Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mama's Red Velvet Cake

A classic southern cake that usually makes its appearance over the Christmas holidays.

Mama's Red Velvet Cake

This was a traditional Christmas cake around our house growing up and it is as moist as it is pretty. I can barely think of Red Velvet Cake without thinking of my Mama, and it is the Christmas season where my heart gets real heavy on missing her. This is a special cake - and meant to be made from scratch in my opinion. It's my Mama's recipe, and I promise it will be worth every single ounce of energy you put into it. I hope that it becomes a special Christmas cake for you.

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Recipe: Mama's Red Velvet Cake

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 15 min |Cook time: 40 min | Yield: About 10 to 12 servings

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of cocoa
  • 2 ounces (1/4 cup) of red food coloring
  • 2-1/4 cups of cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 cup of buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
For the Frosting
  • 3 tablespoons of all purpose flour
  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped pecans, optional
Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two 9-inch or three 8-inch cake pans with non-stick spray and a round of parchment paper.

In a mixer bowl, cream together the butter and sugar; add eggs, one at a time and fully incorporate them into the butter mixture. Mix together the cocoa and the food coloring to make a paste; add to the butter mixture.

Sift together the cake flour and salt.  Alternate adding the buttermilk and the flour mixture into the mixer at about 1/2 cup at a time.  Add vanilla.

Remove mixer bowl from the mixer and move to workspace. In a separate bowl, combine the vinegar and baking soda (mixture will foam up a bit); add into the batter. Carefully blend in, but do not beat the batter. Divide mixture evenly between the pans.

Bake at 350 degrees F about 25 to 30 minutes for 8 inch pans, 35 to 40 minutes for 9 inch pans, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack to fully cool before frosting. Sprinkle chopped pecans on top if desired.

For the frosting, in a saucepan, whisk together the flour and the milk until blended; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture begins to thicken. Set aside to cool while preparing the cake.

In the bowl of a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and light. Combine the milk mixture with the butter mixture, add the vanilla, and beat until you reach the texture of whipped cream. Spread on the cooled cake. Sprinkle with chopped pecans, if desired.

Cook's Notes To substitute a gel paste food coloring, use only about 1/2 teaspoon. May also prepare cake in a tube pan (bake about 50-55 minutes), 9 x 13 inch baking pan or cupcakes. For cupcakes, fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full and rotate pans halfway through cooking time. Yield will be about 2 dozen. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick returns clean and let cool in pan completely. I use 1-1/2 times the frosting recipe above to have plenty of icing. For a 9 x 13 inch pan, bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 to 35 minutes. Can substitute one (8 ounce) cream cheese, softened at room temperature, for one of the sticks of butter in the frosting.

Source: http://www.deepsouthdish.com/

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Posted by on February 13, 2010

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29 comments:

  1. I will have to try this--I very much like to mix & bake my own cakes rather than use a store bought mix. Thanks!

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  2. I could have written the top part of this post. I cannot think of Red Velvet cake either without thinking of my mom. It is her signature cake. She does not fix it as often since her health has declined but it is so good. Mom's called for some type of mixture to be poured over it after it was baked. It made it so moist. One year my aunt asked for the recipe and it turned out so dry. We found out later that she poured the mixture in before baking it and that is why it didn't turn out like mom's. But since then she can bake them just like her sister. I am enjoying your section on Sunday dinners. Brings back a lot of good memories. Thanks!

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  3. Thank you Lisa! This one is plenty moist on it's own, but I'm curious about what that is she's pouring on top now!!

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  4. I made this for my husband on his 51st birthday, although i made a mistake it still came out good and delicious. The icing is really good. Thank you so much!

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    Replies
    1. Oh I'm so glad that he was happy with it - Happy Birthday to your hubby!! Thank you so much for coming back by to let me know also. That always means a lot - I bet my Mama is smiling right now!

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    2. Shared your recipe with family and friends for CHRISTmas. Thanks!

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    3. Sent this recipe to family and friends for CHRISTmas. Thanks.

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  5. I call this frosting "Mystery Frosting" and always use this recipe for my Red Velvet Cake made from scratch. It is just perfect, not to sweet, for this beautiful cake. The only difference in my recipe is I use part butter/part Crisco to keep the frosting snow white. Will never forget my first attempt 40 years ago. I beat the granulated sugar, butter, Crisco forever but couldn't get the grainness to go away. Amazing! Add the cold flour/milk mixture and the sugar grains disappear and you have whipped cream texture. The perfect frosting. By the way, my son's & family have dubed this beautiful cake "The Roll Tide Cake". Home is Alabama but neither son lives in Montgomery or the state of Alabama now. BJ

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  6. Could something else be substituted for the 2oz of red food coloring? I know red is the big point of the cake, but if one wanted to avoid it? Maybe I could try Kahlua. . . since the cake calls for cocoa. . .Thanks for the recipe for a real cake. I am looking to avoid mixes!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Rita! I use Duncan Hines for some cakes still but most of them are far too sweet for me. As to the food coloring, it is just to make this that classic red. It can absolutely be left out.

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  7. Mary, this post brought back so many memories. My Mama wasn't much of a baker (I suppose raising seven kids kept her otherwise occupied!). But, every Christmas, my Aunt Jenny made this cake. I used to have her recipe (another hurricane fatality), and when I read your Mama's, I knew I had found it again! This is definitely a "keeper" which I will certainly treasure. This also brought to mind another cake which my aunt made every Christmas, which was a Butternut Cake, flavored with butter nut extract. Would you happen to have a recipe for that as well?? Many thanks & Merry Christmas!!

