Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mama's Red Velvet Cake

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

I have heard that there is a newer evolution of red velvet cake that substitutes cooking oil for the real butter used in the original cake. I can't imagine why. Why you would want the oily residue of a cooking oil versus the flavor impact and richness of butter is beyond me, though I think it probably has something to do with the mouth feel texture result, which would probably be somewhat similar to a box cake mix that so many people use. If so, then just use the box mix I say! As far as me, I don't know that I'll go messing around with something that I know is delicious and good... and works!

That, of course, brings me to another thing. Over mixing batter and over measuring - two things that often cause the failure of baked goods in a home cook. A lot of us are guilty of the scoop method of measuring - meaning you take your one cup measure and scoop it into the flour bag and shake off anything that tops over. Nothing could be worse in a cake. Scooping causes the flour to compact in the measuring cup and the results are often that you are actually using quite a bit more flour than you intended to. The right way to measure is to spoon into the measuring cup from the bag or canister until the measuring cup is overflowing, then use the straight edge of a knife to level off the top.

The other thing is not being familiar enough with the way your oven bakes. The only way you can know that, is from how often your result matches a recipe, versus having to remove something sooner or bake something longer. You can also use an oven thermometer as a back up to see if your oven temperature match what your thermostat says. Every oven bakes differently and over time and use of your own, you will know how to make adjustments. Always check your cakes first about 5 to 10 minutes out from the earliest recommended cooking time and no sooner. Opening the oven too early will make the oven temperature fluctuate and often results in a cake to fall in the center.

This is a very special cake in my family - 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, so long as you make it according to the recipe and directions, and don't make any substitutions. I hope that it becomes a special Christmas cake for you, but by the way, it's also the perfect cake for a romantic Valentine's Day dinner.

For more of my favorite cake recipes, visit my page on Pinterest!



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Yum

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. I use 1-1/2 times the frosting recipe above to have plenty of icing. May substitute one (8 ounce) cream cheese, softened at room temperature, for one of the sticks of butter in the frosting.

Sheet Pan and Cupcakes: 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. For a 9 x 13 inch pan, bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 to 35 minutes.

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