Red Velvet Cake – a family recipe

Red Velvet
This is the best red velvet cake I’ve ever tasted.  In general, I am not a fan of cream cheese frosting.  I feel it overwhelms a cake’s delicate flavors and just makes everything taste like cream cheese.  But on a red velvet cake, it’s the only conceivable option.  In fact, I get rather annoyed when bakeries sell red velvet cupcakes with a generic butter cream frosting.  Who are they kidding?  I feel lucky that I ran across this recipe and even MORE lucky that this recipe originates within my own family!  My sweet mother-in-law, Peggy, is the owner of this amazing cake recipe and the first time I had it, I was rather astonished with how perfect it was.  I guess it was one of those instances where I didn’t know what I was missing until I had something  better.  I didn’t know that all this time, I’d been having sub-par red velvet cakes, but when I tasted hers, I knew instantly this was the only recipe I’d ever use for red velvet, ever again!

You may be a little squeamish about using SO MUCH food coloring in this cake, but my thoughts on that are: 1. How often do you eat red velvet cake, anyway? and 2. You only need a small piece of this two-layer, rich cake to feel happy, anyway, and 3. get over it – it’s red velvet cake.  It’s supposed to be red!  If you still can’t take it, I’m pretty sure that someone out there has invented an organic red food coloring made out of beets – just ask Google and let me know how that goes.

My mother-in-law made this on Christmas Eve and I couldn’t help but feel, in that icy cold weather in northern Oklahoma with a fire going in the background, that this cake was extremely wintery and Christmassy.  We enjoyed it with a cup of coffee and the view of the woods covered in a thick layer of ice outside our window.  An experience to remember!  Merry Belated Christmas Cake to you all, and to all, a good night –

slice of red velvet cake
Red Velvet Cake*
makes a 9″-2 layer cake

2 1/2 cups AP flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup whole milk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tablespoon + 1 tsp white vinegar
1 ounce red food coloring

Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray two, 9″ round baking pans with non stick spray and then line the bottoms with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, add the vinegar to the milk and set aside to curdle.  In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients with a whisk until fully blended.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk all the wet ingredients except the food coloring until completely incorporated.  Gently fold in the dry ingredients until just combined, then add red food coloring until desired color.  For full-on red velvet awesomeness, add the entire bottle.  Don’t worry, you’re not eating the whole cake by yourself (I don’t think.)

Pour batter into pans and bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, and then turn out on a cooling rack and let it cool COMPLETELY before assembling with the icing.

Cream Cheese Icing

16 ounces confectioners’ sugar
1 stick softened butter
1 – 8oz package of cream cheese, room temp
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream butter and cream cheese and vanilla together until fluffy.  Add confectioner’s sugar in batches until thick and creamy.  Place one round of cake on a serving tray and spread a thick layer of icing on top.  Then, add the second layer and finish icing the whole cake and let it set, if you can, for at least an hour before cutting and serving.

*I’ve never actually seen Peggy make this cake, but I’ve eaten it several times.  Some of the info is my interpretation from her recipe card that was pretty concise.  The cake instructions literally said, “mix all the ingredients together and bake it for 30 min at 350.  So I added some more detailed instructions 🙂 The part about lining the bottoms of the pans with parchment is all me because I’ve learned the hard way, one too many times with my cakes getting stuck to the bottoms of pans.  But Peg, if you see anything that needs changed, let me know!  

Red Velvet Cake

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