    Theresa

    ReplyDelete
  8. Mary, this post brought back so many memories. My Mama wasn't much of a baker (I suppose raising seven kids kept her otherwise occupied!). But, every Christmas, my Aunt Jenny made this cake. I used to have her recipe (another hurricane fatality), and when I read your Mama's, I knew I had found it again! This is definitely a "keeper" which I will certainly treasure. This also brought to mind another cake which my aunt made every Christmas, which was a Butternut Cake, flavored with butter nut extract. Would you happen to have a recipe for that as well?? Many thanks & Merry Christmas!!

    Theresa

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    Replies
    1. I don't have a recipe called Butternut Cake but I will need to look into that!

      Delete
  9. Hi Mary. This sounds like a great receipe. I think I will try it for the new year. One question: what is the recommended time for cooking using the tube pan. I make a homemade 7up cake and I cook that for 1hr and 15min when I use my tube pan. Thanks for sharing!

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    Replies
    1. If you reduce the temp to 325 it'd probably go about that long for this one too. I'd go that route.

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  10. Hi Mary, sounds like a really good receipe. I think I may try it for the new year. How long do you recommend cooking the cake in the tube pan? I make a homemade7up cake in my tube pan and I have to cook that for 1hr and 15min @325°. Thanks for sharing.

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  11. I just made this cake & my DH says 'really good cake!' I did not want to use the red food coloring so I subbed Kahlua because it would enhance the chocolate flavor as well. I also used evaporated cane juice sugar which is not a fine grained as regular white sugar. However I have read elsewhere that the original 1800s recipe called for brown sugar & no food coloring so maybe this is more authentic. I did not have cake flour so subtracted 2T per cup (1 & 1.2 teaspoons for a 1/4 cup). I think you could just use 2C regular flour & be ok. I had reall buttermilk too. I had never heard of this frosting, apparently it is 'boiled milk frosting' & I used half butter, half cream cheese. Tastes great.

    I am into real food & have been wanting to make a cake without a cake mix. This one is awesome! (So is Cold Oven Pound Cake for another option)

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  12. Yum! I made a Red Velvet cake for my daughter's wedding a few years back. It was the 'Groom's Cake'. The cake recipe is exactly like this one, but I used a mixture of cream cheese and butter for the frosting. It was SO good! Everyone raved about my Red Velvet cake! Of course, my kitchen looked like I had dismembered a body after I was finished mixing the cake!

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  13. My daughter wanted a Red Velvet cake as the 'groom's cake' for her wedding a few years back...so I made her one. Had never made one before in my life! My kitchen looked like I had dismembered a body after I had finished mixing the cake...but, boy, was it worth it! This sounds like the recipe I used, but I used a combination of cream cheese and butter for the frosting. It was a big hit!

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  14. What kind of flour self rising or all purpose?

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    Replies
    1. Neither! For this cake Mama always used cake flour. Cake flour is lower protein than all purpose and gives a better crumb and a lighter more tender texture versus a chewy texture all purpose gives. You can substitute all purpose with some adjustments, but it's not the same result.

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  15. I've never left a comment before, but, I have to warn people. My cake turned out like a brick. I followed this recipe exactly. After looking at other recipes, I think that VEGETABLE OIL might have been omitted from this recipe. It was WAY too thick. Our cake went in the trash.

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    Replies
    1. Nope. Nothing is missing in the recipe, so there is no need to "warn" people about this recipe.

      This cake uses butter - most of the heirloom, traditional red velvet cakes do, they don't use cooking oil - so there is no vegetable oil missing in this recipe, and yes, the batter as with most homemade cakes, is not thin and should, in fact, be pretty thick.

      I truly don't know what happened for you, but I can assure you the photo here is from this exact recipe here, I've made this many, many times, and I think you can see from that photo, there are no bricks in those layers! In fact, I've had many compliments on this cake, some of which are right here in the comments, and, in case you didn't read the post itself, is the recipe that my mother used for all of my life!

      It is a light and airy cake. So sorry your cake didn't work out, but you really cannot fault the recipe and unless I was there with you, it's impossible to pinpoint what could have caused the problem. Baking is an exact science, takes some practice to learn your mistakes so there are so many factors - other than the recipe - that can cause problems with baking, and particularly with baking cakes.

      A hard cake could mean you overmixed, which creates a reaction in the gluten and makes for a hard, dense cake. Or, you may have used too much flour. A common mistake in baking is to scoop the measuring cup into the flour, which compacts the flour and increases the amount you actually use. Too much flour will make your cake dense and hard. Did you use cake flour as instructed, or did you substitute all purpose? Cake flour is a lower protein than all purpose and gives a better crumb and a lighter more tender texture versus a chewy and more dense texture all purpose gives. You can substitute all purpose with some adjustments & additions to the recipe, but it's not the same result.

      Did you use buttermilk, or did you try to get by with a homemade substitute using vinegar or lemon, because I don't recommend that - for this cake, use real buttermilk. Did you mix together the vinegar and baking soda before adding to the batter? Or did you add them individually instead?

      Also, it could be that your oven runs hot and the thermostat is off. That would mean that you actually overcooked your cake and that will definitely make a cake hard! Did you use the right sized pans? Did you check the cake to see if it was done before or at the earliest suggested time?

      Are you sure your baking soda was fresh? Did you sufficiently cream the butter and sugar together before adding any other ingredients? Was the butter softened at room temperature as instructed, or was it too warm or even nearly melted?

      Did you use large eggs? Were they at room temperature? Did you add the eggs one at a time, so that each would incorporate into the batter before adding the other?

      If you are not an experienced baker already, it will take some time to perfect your craft. As you see, there are so many factors - other than a recipe - that can affect the outcome with baking.

      Please don't always assume a recipe is at fault when baking and something fails. Just keep baking and learning!

      Delete

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