Epicurious Red Velvet Cake

It seems like everyone loves red velvet cake, but for the longest time I didn't know why it was called red velvet cake and it turns out I wasn't the only one that wondered; what's in it that gives red velvet cake its distinctive flavor and color?

Red velvet cake is like a rich white cake with buttermilk and a little bit of unsweetened cocoa powder- that's how the cake gets its distinctive flavor. In the baking process, the alkali in the cocoa powder reacts with the acid (in the teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar), and turns the batter slightly red (like a light brownish/red tinge). So to really get it red, not one but two teaspoons of red food coloring are added to the batter. I definitely want to try making the recipe without any food coloring and see how the cake turns out.

I don't actually have a picture of the finished cupcakes with frosting and I even bought a new frosting piping tip so that the frosting comes out big and fluffy :( They got eaten at the party before I had the chance to find a camera.

Red Velvet Cake
Makes 2 layers of a 9-inch cake or 24 cupcakes


    •    2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (sifted, then measured; 9oz)
    •    2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (0.5oz)
    •    1 tsp baking powder
    •    1 tsp baking soda
    •    1/2 tsp salt
    •    1 cup buttermilk (8 oz)
    •    1 tbsp red food coloring
    •    1 tsp distilled white vinegar or lemon juice
    •    1 tsp vanilla extract
    •    1 1/2 cups sugar (10.5oz)
    •    1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature (2oz)
    •    2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a two 9-inch-diameter cake pans or put paper liners in a 12-cup muffin tin.  Sift the sifted flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into medium bowl.

Whisk buttermilk, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla in small bowl until blended.

Using electric mixer or Kitchenaid, beat sugar and butter until well blended. Add eggs one at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Mix in dry ingredients in 4 additions alternately with buttermilk mixture in three additions. * Always begin and end with the dry ingredients.

Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 27 minutes (Cupcakes baked for about 18 minutes)

Cool in pans on racks 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto racks; cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar (I used only about 2 cups)
Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Beat in vanilla.

Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on platter. Spread 1 cup frosting over top of cake. Top with second cake layer, flat side down. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. This cake can be made one day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.

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