I do hope you have been trying out my recipes and enjoying them as much as I do over the past few weeks since the inception of this blog. The yellow cake, chocolate cake, and carrot cake are very useful recipes to have as a baker.
This week, we move on to another essential in a baker’s repertoire – the red velvet cake. This cake, its origins shrouded in mystery, is quite unlike any other cake. Its name comes from the color the cake would turn when the acidic ingredients reacted with the cocoa. Specifically, the pigment in cocoa, anthocyanin reacts to the buttermilk and vinegar, which are acids present in red velvet cake, making the cake red in hue.
As you have probably gathered, today’s red velvet cakes are a lot redder than this chemical reaction would likely yield. This is due to the addition of food coloring whether being liquid, gel, powder, or natural. Natural coloring comes in the form of beets, usually. The three other coloring types – liquid, gel, and powder are varied in their uses as well as their effectiveness. On my Tips & Techniques page, you can find out their difference as well as some appropriate uses for each. In this recipe, we’ll be using gel food coloring.
Red velvet gets its flavors from the small amount of cocoa powder, buttermilk and vinegar (both imparting tartness), and the vanilla extract used. Because only minor doses of cocoa are used, the flavor is a very light chocolate that balances beautifully with the vanilla. It’s not quite chocolate cake, but on its way to being one, I’d say. The cake flour generally used in red velvet recipes holds these flavors in a fluffy, pillow-like matrix. It’s luxurious and light all at once and pairs traditionally with an amazing (and updated!!) cooked flour frosting that is not too sweet, but creamy and lush.
Contrary to popular conjecture, the traditional frosting of red velvet cakes is not cream cheese frosting but rather this cooked flour frosting. I find it to be more suitable as well. This frosting is created by making a slurry of flour and milk that is cooked over a stove until it thickens. Once cooled, it is thoroughly beaten with butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy. If you haven’t tried it, it tastes like a buttery whipped cream only with more oomph. It’s also a great consistency for spreading or piping. And it fits perfectly with red velvet – a light frosting for a lightly flavored cake. I used to enjoy cream cheese frosting with red velvet cake, but once I started using the cooked frosting, I can plainly see the difference and I will never go back. Cream cheese frosting is too heavy for red velvet and it overpowers the cake’s gentle flavors. So please do try the cooked flour frosting. It’s easy to prepare and it’s the perfect fit.
Traditional Red Velvet CakeRecipe by: Leelabean (Yield: 1 9″x13″ pan, 2 8″ round pans, or 24 regular-sized cupcakes) 2 c cake flour
1 1/2 c granulated white sugar
3 T cocoa powder 1 t baking soda 1 t salt
2 eggs, room temperature
1 c canola oil
4 T unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c buttermilk, room temperature
1 T vanilla extract
1 1/2 t white vinegar
1 T red gel food coloring *(Note: I recently made this cake but with red wine vinegar instead of white vinegar because I had run out. Results were perfect: even more depth of flavor that complimented the cake fabulously! So if you don’t have white vinegar, go ahead and replace it with vinegars such as apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, or white wine vinegar.)
Preheat oven to 350F. Line with parchment and grease a 9″x13″ pan or two 8″ pans. Alternatively, line a cupcake tin. Set this aside.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set the mixer on low to combine.
Add in butter and oil and mix until a thick mixture forms.
Turn the mixer on to medium and beat for about 2 minutes, until a little more air has been incorporated into the mixture.
In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, white vinegar, and food coloring, whisking to create a homogeneous mixture.
Stream this into the flour & fat mixture and beat for about 2-3 minutes until the batter becomes light and well combined.
Divide into your prepared cake pans and bake.9″x13″ pan: 33-36 minutes 8″ round pan: 26-30 minutes cupcakes: 18-22 minutes
Take the cake out of the oven and let it cool in its pan until completely cooled. Then unmold and decorate as desired. I used a traditional cooked flour frosting as the perfect pairing to this cake.
Sweetly ♥ Yours,