In the South, Red Velvet is your go to party cake, right there with Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake. (We’ll talk about that one later on). What’s not to love with its shocking red moist interior and its sweet cream cheese icing (yes, it’s icing, not frosting – Remember the saying, “icing on the cake?”) It truly is unforgettable.
In recent years, the Red Velvet has extended its velvety goodness out of South and across the United States. When my husband turned 40, we had a pig roast in the back yard of our home here in Colorado. He requested his birthday cake to be Red Velvet. Being 9 months pregnant and having all his family sleeping in every square inch of the house, and it raining, I opted to head to the bakery for his requested Red Velvet cake. The bakeries here had never heard of Red Velvet. I promptly provided them the recipe that I used growing up. So a few birthdays and a few kids later, we’re still making My Southern Red Velvet Cake for special holidays. Here’s the traditional recipe – the only one I ever use. Don’t freak out over the red food coloring. You don’t eat it every day, so go ahead and splurge. It’s Valentine’s Day after all.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour your pan(s).
8 oz stick of softened butter (I love Kerrygold®)
2 Cups Sugar
3 TBSP of Unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark®)
2 TBSP Vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 TBSP White Vinegar
1 1/4 Cups of buttermilk
1 3/4 Cups of all purpose flour (or cake flour)
Big pinch of salt
Red food coloring (I like to use the gel in the jar. For this dark red color, I used a whole 1 oz. jar of “No Taste” red icing coloring that I bought at Michael’s). The color combined with the Hershey’s Special Dark gives the cake a really rich, dark red.
Mix the sugar and butter together with a hand or stand mixer until combined. Add the eggs one at a time. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the cocoa powder, vanilla, baking soda, vinegar and salt. Mix until combined. Alternate adding a little of the flour and a little of the buttermilk until it’s all mixed in. Now it’s time for the red. This is the best part, aside from eating it. I love to watch the red swirls blend into the batter and turn it into this vibrant eye-catching color.
Divide your batter equally among whichever pans you choose. It will be thick. I use my handy-dandy ice cream scoop to divide the batter. For this festive Valentine cake, I used 5 heart shaped pans (Wilton heart pans purchased at Michael’s. These heart shaped pans cooked for 18 minutes. Let cool, pop them out and apply the icing.
8 oz. block of softened cream cheese
8 ozs. butter softened (Again, I love Kerrygold®)
1 lb bag of powdered sugar
Milk or water to thin as needed – Remember that it needs to be thick enough to stay on your cake, but not so thick that it won’t spread.
I love icing. Buttercream is my favorite, but this is a really close second. If you’re a fan like me and cake is only there as a means to eat icing without using your fingers, you may want to double the recipe. Go ahead and experiment. Have fun. Add your own twist to make it your own. Enjoy!