Ahh…. Red Velvet Cake. What a fantastic challenge! The first time I ever tasted Red Velvet Cake was six years ago at Regas Restaurant in Knoxville, Tennessee. I was reluctant to try a nibble after I was told the cake was made with cocoa and the frosting made with cream cheese. Cocoa and cream cheese = icky. However, after my mother-in-law convinced me to take a bite of her piece, I ordered a ginormous piece of my own. It was SO stinkin’ good!
My husband and I eat Red Velvet Cake on special occasions: birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, Fridays, etc. It is our most favorite cake in the whole wide world. The one time I attempted to make my own cake, I used mix from a box and it came out very dry. I also attempted a cream cheese frosting that turned out too runny and a bit sour. Since then I’ve only partaken in the eating of the cake, and not the baking.
For my fourth Yankee Challenge, I turned to Paula Deen (Southern Food Queen) for some assistance. I figured that one of the country’s most renowned Southern Kitchen Queens would have a recipe for a Red Velvet Cake that I could follow.
I printed out the recipe and started to make my shopping list. Cake flour, a whole bottle of food coloring, eggs, cocoa, vinegar, baking soda, salt, sugar, butter, and buttermilk?? Wait a second… a cake that has VINEGAR in it?! Gross…
After my trip to the grocery store, I laid out my ingredients and got to work. I don’t own a big fancy shmancy Kitchen Aid Mixer, so I had to use a hand mixer. Talk about a disaster. My hand mixer has a serious amount of power even at the lowest level and when I went to cream the butter and sugar, I ended up with a good amount of buttery sugar mess all over my counter, on my face, and in my hair. Good thing it tasted yummy.
The next exciting moment occurred when I had to add the red cocoa powder in with the fluffy butter/egg/sugar mixture. Somehow I got a bit of red chocolate paste on my fingers and then proceeded to scratch my leg under my white dress and well, I bet you can guess what happened. Needless to say I have to pick up some bleach. What kind of fool makes Red Velvet Cake while wearing a white dress? Fast forward to the part when you mix the baking soda and vinegar together. That was exciting! I forgot that when you combine baking soda and vinegar it sizzles and bubbles like crazy. Do you know why the baking soda and vinegar are key to a tasty Red Velvet Cake? Vinegar (acetic acid) + Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate) = CO2 (carbon dioxide gas) In plain English: Gas is what causes the cake to rise.When I folded the baking soda/vinegar into the cake batter, I noticed a change almost immediately. The texture was smoother and the batter seemed lighter. I poured it into my cake pans (greased with Crisco and dusted with cake flour) and baked the red beauties for 30 minutes.
After the cakes cooled, I layered them on my gorgeous glass cake stand and got to work on my frosting. I doubled the recipe Mrs. Deen uses (my alterations have been made to the recipe below) and added vanilla extract. My frosting was fluffy, creamy, and oh-so-tasty. As I plopped the frosting on top of my cake, I realized I’d made my first Yankee Challenge error ever. I stacked the cakes on top of one another before adding a layer of frosting in-between. The cakes were so moist that they were stuck together, so I couldn’t repair my boo-boo. Thankfully, my hungry cake-eating-friends said they didn’t even notice the missing frosting layer. I added blue sprinkles and blueberries to the top of my cake in honor of the Fourth of July holiday, and I must say that they were a nice addition. Everyone that was lucky enough to get a piece said that the cake was “decadently delicious“. My first Red Velvet Cake from scratch will not be my last. Now that I know it’s not too hard to make, I will save my money by baking my own.
Grandmother Paula’s Red Velvet Cake
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter at room temperature
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 2 ounces red food coloring
- 2 1/2 cups cake flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 1 (12-ounce) package cream cheese
- 2 sticks butter softened
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, cream the sugar and butter, beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition. Mix cocoa and food coloring together and then add to sugar mixture; mix well. Sift together flour and salt. Add flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Blend in vanilla. In a small bowl, combine baking soda and vinegar and add to mixture. Pour batter into 2 (8-inch) round greased and floured pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from heat and cool completely before frosting.
Blend ingredients together in a mixing bowl.
*Recipe modified by Paula Deen located here