to the richness, and is vital to this cake.

This recipe come from Bon Appetit, only rather than using berries I just topped it with some almonds. I didn't want to the berries take away from the flavor of the cake itself. I also used WAY more food coloring than this recipe calls for.

Red Velvet Cake
adapted from Bon Appetit


  • 2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (sifted, then measured)
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs


For cake:Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Sift sifted flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into medium bowl. Whisk buttermilk, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla in small bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Beat in dry ingredients in 4 additions alternately with buttermilk mixture in 3 additions.

Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 27 minutes. Cool in pans on racks 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto racks; cool completely.

For frosting:
Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.

Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on platter. Spread 1 cup frosting over top of cake. Arrange 1 basket raspberries and 1/2 basket blueberries atop frosting, pressing lightly to adhere. Top with second cake layer, flat side down. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Arrange remaining berries decoratively over top of cake. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.)

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