Southern Red Velvet Cake
Published by Knopf
Gina: Red Velvet Cake is beloved throughout the South. It’s sweet and moist, with a deep-crimson hue that comes from the addition of red food coloring to the cake batter. In the old days, folks used beets or red cabbage to dye their cakes! Red Velvet is a buttermilk cake, which is one of the reasons it’s so moist; there’s also cocoa in the batter, which is one of the reasons it’s popular with children (that, and the traditional cream-cheese frosting). It’s red and white, but it tastes black and white, and it’s always a stunner when you cut into one. Making someone a layer cake is an investment. It takes time, hon. But it’s also a beautiful, loving gesture, and nicer than any present you can buy. This sexy cake is easier than you might think to assemble, and the results are sure to steal the show at any party.
Make Ahead RecipeYes
OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party, Family Get-together
Taste and TextureChocolatey, Creamy, Rich, Sweet
Type of DishCake
- Nonstick vegetable cooking spray, for pans
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
- 5 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3 cups sugar
- 3 cups canola oil
- 4 large eggs
- 4 tablespoons red food coloring (one 2-ounce bottle)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 5 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
- Three 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
- 5 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
- 1½ cups unsalted butter, softened
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Cake
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously spray three 9 × 2-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray, and line with parchment paper. Spray the lining; dust with cocoa, tapping out any excess. Set aside. Whisk together the flour, salt, and cocoa in a medium bowl; set aside.
Mix the sugar and oil at medium speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time; mix well after each addition. Mix in the food coloring and vanilla. Add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of bowl as needed.
Stir together the baking soda and vinegar in a small nonreactive bowl. Add the baking-soda mixture to the batter, and mix at medium speed for 10 seconds. Divide the batter equally among the pans. Tap the pans on the counter to remove bubbles. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool the pans on a rack for 5 minutes. Invert the cakes onto wire racks to cool completely.
For the Frosting
In a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a handheld electric mixer in a large bowl, mix the cream cheese and butter at low speed until incorporated. Add the sugar and vanilla. Increase the speed to high, and mix until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
Store in the refrigerator before using, until it is somewhat stiff, about 15 minutes. The frosting may be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days.
To assemble: Place one layer top-side down on a cake stand. Using an offset spatula, spread with a ¼-inch-thick layer of frosting. Repeat with the remaining layers. To frost the top and sides of the cake, work from the center toward and over the edge, making sure to coat evenly. The cake can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
2009 Patrick Neely and Gina Neely