My love for Red Velvet Cake began many, many years before I moved to the South, where it is probably the most popular cake of all time. I grew up in New Mexico where my mother made Red Velvet Cake for special occasions only. It was my very favorite cake so I asked for it every single year for my birthday. And I got it! Probably the most special memory I have of it though, was that I had it made for my wedding. To this day, I never make a Red Velvet Cake without thinking of all the special memories attached.
I use the old original recipe that was given to my mother about 60 years ago.
The amazing white frosting in the original Red Velvet Cake is hardly used anymore. Most everyone uses a cream cheese or buttercream frosting. Personally, I think Red Velvet Cake isn't even Red Velvet Cake without the old, original frosting recipe. (Details in the recipe at the end of this post.)
In the current issue of Where Women Cook, the Editor talks about food traditions. She asks this question: "When you close your eyes, which of your much-loved traditions come to mind and which dishes were made year after year that were an important part of the celebration"? I did it. I closed my eyes and immediately, and I do mean immediately, Red Velvet Cake came to my mind!
So, I'm pretty sure this cake tastes incredible, looks incredible, IS incredible partly because, for me, it is absolutely and totally chock full of special memories!
I'm going to share my mother's very old and very treasured recipe with you. Follow it exactly! And then let me know what you think!
Red Velvet Cake
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
2 ounces red food coloring
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans.
Cream butter and sugar in mixer bowl until fluffy. Add eggs and beat well.
Place cocoa and food coloring in small bowl and stir to a nice smooth consistency.
Add to creamed mixture.
Sift flour and salt.
Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating in between each addition.
Add vanilla, vinegar, and baking soda.
Mix well. Pour evenly into prepared cake pans and bake until done, about 25 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cake rest for about 5 minutes then remove from pans.
Cool completely and then with a large serrated knife, slice the layers horizontally making a total of four layers. Wrap each cooled layer in saran wrap and place them in freezer overnight. (The purpose of freezing the cake is that it makes it much easier to handle while frosting. You won't end up with little red crumbs in your frosting!)
1 1/2 cups milk
3 heaping tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (NOT confectioners)
1 1/2 cups butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine milk and flour in a small saucepan. Cook, over medium heat, stirring constantly until smooth and thick. Remove from heat, pour the mixture into a clean bowl and cover the surface with saran wrap. This stops the cooking and also prevents a skin from forming on the surface. Set aside to cool.
In stand mixer cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla and mix.
When your milk mixture is slightly cooled, add one tablespoon at a time to the butter mixture, whipping thoroughly in between.
Whip until you have a fluffy, white and buttery frosting.
Frost each layer with small bit of frosting and then frost the entire cake! Refrigerate to solidify the frosting and it tastes better cold!
So, now a little discussion on the frosting. When I've shared this recipe in the past, I've actually heard folks say, "I didn't use the frosting recipe because I read the recipe and it seemed incorrect". It does seem very, very strange to make a roux for a cake frosting! However, I beg of you to please, please do not use any other frosting in the Red Velvet Cake. It is what actually "takes the cake"!
This is what I know about the frosting. It is a very old recipe that the French used to call Boiled Milk Frosting and then later it was called Ermine Frosting. It uses the gluten in the flour and the casein in the milk to create a suspension that makes for the fluffy amazingness of it!
It is a little extra work, but I really like that it is the very old original Red Velvet Cake frosting.
So now, I'd like to ask my faithful readers the same question that Jo Packham asked in her magazine:
When you close your eyes, which of your much-loved traditions come to mind and which dishes were made year after year that were an important part of the celebration?
Let me know!