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Red Velvet Cake

I am looking for a reasonably easy version of this cake. Many years ago I made one from Cooking Light that was quite good, but I can't find it now and the one I find online is raspberry red velvet, not my bag. Anyone got a solid one?

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  1. Had it handy..enjoy!

    1/2 cup shortening
    1 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
    2 eggs
    2 oz. red food coloring
    1 tsp. vanilla
    1 tsp. salt
    1 cup buttermilk
    2 1/2 cup cake flour
    1 tsp. baking soda
    1 tsp. vinegar
    2 tsp. cocoa

    Mix vinegar and soda in small cup and let set. Cream shortening and sugar, then add eggs. Make paste of cocoa and a little of the red food coloring. Add to creamed mixture. Add rest of coloring. Add buttermilk, salt, and flour alternately. Add vanilla, lastly add well stirred vinegar and soda. Mix well. Pour into two 8-inch layer pans. Bake 350F for 30 minutes. Cool thoroughly and split layers in half crosswise-making 4 thin layers. Frost as desired.

    Cream Cheese Frosting

    1 cup confectioners sugar
    1/2 cup butter
    16 oz pkg cream cheese
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    1/3 cup light cream

    With an electric mixer; beat until light and fluffy. Spread on cake.

    2 Replies
    1. re: HillJ

      thanks, this is super helpful. Any memory of how to make regular flour into cake flour? I may have it somewhere, but I can't remember.

      1. re: AliceS

        I sub AP flour, sifted, for cake flour.

    2. To substitute cake flour for all-purpose flour use 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour for every cup of all-purpose flour. Make your own - one cup sifted cake flour can be substituted with 3/4 cup (84 grams) sifted bleached all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons (15 grams) cornstarch.

      Source: http://www.joyofbaking.com/flour.html

      I remember making that Cooking Light Red Velvet Cake for a co-worker's last day. On that day, I lugged the cake (unassembled) into Boston on the commuter train, carried it the mile or so from the train station to our office, assembled and frosted it at my desk. Early in the day, said co-worker became violently ill (before eating the cake) and his wife had to come into the city to pick him up and take a cab home. After he left, we all ate the cake. His loss!

      I haven't made it since. Maybe I should try again!

      1. Alice S, the very best red velvet cake I ever had was at The Bubble Room on Captiva Island in Florida. This is purported to be the recipe and I've made it quite often and it always comes out great. I use a cream cheese frosting as they do and which we love but if you don't like that you can use another you prefer. Here ya go.

        For Cake:
        3 3/4 cup self-rising flour
        2 1/4 c. sugar
        1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
        3 eggs
        1 1/2 tsp cocoa
        1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
        1 1/2 tsp vinegar
        2 1/4 c. vegetable oil
        1 1/2c. buttermilk
        1/3 cup red food coloring (about three 1 oz. bottles - this is NOT a typo)

        Preheat oven to 350 degrees
        Sift together dry ingredients in a bowl.
        Mix wet ingredients in a bowl (vinegar, oil, buttermilk, vanilla and food coloring)
        Slowly add dry into wet and mix well
        Spoon batter into three greased and floured cake pans
        Bake 45-60 minutes or until layers pull away from the sides of the pans. (NOTE: I start checking at 40 minutes and keep checking every five minutes or so. You probably won't need more than 45 minutes max, maybe a little less)
        After cooling in pans approximately 10 minutes, remove layers to wire racks to cool completely.

        For Cream Cheese Frosting:

        1 lb. cream cheese, softened
        2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup) softened
        4 cups sifted confectioners sugar
        1 tsp. vanilla extract (I use two tsp. or more as prefer a stronger vanilla flavor to the frosting)

        In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or with a hand--held electric mixer in a large bowl mix the cream cheese, sugar and butter on low speed until inorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until light and fluffy - about five mins. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low, add the vanilla, raise the speed to high and mix briefly. Refrigerate until somewhat stiff before using.

        You can, if you like, add toasted pecan bits to the frosting you use between the layers. It adds a nice component.

        If you make this recipe, please post your feedback.

        1. No offense intended here but can someone please explain the allure of Red Velvet Cake? It just doesn't seem to be anything I'd every want to eat. Or is this just me? I don't know - all that red food colouring...I'm not a health freak, but it just seems icky. What am I missing?

          1 Reply
          1. re: Nyleve

            It's an incredibly moist cake with an indefinable taste. You could certainly leave out the food coloring if that bothers you and, I'd guess, add another three ounces of a liquid to compensate for its omission. The cake is faintly chocolate but not really, slightly vanilla but not really. It's really, I suppose, a buttermilk cake. Before I'd ever had it I felt the same as you. I'm from NY so pre-Magnolia bakery and southern food trends it wasn't widely known. I'm not even a cake person - not many cakes ever impressed and some totally bored me. However, the red velvet is a thing of its own. Try it sometime - but only a good one - and then perhaps you may become a convert. By the way, my entire family and everyone I've ever made it for were totally bowled over by it.

