Monday, November 12, 2012

The Search for the Perfect Red Velvet Cake

Now, let me start by saying, I'm a Yankee. Born and bred and from WAYYY back. Had never even heard of red velvet cake until I made friends with a woman in Alabama.  She spoke of a cake so moist, so luscious...quite frankly, she made it sound pornographic.

I had to have that cake.

She said she bought it from an old grandmother, who wouldn't give up her family recipe but it used an obscene amount of eggs, was heavier than guilt, and absolutely decadent.

Of course, the first thing I tried was the box version. I readily admit, while I love to cook, I'm not really fond of baking. It was dry, rather tasteless, and far as I could decide, a complete waste of sugar intake.

Strike one.

So, I went to my cookbooks. I tried a Betty Crocker recipe, I tried, I hate to say, Paula Deen's recipe (you let me down, Paula!) I was so sure her southern recipe would be 'it'.

Well, as it happens, My daughter's 16th birthday was this weekend.  We have a few birthday traditions; Daddy always gets the girls roses for their birthday (a rose for each year).  The girls get to pick their favorite dinner. And most importantly, they get to pick their favorite cake.

And of course, she chose red velvet.  I sat there, looking at my ingredients on the counter, afraid to be disappointed once again.

I mentioned this to a Texan friend, Liana...who very excitedly said she had just found what sounded like the most perfect recipe

I'm desperate, so say email it over.

Made it up, amazed it took (get this) TWO whole bottles of red food dye. It made beautiful ribbony batter...weighed each pan, trying to make sure they were roughly the same amount, and each was well over two pounds each.

I was starting to feel a bit hopeful.

They baked lovely. Came out of their pans without breaking (I always found this happens when the cake is too dry.) They frosted without crumbing up, and all in all, were just a pleasure.

But I still hadn't cut into it, or tried it.

(Okay, my cake decorating skills need work. )

We sang happy birthday, blew out the candles, and cut the cake.

The insides were lusciously moist, red-chocolatey goodness. This is the cake my Alabama friend sang high praises for, and felt so badly that I had never tasted a piece of heaven.

Red Velvet Cake

2-1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
2 cups Sugar
2 Tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
3 whole Large Eggs
1-1/2 cups Grapeseed Oil (Now I don't know the importance of this...but I did NOT substitute.)
1 cup Buttermilk (I often substitute the vinegar in milk? Don't...It really makes a difference!)
1 tablespoon White Vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 ounces Red Food Coloring (usually it comes in one ounce bottles, so be prepared to buy 2!)


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line, spray and flour two 9 inch cake pans. Set those aside.
Lightly beat the eggs with a whisk and then add in the oil, buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla and food coloring. Whisk together until combined.
In the bowl of your mixer, stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt.
Add the wet ingredients into the dry and mix on medium until combined, scraping the bottom of the bowl once or twice.
Use a kitchen scale and wiegh, or use a measuring cup to divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester (toothpick is fine) is inserted and comes out clean. Depending on your oven, you might want to rotate the pans for even baking. (If you the choice to use convection, I would. It bakes more evenly.)
Run a knife along the edges while still hot. This will make it easier to remove from the pans. Let the cakes cool for 10 minutes in the pans (!) before removing them to a wire rack.
Once the cake cools it's time to frost.

(This recipe has been modified from Simply Scratch: which also has pictorial directions)

The frosting is a cream cheese frosting. Now if you like REALLY sweet frosting, follow the recipe as it stands...If you're like me, you want to taste the creaminess of the frosting.  My next one I will be cutting the sugar down significantly.

Frosting: (the original creator gave directions for a double batch, in case you like to crumb coat first.  I made it any way, as its good for other things!)

2 packages Cream Cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup {1 stick} Unsalted Butter, softened to room temperature
2 teaspoons of Real Vanilla Extract
8 cups Powdered Sugar (I plan on cutting this down to at least 6 cups.)


1 comment:

  1. Made another just before Christmas, with only 5 cups of sugar. Had plenty of frosting to cover the cake, and you could taste the creaminess of the cream cheese, without it being overwhelmed by the sugar.