“Hi! My name is Chris and I don’t make Red Velvet cakes!” Well that was before. My good friends asked me to make three cakes for multiple celebrations they were having on the same day. Strawberry Shortcake – no problem I chuckled, Chocolate Cake – again, I laughed inside – I had this in the bag, what’s the third I asked – rather cocky and feeling sure I nailed this – “Red Velvet” she said – beads of sweat started pouring down my forehead, my stomach started to turn, my throat got heavy. I said “are you sure?” She said yes, it’s our favorite. Really, how did I not know that?! “I’m a Chef” I kept saying, “just tell me what you want” I said – she did! I tried talking her out of it, calling it “pedestrian, overrated” I said – she didn’t budge, she held her ground firm.

I hung up the phone and recalled my first – and last, red velvet cake. A disaster, dry, pale, ugh I say. Never again I thought (okay this was some 20 years ago). So I started my search for a good recipe, first through the books, than the internet, then my archives on my laptop. Somewhere along the way, I found it. Red Velvet Cake! A fool proof recipe from Cooks Illustrated that I must have kept from years gone by, anticipating this day would come. Almost everything I’ve ever tried from these folks, works well for me. If you have ever been to one of my classes, you know I speak highly of their recipes. Okay, first two cakes – like tying shoe laces – phht! Beautiful and tasty(even for me who can’t decorate)!

Friday morning, before the party, I’ll buy a cake I thought, who will know?! But then I love a challenge, and I was ready for it. I prepped for it, I got a good night’s sleep, I read the recipe before turning in. Kept it on my night stand just in case I woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat wondering how much red food coloring to put in, gel or liquid, tsp or tbsp.? Okay, so that’s the story, below is the recipe. I can actually say/type the name without feeling queasy. It works people! Yeay! This is a perfect recipe, the cream cheese icing makes this cake and it also comes out perfect. Sadly, I didn’t have a good picture – forgot my camera, of a cut piece. All three cakes are pictured below.

Note: As part of the program, I will continue to make red velvet cakes until cured of this phobia. As always – enjoy!

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
Pinch salt
1 cup buttermilk (this is a major ingredient in the recipe, so buy it. Make biscuits, muffins, salad dressing out of the rest – well worth it)
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons natural cocoa powder
2 tablespoons red food coloring – I used the gel kind, Cooks Illustrated recommended the gel over the liquid kind
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted Churn 84, softened – I didn’t cut back on the Churn, typically due to the higher fat content, I use less, in his case I wanted the extra fat
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

16 tablespoons Churn 84, softened
4 cups confectioners’ sugar – give or take
16 ounces cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces, softened – I used light cream cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract – I used clear vanilla extract
Pinch salt

Make the cake:
Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 350f degrees
Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans
Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl
Whisk buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla, and eggs in large measuring cup
Mix cocoa with food coloring in small bowl until a smooth paste forms – this is important
Using the mixer and with a paddle attachment – beat butter and sugar on medium high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as necessary
Change the speed to low and add one-third of flour mixture – mix until just incorporated, about 30 seconds
Add half the buttermilk mixture and beat on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds
Scrape down bowl as necessary and repeat with half of remaining flour mixture, remaining buttermilk mixture, and finally remaining flour mixture
Scrape down bowl, add cocoa mixture, and beat on medium speed until completely incorporated, about 30 seconds
Using rubber spatula, give batter final stir
Scrape into prepared pans and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 25 minutes
Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes then turn out onto rack to cool completely, at least 30 minutes

Make the frosting:
With electric mixer or hand held beater, cream butter and sugar on medium-high (yes, start on low) speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes
Add cream cheese, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds
Beat in vanilla and salt and refrigerate until ready to use.
When cakes are cooled, slice each cake in half
Spread a thin layer of the frosting on the surface of the first layer – be careful, this is a soft cake and will tear apart if the frosting is too stiff – put a little bit in a bowl and microwave it in short 5 – 10 second bursts to warm it up and soften it to spreadable consistency
Top with another layer and continue until you have frosting between the layers and on the outside of the cake itself
Store covered in a cool, dry place – the basement works well – do not refrigerate unless you are making this days in advance of the party
For best results, always bring to room temperature before slicing and serving
As always – enjoy!


rv 4