Red Velvet Cake

The Great Cake Debate. 

Or really The Great Frosting Debate.

Two weeks ago, I caved and bought a couple of 9-inch cake pans. 

Why did it take me so long to buy what so many consider essential to a baker's kitchen?

Well, I'm not exactly the biggest fan of cake.  Actually, it's more like I'm not frosting's biggest fan. I'm that person who scrapes off the frosting and smushes it into a pile on the side. 

I like cake, just not so much frosting. (This is to the disgust of many of my friends, who are huge Frosting Fans.)

So to christen the new pans, I knew that I would make one of my favorite types of cake -Red Velvet! I invited Kay over both for moral support in this new adventure and for her help, which proved crucial in flipping the cake. There's got to be an easier way to flip those things!

This cake is delicious! It's definitely not something to make or eat everyday... there's way too much butter in the frosting itself. But this cake is just perfect for a special occasion or to share with friends. 

The whole process took about 4 hours.  A lot longer since we're inexperienced cake bakers and chatted along the way.  It's best to be patient with such detailed recipes from America's Test Kitchen.  

One of my favorite parts about ATK is their explanation of how they come to the final recipe and the science behind baking.  The red color in the cake comes not only from the food coloring, but also from the interaction of the cocoa powder and the acidic components -buttermilk and vinegar.  What!!  Also people -especially during World War II- used beets to accent the red color.

First, prepare the pans...

Make the cake batter...

Out of the oven...


So much frosting! 

Looking like an oreo... 

Recipe (Serves 12) -From America's Test Kitchen

2 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk -room temperature
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs -room temperature
2 tbsp natural cocoa powder  (not Dutch-processed!)
2 tbsp red food color (1 oz.)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

Cream cheese  Frosting -this makes A LOT of frosting, I had at least 1 cup leftover)
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
4 cups confectioners' sugar
16 oz cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces, softened
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

For the cake:

Preheat to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour 2 9-inch cake pans. 
Trace parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan and lay on top of the floured surface.

Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
Whisk buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla, and eggs in another bowl.
Mix cocoa with food coloring in small bowl until a smooth paste forms.

With a mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy (2 minutes).
Add 1/3 of flour mixture and beat until just incorporated -30 seconds.
Add half of the buttermilk mixture and beat for another 30 seconds. 
Next add another third of the flour mixture, and beat for 30 seconds. 
Add the rest of the buttermilk mixture and mix.
Add the rest of the flour mixture and beat until incorporated.
Portion the batter evenly into each pan and bake for 25 minutes.
An inserted toothpick should come out clean. 
Cool cakes in pans for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack and peel off parchment paper to cool completely for at least 30 minutes, up to 2 hours.  
   If not cooled completely, the cake won't frost properly. 

For the frosting:

With mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. 
Add cream cheese 1 piece at a time and beat until incorporated. 
Beat in vanilla and salt. 
Refrigerate until use.  Frosting can last up to 5 days in the fridge.

When cakes are cool, spread frosting on 1st cake layer. 
Top with 2nd layer, press gently to adhere and spread with remaining frosting. 
Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 3 days. 

If cakes are domed, just slice off the top so that it's even.  
To avoid making a mess when frosting, cut strips of parchment paper and place them around the cake. Just remove the strips after done frosting. 
If there are a lot of crumbs while frosting, just brush the cake with a pastry brush. Or apply a very thin layer of frosting first before adding the rest of the frosting. 
Make sure to use room temperature ingredients -it makes a big difference!

I'm a Harry Potter fan.  I remember getting the 2nd and 3rd books as Christmas presents way back when.  I actually tried to guess what they were (...I guessed bricks...) and was totally off.  With the last installment coming to an end, I absolutely love this montage from Empire Magazine.  


Linked up to Sweet as Sugar CookiesMangia Mondays,Made Ahead Meals , Cupcake Apothecary, Tasty TuesdayMade it on a Monday


  1. scavengingtheinterwebJune 06, 2011

    First post! Cakeeeeeyyyyy. 
    1. I'm starting to become a fan of ATK after that whole acidic interaction explanation. :) 
    2. Giant oreo!!! 
    3. Holiday theme--did you notice? Holiday Baking issue and the Christmas Tree in June. 
    4. Bricks?! What kind of childhood did you have???? No, I kid. It says less about your parents and perhaps more about your imagination.... Ehehehehe. 
    5. I liked that comment about how to avoid a frosting mess. Clearly we did not get that memo. 
    6. The Harry Potter montage was cute. I liked the lighting. I had a couple of reactions--(1) Is that Draco? (2) IS THAT DUDLEY?!?!?! (3) Rupert Grint is as adorable as Ron Weasley.

  2. carrollk84June 06, 2011

    I have a similar recipe for Red Velvet cake passed down from my mother but it uses more red food coloring so it's more red in color.  I've made it many times despite the fact I don't like Red Velvet Cake.

  3. that looks sooo good! red velvet is my sister's and my favorite!

  4. love the new cake pan. And the cake has come out well. Even Im not a huge fan of frostings simply because most of them are overly sweet. But then I do like frostings that are not too sweet...

  5. 1. HOLIDAYS are the best. ...we've already agreed on this..
    2. yes, i thought they were bricks. hey, they were heavy! and nothing jingled when I shook it, what else could it be! =)
    3. HP HP HP HP HP

  6. archanaaaaaaaaaJune 08, 2011

    I agree with Kimmy....Bricks? HAHAHA
    did you also get coal for christmas?

    PS: delicious posttt

  7. Red velvet cake is such a classic.  All that frosting really makes your cake look enticing.  

  8. ShopanniesJune 13, 2011

    oh so very yummy looks so delicious come see what I shared at

  9. thanks for linking to Tasty Tuesday. Come back again next week


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