“What is a red velvet cake?” is the question. The answer: “A yellow cake with a hint of cocoa, dyed a deep beautiful red.” Some of you may know red velvet cake as the armadillo cake from the movie Steel Magnolias; others may know it as the best cake they’ve ever tasted! Buttercup staffers describe the icing as somewhere between buttercream and whipped cream. Long beating makes it light and fluffy, and its not-too-sweet flavor makes it a perfect mate for red velvet cake. Read about the search for the origins of red velvet cake.—Jennifer Appel
For the red velvet cake
1/4 cup red food coloring
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda
Red Velvet Icing (recipe below)
For the red velvet icing
2 cups milk
3/8 cup all-purpose flour
1 pound unsalted butter, cold
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Make the red velvet cake
1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and lightly flour three 9- x 2-inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms with waxed paper.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together until well combined the food coloring, cocoa powder, and vanilla. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until very fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add in the eggs one at a time. Add the flour in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk, beating well after each addition. Add in the salt. Beat in the cocoa mixture until thoroughly incorporated. In a small bowl, mix together the vinegar and baking soda. Add to the batter at the end, making sure to mix well.
4. Divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
5. Let cake cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack.
Make the red velvet icing icing
1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk to combine the milk and flour. Stir constantly over medium-high heat until smooth and thick (anywhere from 12 to 18 minutes). Let the mixture cool for at least 50 minutes. When cool, remove the “skin” that has formed at the top and discard.
2. While mixture is cooling, on the medium-high speed of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until quite fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add in the vanilla extract and mix thoroughly. Incorporate the cooled milk mixture in thirds, beating well after each addition.
3. When cake has cooled, ice between the layers, then ice top and sides of cake with red velvet icing.
Recipe © 2001 Jennifer Appel. All rights reserved.