I like pretty things. I also like cream cheese and sugar and butter, which makes it a little odd that until a week or so ago, I’d never tried red velvet cake.
I know. Everyone’s tried red velvet cake! But I’m a Jewish girl from the suburbs, and we have no ties in the South, so I didn’t discover the jewel-toned cake until I happened upon the treasure trove of food porn that is Tastespotting. Suddenly, not only did I have hundreds – if not thousands – of photos and recipes for red velvet cake at my fingertips, but I also had the opinions of every single baker as to exactly what red velvet cake should be.
Seriously, guys, this cake looks innocent enough, but it may be the most controversial recipe I’ve ever encountered. Pecans or no pecans? Buttercream or cream cheese frosting? How much cocoa? I share my apartment with a Southern girl. If I messed this up, would she refuse to eat it?
I’m going to come right out and say that screw it, I messed with this recipe plenty, and it’s probably entirely unorthodox. But it was deemed “the best red velvet cake I’ve ever had” by more than one person at work, so I’m just going to consider this a new era in food-colored cakery. I’ll put it in quotes if you want. And if I haven’t convinced you, it has cream cheese frosting; if that doesn’t do it for you, I don’t think we can be friends.
Just bake it how you want it, guys. I promise it’ll be good.
Really Unorthodox Red Velvet Cake
Adapted from Peabody, whose husband would probably be very upset by this cake.
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 tsp white vinegar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
5/8 ounce bottle red food coloring
Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Cream the eggs, sugar, oil, and vinegar.
Sift the cake flour, baking soda, and cocoa together. Gradually at first, beat the flour mixture into the creamed ingredients. Be careful not to overbeat.
Slowly add the sour cream. While still beating, add the vanilla and the food coloring. [*Alli’s note: Do this SLOWLY! Or else risk irreversible damage to your clothing!]
Pour into three 8-inch layer pans; bake for about 25 minutes. Press lightly; if the layers are spongy, then the cake is done. Frost the cooled layers, assemble, and frost the top and sides.
Alli’s note: This made five mini loaf pans’ worth, baked for an extra ten minutes or so. Also, in a fit of things-sticking-to-cooking-dishes paranoia, I greased the pans. You’ll notice it does not say to grease the pans in the recipe. These need some traction on the sides to form a nice dome shape; if you’re really worried, put some greased parchment on the bottom of the pans.
Serves 12 to 14.
Cream Cheese Frosting
1(8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter
1 (1 pound) box confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Melt the cream cheese and butter together over very low heat. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Beat in the sugar vanilla and mix well. If the frosting becomes too thick, add a little milk.
Frosts one 8- or 9-inch layer cake.