When I first heard of the Red Velvet Cake, I craved for it immediately, even without knowing what it looked like or what went into it’s making. Such was the charisma of the name that it had me enchanted the first time and continues to do so. Very crudely speaking, it is a lovely yellow cake, spiked with chocolate powder to give it some intensity and dyed a deep red to give it the allure. With it’s smooth taste and texture and it’s red color, it was aptly named Red Velvet Cake. And while the debate on it’s origin is still on, it’s primarily seen as a southern (i.e. Southern part of USA) classic.
As an ode to my southern American ‘roots’ I decided to bake a fancy Red Velvet Cake. I juggled a lot between making the original version with a cream cheese frosting Vs skipping the frosting for the sake of calorie control and am proud to report that this was one of those rare times when I actully resisted the goodies :D. So plain red velvet cake and no frosting was the name of the game.
When in doubt, go with the tried and tasted. And hence I took a peek at this cakebook I had borrowed from a friend. It’s called The ButterCup Bake Shop CookBook by Jennifer Appel. She had a wonderful red velvet cake in her book which was what I was looking for. And knowing that the recipe was by the founder of The Magnolia Bakery in Greenwich Village and The ButterCup Bake Shop in Midtown Manhattan, I did not even have to think about it’s resounding success. And succeed it did, even though I adapted a couple of ingredients out of necessity (but making sure I still had the closest substitute). This makes 3 pieces of 9″x2″ cakes, baked separately.
For the Cake:
1/4 cup red food coloring
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 1/4 cups cake flour (If you don’t have cake flour you can substitute it with a mixture of all purpose flour and cornstarch. Use 3/4 cup of all purpose flour + 2 tbsp cornstarch for every cup of cake flour. And if you have no way to get cornstarch, then go ahead and use all purpose flour but only 2 cups. Even then, know that the cake will have a denser and less moist texture)
1 cup buttermilk (If u don’t have buttermilk handy like me, then this is what you do. Take a cup of wholemilk and add 1 tbsp of white vinegar in it. Let the mixture stand in room temp for 10-15 mins, undisturbed. Your buttermilk’s ready. Stir it and use it as needed)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vinegar (preferably apple cider one but I had white vinegar and used that)
1 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Spray three 9- x 2-inch round cake pans with baking spray (or grease and flour them separately), then line the bottoms with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, whisk together the food coloring, cocoa powder, and vanilla till mixed well. Set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar on medium speed in an electric mixer until very fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add in the eggs one at a time. Add the flour in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk, beating well after each addition. Add in the salt. Beat in the cocoa mixture until thoroughly incorporated. In a small bowl, mix together the vinegar and baking soda. Add to the batter at the end, making sure to mix well.
Divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Let cake cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack.
And since it is sacriligeous to skip the cream cheese frosting, I promise you I will come up with a cream cheese frosting recipe for this glamorous cake very soon. Till then, Bon Appetit 😀
Update: Here is the cream cheese recipe I promised. Enjoy and leave a word if you liked it.