Wednesday, April 28, 2010

red (pink) velvet cake

My friend Heather turned 30+1 last Saturday and she threw herself a rockin' party. There were beers and bbq and beer cricket and a bonny time was had by all. It was not a potluck per se, but rather a skewer bar. Each guest brought an ingredient or two that would grill well when placed on a wooden stick, and it was a huge success.

My task, beyond marinating chicken and zucchini as my skewer contributions was to make the cake. When I asked Heather what her favorite cake flavor was, she proved, once again that she is a woman after my own heart. Red Velvet.

What is it exactly about this brightly-hued cake that makes people (myself included) go gaga?!?! Is it the not-so-natural redness? Is it the not-quite-vanilla, not-quite-chocolate nature of this marvel? Or is it the luscious and very requisite cream cheese frosting that is lathered atop it?

I would have to guess that it's actually these three facets combined into a perfect storm that makes this cake well, dang near perfect.

It turns out that for a time, this type of cake was not so popular. In the 70's people started getting leery of the red dye and stopped eating anything that contained it (including red M&Ms which were taken out of circulation until 1987). But luckily, the scare passed and we are able to enjoy our raunchy red foodstuffs without fear.

Now, my complaint with many a Red Velvet cake is that they don't quite have enough cocoa in them. Now I know, I know that they're only supposed to have a smidge and really only for color, but can one more tablespoon really hurt? I don't think so. I like the extra earthiness that added cocoa gives, so go for it I say. I also think that buttermilk is key in this cake, it just gives it that extra tang.

All in all my cake turned out beautifully, except for one thing...a Red Velvet cake requires a lot of red food coloring. And when I say a lot I mean about two bottles worth...something I did not plan ahead for and found myself with a decidedly pink cake. It turns out that people like pink cakes almost as much as they like red cakes, and some people even preferred knowing that there isn't quite as much red dye no. 5 in their dessert.

pink velvet cake with cream cheese frosting
serves 10-14

3 Tbsp cocoa powder (not dutch processed)
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 lg. eggs @ room temp
1 Tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 Tbsp red food coloring (2-3 Tbsp for RED cake)
12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar

- set oven to 350 degrees and place oven rack in the middle
- grease two 9-inch pans and dust with cocoa powder
- whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl
- in another medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, vinegar, food coloring, cocoa and vanilla
- In a large bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer) beat the butter and sugar on high until fluffy (3-6 min)
- reduce speed and mix in 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by 1/2 of the buttermilk mixture.
- repeat until both are gone
- making sure the batter is thoroughly combined, scrape the batter into both of your pans, leveling them slightly
- Bake the cakes 20-25 minutes, until a knife or toothpick comes out clean
- let the cakes cool slightly and then turn them out onto drying racks.
- cool completely before frosting.

cream cheese frosting
2 8-oz packages of cream cheese
10 Tbsp butter - completely softened (or you'll get little chunks of butter in your frosting)
3 Tbsp sour cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups confectioners sugar

-beat the cream cheese, butter, sour cream and vanilla together until light and fluffy
- increase beater speed and mix in sugar, beat about 5 or 6 minutes
- frost your cake


  1. It was perfect in every way. The size, the color and most definitely the taste! You are a gem, thank you!

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