This red velvet cake is really wonderful. I worked on tweaking the recipe for a long time, and I finally believe it is unsurpassable. People do nothing but rave about this cake, and there are NEVER leftovers. You’re gonna love it! Ok, ok. You’re wondering why the cake in this photo (my wedding cake!!!) is not exactly “red.” This, my dears, is absolutely on purpose. Red velvet cake was not always bright red. In fact, I am going to tell y’all the story of “Little Red Velvet Cake…Hood”:
Once upon a time in a bright and shiny kitchen, there lived a beautiful little pot of buttermilk. This buttermilk was a rather kinky gal, and she had a polyamorous affair with her friends Vinegar and Unprocessed Cocoa. Soon after, she became pregnant with Little Red Velvet Cake…Hood, who was a lovely mahogany color.
When Little Red was about 15 years old, she decided to go and visit Grandma Cream Cheese Frosting. On the way, she was violently accosted by a Big Bad Food Coloring Company, who wanted to sell a lot of dyes to a bunch of poor people during the Great Depression. Because food coloring is what starving homeless people need to spend money on. Anyway, he demanded she turn bright red, lose more than half her delicious cocoa powder, and stain the teeth of murderous looking children everywhere red. Never mind that bright red simply didn’t suit her- she was forced to transform herself into a vapid bright red bland monstrosity and haunt church basements, supermarket bakeries and spoiled children’s birthday parties.
Years later, she tried in vain to regain her natural coloring, but her father Unprocessed Cocoa was kind of a deadbeat dad, and super hard to find. Her mother had remarried Dutch Processed Cocoa, and they no longer had any chemistry together. However, her fairy godmother Megan told Little Red that if she looked really hard for her dad, Unprocessed Cocoa, she could sometimes find him lurking in specialty stores.
She was empowered by this journey to return to her roots and say no to Evil Chemical Food Coloring who is linked to cancer, and no to Natural Beet Food Coloring who tastes like goddamn beets. Even if she wasn’t wearing a fancy dress, she was the belle of every ball, because she tasted the best in The Universe, and Any Subsequent Universes or Dimensions. After all my beloveds, isn’t it what’s on the inside that counts? THE END.
THE BEST RED VELVET CAKE OF ALL TIME, THE UNIVERSE, AND ANY SUBSEQUENT UNIVERSES OR DIMENSIONS (with a special appearance by MAGICAL MYSTICAL CREAM CHEESE FROSTING)
For the cake:
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cake flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/3 cup unprocessed cocoa (if you really can’t find any, your cake will be fine, it just won’t have any red tint whatsoever)
- 1 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. white vinegar
- 1/2 cup strong hot coffee
- suggested music: Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs “Li’l Red Riding Hood”
For the frosting: Magical Mystical Cream Cheese Frosting
Preheat your oven to 325˚F (162˚C). Grease and flour 2 round cake pans. I grease my pans first, then if I am baking a more delicate cake like red velvet, I cut out a round piece of baking paper, put it in the bottom of the buttered pan, then grease and flour it on top of the paper.
You can also make the cornstarch frosting base the night before, which takes a lot of the cooking time out. If you do this, remember to let it come to room temperature along with the butter and cream cheese, so that it is soft and spreadable.
In a mixing bowl, whisk your dry ingredients together and set aside. I like to do the cocoa last so I don’t get as much cocoa everywhere. In a separate mixing bowl, mix your sugar and wet ingredients, putting in the coffee and vinegar last. I used to do this on a stand mixer, but now I have to use a cheap ’70s hand mixer because my husband’s ex took the KitchenAid during the move. Not bitter…
Anyhoo *beaming smile*, bake the cakes in the middle of the rack for 30-40 minutes. Do not over bake them. They need to be very moist and yummy. Some people have two racks in their ovens, and can bake the cakes evenly at once. If you do this, switch them halfway through. If you’re like me, and have a small oven, you will have to bake the cakes separately. While the second one is baking, I often cool the first down in the freezer or fridge for about 15 minutes, then proceed to frost the layer, while the other finishes baking. I realize my wedding cake has three layers, and this recipe is for two layers. I just added a half a recipe’s (recipes’?) worth ingredients to get three layers. Or you could double both the cake and frosting recipes and have enough for three layers and cupcakes too!
I don’t skimp on frosting. You know those annoying people at birthday parties who scrape off the frosting and put it on the sides of their plate? This has NEVER happened with my frostings. Yeah, it’s decadent. Now own it!
Tips and Tricks– Here is an excerpt on how to frost your cake from another one of my posts:
“To properly frost your cake, you will need a few things. A turning cake stand; a cake spatula, which is long and thin like for crêpes; if you have it, a cake smoother and pastry bag with decorating tips if you want. If you don’t have these things, don’t panic. It will just take a little more effort to make your cake beautiful, but it will taste just as amazing.
Turn your first pan upside down on your cake stand, and remove the girdle thingie (i.e. the sides), or if you don’t have a removable bottom, it will just fall out. Take a butter knife, and while applying gentle pressure on the middle of the pan bottom, loosen the cake underneath it. Be verrrrrrrry careful. This is a delicate moist cake. Don’t worry too much if a bit of your cake remains stuck to the bottom. I use it to make little cake balls and top it with leftover frosting.
Next, you will put globs of frosting onto the top of the first layer, spreading lightly with your spatula until the whole top is covered, and you are happy with your cake-to-frosting ratio. I like my frosting to be half as thick as each cake layer. Then you will verrrrrry carefully repeat the above process with your second layer. Try not to eat the cake balls in the meantime, but if you can’t help it, I won’t judge you.
Once you have both layers neatly stacked and the tops are frosted, you can begin to lightly spread the frosting all over the tops and sides of the cake. Then, make space in your fridge, and cool the cake for 30 minutes. This is called the crumb coat, and it will make your cake prettier. If you are a lazy bum and you’d rather just devour the cake now, no matter that the hell it looks like, then you can skip this step.
Finally, take your cooled cake out of the fridge, and apply the final coat of frosting, using your cake smoother to make the sides even. You can decorate it however you like, but honestly no one will care, because their only desire after eating this cake will be to worship the very ground you walk upon.”