I have made and tasted many versions of red velvet cake, but this one stands out as a favorite. I call it "heritage" red velvet because it has been passed down, passed around -and now I'm passing it on to you! This recipe uses butter instead of shortening or oil, and it is bright red as opposed to the usual dark red or brown-red. The soft, moist crumb is the result of a healthy dose of buttermilk in the batter...
... and that is key! You can't make a good red velvet cake without buttermilk.
Before I get to the specifics of the cake, I'd like to share a recent feature. If you follow me on FB, then you have already seen this, so please forgive the repeat.
Sprinkle Bakes is featured in the February/ March issue of Yum Food and Fun magazine. Inside are two familiar SB recipes (plus lots more good lookin' grub!) and a little write up about the blog.
This magazine can be found at grocery stores or at your local book store.
Back to business!
When making red velvet, I always mix the cocoa powder and liquid red food coloring together to form a paste. Doing this seems to evenly disperse the red color when it gets mixed into the batter. If your cocoa is lumpy, mash it into the food coloring with a fork.
For the heart template, trace the bottom of a cake pan on wax paper, cut out the 9" circle. Fold it in half and cut into a heart shape. Lay the paper heart on the cake and trim it down if it doesn't comfortably fit inside the cake's circumference.
Red velvet cake is dense, so it carves easily with a serrated knife. I decided to give this cake a crumb coating (after seeing THIS), but you could certainly leave it frosted white if you wish. To make the crumb coating, crumble the cake scraps with your fingers. Discard any crusty, hard or discolored crumbs. You only want the best and softest crumbs for coating.
The best way I've found to apply the crumbs is to place the frosted cake on a serving platter lined with wax paper strips. Crumb the top of the cake first, then hold the cake - serving platter and all - over the sink and press the crumbs into the sides of the cake. This will be messy, but most of the excess crumbs will fall to the sides of the cake, and a few will fall in the sink. When you remove the wax paper strips most of the excess crumbs will stay on the paper and be removed also. From there you can do a little clean-up around the edges with a damp paper towel.
Heritage Red Velvet Cake [click to print]
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 cups of sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 1/2 tbsp liquid red food coloring
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp cider vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour 2 or 3 round 9" cake pans.
Sift flour and salt together, set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Mix until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Mix well after each addition. Add the flour mixture to the bowl alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Blend in vanilla.
In a small bowl, mix the 1 1/2 tbsp red food coloring and 1 tbsp cocoa powder until a paste forms. Add to the sugar and butter mixture. Mix well. In a small bowl or condiment cup, stir together the baking soda and cider vinegar. This will foam and should be put into the batter immediately after well mixed. After adding the foam mixture, blend on medium-high speed until batter is consistent.
Spoon batter evenly into pans - batter will be very thick! Level top of batter with an offset spatula. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until cake springs back when pressed in the center. Turn out on wire racks and cool completely.
Cream cheese frosting:
2 - 8oz packages of cream cheese, softened
1 cup butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla extract
4-5 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. With the mixer on low, gradually pour in the confectioners' sugar. Increase the speed to high and beat until light and fluffy. If mixture is too thick, add a little milk to loosen it. If it is too thin, add additional powdered sugar or put in the refrigerator to firm up.