Sunday, June 17, 2012

Red Velvet Heaven

My co-workers think I'm crazy, but I've been looking forward to this for over a week.

Where I work we have THE best birthday parties for each other. I keep an updated list of all of our favorite things - candy, drinks, snacks, what we collect, gift cards, etc. Each of us gets a copy at the beginning of the year, and on our birthdays we get a smorgasbord of all our favorite things.

This year we added "Favorite Cake". Well, one of the girls loves Red Velvet Cake. I've never made one before, so I was actually really excited about baking it for her.

Last week I made sure I had all the ingredients, cause that's pretty much a huge bummer when you set out to bake something and you are missing just one key thing (like eggs, sugar, food coloring).

This recipe called for buttermilk. These are my favorite kind of cake batters.  Because this rich-tasting milk is an acidic ingredient, like yogurt and sour cream, it helps tenderize the gluten in batter, giving the cake a softer texture and more body.

Sometimes, when I am in a tight spot, and need to bake a cake in a hurry I will use a cake mix, and use buttermilk for the liquid. This really adds a "homemade" taste.

Also in this recipe is a tablespoon of vinegar and baking soda.  Most Red Velvet cakes include vinegar & soda. After all the other ingredients have been mixed, you add the vinegar and baking soda by hand. This creates a lovely foaming action. These tiny little oxygen bubbles will then be folded into the cake batter, and this causes the cake to bake into a light, fluffy tasty treat. 

When I dumped in the entire bottle of red food coloring, the batter turned bright red. For an instant I thought about those chemicals that I had just added to the batter, but this was for a friend, so I kept the mixer going until it all turned a nice shade of pink/red. I have a friend who is adverse to artificial anything, and she told me she made a Red Velvet Cake a few years ago, and left out the red food coloring. She called it her "Suede Cake". 

I decided to bake 3 layers, and when I do - I just use 3 pans. I don't like cutting layers in half, so this has worked very well for me the last few years. I also weigh my layers. I pull out my food scale, and weigh each pan to make sure all three layers weigh just about the same. Then I scoot the pans around on the counter to even out the batter in the pans. After I got them in the oven, we moved furniture around, with the help of our neighbors.

We were laughing, telling stories, outside our back door. We have the best neighbors ever!  I'm not sure how long we were out there, and then AAAAHHHHH!!!! The cake!! I ran inside to pull them out of the oven. The timer had gone off at some point, but miraculously they weren't overdone. Big scare.

I made 2 batches of the cream cheese frosting. I just figure you can't have too much, and it's terrible to run out while frosting the cake. The key to cream cheese icing is to make sure the cream cheese and the butter are very soft, but not melted. I left mine out for a couple of hours before I needed them. You can soften in the microwave, but the results are not always ideal. I used the straight icing between the layers, and then a light base layer on the outside, around the edges - to fill in the sides. I added pecan pieces to the rest for the top and sides. Oh, how I want to cut it and see how it looks! But that will have to wait until tomorrow.

I think my first Red Velvet Cake is really beautiful. I hope it tastes good too!

Well, since the cake is all done, it's time to exercise. I'll cross train tonight, and ride my exercise bike. Maybe exercising tonight will help burn off the cake calories I'll eat tomorrow. Maybe? 

Here is a photo of the yummy, rich red slice. I have to say, it was delicious!

Red Velvet Cake (recipe given to me by my friend, Freda)


1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Crisco
2 cups sifted cake flour
1 tbs cocoa
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 oz red food coloring
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 oz water
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 tbs vinegar
1 tsp salt

1 stick butter (softened)
1 8oz package cream cheese (softened)
1 box powered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts

Directions: Mix sugar, Crisco, cake flour cocoa and salt. Add to the mixture the following items: 2/3 cup buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla, eggs, water and then the additional 1/3 cup buttermilk. Beat well and then stir in the following by hand: vinegar and soda. Bake in two layer pans at 350 for 25 minutes.

Icing: Mix all items for the icing and spread on cake. Pin It Now!


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