          2. I don't get the allure either. It's basically vanilla cake with red food coloring to me.

            6 Replies
            1. re: david t.

              It isn't vanilla cake it is chocolate cake with red food coloring and buttermilk.

              1. re: foodieB

                I don't know - looking at the two recipes on this thread, one of them contains 1-1/2 tsp. of cocoa, the other contains 2 tsp. cocoa. Not what I would really classify as a chocolate cake at all. I understand that this cake is somehow a classic, so I don't wish to be disrespectful of its historic value. But still...

                1. re: Nyleve

                  I've always wondered the same thing. It just looks so...carcinogenic. Added to that, my daughter is allergic to red food dye. For those who've had it, if it weren't red, how does it compare to regular cake?

                  1. re: chowser

                    It does nothing for me either, other than remind me of happy childhood experiments that involved dumping food coloring in waffles for a swirling effect. Food coloring *does* have a taste.
                    Barely perceptable, and not one I recommend.

                2. re: foodieB

                  The recipe I've used have called for apple cider vinegar which gives it a very nice, subtle flavor. This is a recipe from "Chocolate Cakes" by someone named Urvader, I think. It's definitely a chocolate cake in this book.

                  1. re: raj1

                    Was it Michelle Urvater raj1? The name is familiar and I think she used to have a show on Food Network years ago for whatever that is or isn't worth. Anyway, whether her red velvet recipe is for a chocolate cake or not, Red Velvet is not supposed to be a chocolate cake that is why the vast majority of recipes call for only very tiny amounts of cocoa.

              2. We started making RVC for Valentine's Day. There are so many recipes for it, with only a slight variation on ingredients.

                The first red slice to a newcomer always brings ooohs & ahhs! As cakes go it may not be a top contender but for shear "personality" value a RED cake on Valentine's Day is a big hit.

                8 Replies
                1. re: HillJ

                  Yes it does. Did one last year for Valentine's Day too. You can of course custom color for various holidays - red, white and blue 4th of July and red and green for xmas, orange for halloween, etc. Just that some colors are "less palatable" than others and so I haven't done this yet.

                  Have your ever made without the coloring? What liquid can be added to account for the three oz. coloring? Would more buttermilk mess up the chemistry?

                  And actually, we love the taste and texture of this cake so personality aside, still love it.

                  1. re: laylag

                    I haven't tried RVC w/out the red food coloring because for me its all about using the RED for Valentine's day (grin) but I do use a red coloring paste not liquid that I purchase from my local chocolate shop.

                    I would not change the recipe "chemistry" with buttermilk. If anything I would head in the direction of more cocoa/more of a chocolate dense cake.

                    But if you do experiment, post your results here, I would be curious to learn more.

                    1. re: HillJ

                      I bought some beet powder which I intend to use in an attempt to make a red velvet cake for a co-worker's birthday...without the scary food coloring.

                      Has anybody ever done that? I assume I will replace some of the flour w/ the beet powder and add some more b-milk in place of the liquid food color.

                      I'm not a fan of red velvet, but I think the allure is the interesting texture caused by the addition of the fizzy vinegar/soda mixture.

                      1. re: danna

                        danna, I can't say that I've worked with beet powder but I would be very interested to know how your cake turns out! Where did you purchase beet powder and how is it stored? Shelf life? What other recipes have you used beet powder in?

                        1. re: HillJ

                          I bought it at a health food/gourmet store called Greenlife. In the section where they have spices and herbs and teas and the like in jars to sell by weight. It is currently stored in a plastic bag, and I have no idea what the shelf life is. I hope it's long, though, because I bought it last year and for a long, boring reason, I could not make the co-worker's cake last year, so it wil be this summer before I try it.

                          Laylag, then perhaps just water? I assume that's the base of the food coloring.

                          1. re: danna

                            Danna, I think maybe water can work out. I'm actually not sure wha what the base of the food coloring is but likely water since when the liquids are combined in the recipe I use, the addition of the food coloring seperates from the oil as water would.

                        2. re: danna

                          danna, as hillj replied to me, we fear the additional buttermilk would mess up the chemistry. The buttermilk, vinegar and baking soda combine to create a chemical reaction which results in the texture that makes this cake so special. I'd be cautious with adding extra buttermilk.

                          Also, I don't know where you are or if you have a professional, chef supply type store near you but they often sell substitutes for standard food dye.

                          1. re: danna

                            Danna -- I want to try something similar soon, did you ever wind up making this cake, and if so, how did it turn out with beet replacing the dye?

                    2. i'm pretty sure you can buy a liquid natural red food coloring (made from beets) at wholefoods market or any natural market that will work fine. it might not be as deep of a red though.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: n.cole

                        I tried those years ago, so they might have changed since, but I couldn't get a deep red (tried a ladybug cake). Plus, you could taste it. It's been the only frosting I've made where kids didn't eat it.

                      2. There's a great article and accompanying recipe about red velvet cake in today's NY Times. Interesting speculation about the origin and use of gobs of dye.