I enjoy making special-request cakes for loved ones on their birthdays and was only too happy to make a Red Velvet Cake for my son’s girlfriend when she turned 21. I browsed through several cookbooks looking for a good recipe. My first three attempts were not pretty, but I was determined to create a cake that she would like and I would love. I added strong coffee to this, the last version, and loved how it boosted the chocolate flavor in delicious ways. Now I look for reasons to make this cake! I made it for dessert on Christmas Eve and gussied it up with pomegranate seeds and rosemary sprigs. It was delicious!
While doing research on red velvet cakes, I learned The Adams Extract Company, makers of food coloring and flavor extracts, is credited with making this cake popular during the Great Depression. As a marketing strategy, the company placed point-of-sale tear-off recipe cards under their products on the shelves of grocery stores. Red Velvet was one of the featured cakes. The idea took off from there. Red Velvet Cake became the rage.
Red Velvet Cake
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup canola oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature (not low-fat)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) red food coloring
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
½ cup freshly brewed, plain, warm coffee
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
Mise en Place:
Preheat oven to 350º. Place a cooking rack in the center of the oven.
Prepare Cake Pans with Liners:
Grease two 8 or 9-inch cake pans or a bundt cake pan with cooking spray or butter. Dust insides with flour. Tap pans upside down over a trash can to remove excess flour.
If making a layer cake, line the pans with parchment paper (waxed paper will work) as extra insurance the cake will not stick to the pan. Even when I grease the living daylights out of cake pans, some cakes still want to stick to the bottom. This is one of them. Liners guarantee they will drop out easily.
How to Make Liners for Cake Pans:
Draw an outline of the cake pan on two sheets of parchment. Cut out the paper disks. If you trim to just inside the outline, your disks should fit nicely inside the pans. Place one liner in each pan.
Make the Cake Batter:
Beat together the oil, sugar, and eggs for three minutes on medium speed.
Add the rest of the wet ingredients to the mixing bowl: buttermilk, vanilla, food coloring, vinegar, and coffee. Mix on medium-low speed for one minute. The batter should appear smooth. Beware, any speed higher than medium-low will splatter red batter all over you and your kitchen.
In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients with a whisk: the flour, chocolate, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Spoon one-third of this dry mixture at a time into the mixing bowl and stir on low speed until the flour disappears. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as you mix. Mix until dry ingredients are fully incorporated into the batter.
Place pans on the middle rack of the oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking. Use a knife to check the centers for doneness. If the knife comes out clean, the cake is done. If not, set the timer for five more minutes and recheck. Be sure to test each cake pan. When done, remove pans from oven and cool for 5 minutes.
Run a knife around the edges of the pans to release the cakes from the sides. Turn pans upside down on a wire cooling rack and peel off the parchment paper. Invert cakes and cool to room temperature. Once cool, you could store them in plastic bags until ready to use, or go ahead and frost them.
Butter and Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8-ounce bar cream cheese, softened
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3¾ cups (1 pound box) confectioners’ sugar
2-3 tablespoons whole milk
Add vanilla and beat 30 seconds more. Add milk, one tablespoonful at a time, to thin frosting to desired spreading consistency.
Recently, I needed an elegant cake that would serve 20 people. I decided to make a taller version of my red velvet cake by preparing one and a half cake recipes. This gave me three 9-inch layers. I increased the frosting recipe by half. The cake looked beautiful and regal on the dessert buffet.
Triple Decker Cake Ingredients List
(I’ve done the math for you –and for me)
3¾ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoon baking powder
1½ teaspoon baking soda
4½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups sugar
1½ cup canola oil
3 large eggs, room temperature
1½ cup buttermilk, room temperature (not low-fat)
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1½ ounce red food coloring
1½ teaspoon white distilled vinegar
¾ cup freshly brewed, plain, warm coffee
I LOVE this cake!
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