There is nothing quite like a Red Velvet Cake for dramatic appeal. Look at it, it's gorgeous, not the one I baked necessarily, but any red velvet cake. What other cake can really compete with that on just a looks alone basis, especially for holidays like Christmas and Valentine's Day when red is 'the color'. Red Velvet has become so popular in recent years though that it is being made all year round. It has been used for groom's cakes for a long time now...remember the armadillo in "Steel Magnolias", but is also a flavor used for the wedding cake or at least a layer of it, now. The rise of all of the gourmet cupcake shops has really advanced the popularity of red velvet also. It's a proven fact that red stimulates appetite so no wonder Red Velvet is so popular!
There is some debate about the frosting for a the Red Velvet Cake, some say it has to be butter cream, others say cream cheese. If you have followed this site for long, like you have read more than two recipes, you know already which team I am on...lol. People probably think I work for the makers of Philadelphia cream cheese! I don't, by the way, in case you have wondered.
Now, to make a good red velvet cake, is another issue. There are recipes galore for red velvet cake out there. Are there good recipes galore? Not really. For some reason and I have my theories, red velvet cake can be very dry and tasteless. And sometimes, the prettier it is, the more dry and tasteless it is. That is always such a disappointment. What good is a pretty cake if it tastes like it was baked two weeks ago? I have tried several recipes and I have had good results and not so good results, but this recipe is the best that I have come up with. It's moist and it's still pretty and it stacks and frosts well. Here is what you will need for this Red Velvet Cake:
1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tbs. powdered cocoa
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 oz. bottle of red food coloring
Cream Cheese Frosting
2 (8 oz.) blocks of cream cheese (softened)
1 stick of butter, softened (1/2 cup)
2 lbs. confectioners sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream butter, shortening and sugar together until fluffy with electric mixer. Add eggs one at a time.
In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa. Add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk alternating a little of each at a time and mixing after each addition. When it's mixed well (don't over mix), add the vinegar, vanilla and red food color. Mix just until the food coloring is evenly distributed. You don't need to beat this on high, but mix as much as needed to get it all red. If you over mix it, the cake will be dry. See how it looks here. It gets darker when it is baked.
Prepare 3 9 inch cake pans by cutting a circle of wax paper or parchment paper to fit in the bottom of each one and then spraying it liberally with nonstick baking spray. This cake has a tendency to stick, but if you use the paper it will come out fine.
Place in the oven for 30-35 minutes. A pick inserted in the center should come out clean. Remove from oven and cool for about 30 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cakes to loosen and then they will turn out.
To make the cream cheese frosting, cream the cream cheese and the butter together with an electric mixer, until fluffy. Slowly add in the sugar until well incorporated. Add the vanilla. I doubled the usually amount of frosting called for in most of the recipes for red velvet cake, because this is a 3 layer cake and the lesser amount is really skimpy to cover it all. You might not need all of the frosting, but half of it is not enough. Save the leftover for up to 10 days and use it cupcakes or cookies.
Lay the first layer down, with the flat side up on your cake plate. You can keep your cake plate cleaner if you place a little wax paper just barely under the edges of the cake. When you have finished frosting, gently pull the paper out and voila...clean all the way around. I am not a neat when it comes to frosting a cake so this really helps me.
Proceed with the other two layers and then finish your sides.
Southern Red Velvet Cake!