Thursday, March 29, 2007

Scarlet and Gray Cake

Those of you from the south might call this a Red Velvet Cake, but in honor of the Buckeye's Final Four appearance in Atlanta this weekend, I'm going to add a dash more red food coloring to the cake batter and then I'll see if I can mix up a nice gray color for the icing (we'll then pray that it doesn't look like a dead armadillo) and I'm gonna call it a Scarlet and Gray Cake.

Regardless of the coloring, as a kid, this was always my requested birthday cake and it remains one of my favorite cakes to make and eat. I haven't had one/made one since moving to Maine, so this is a lovely excuse to bake.

There are many red velvet cake recipes to be found; some recommend crushed pecans as a garnish and some (the heresy) advise the use of a store-bought devil's food cake mix and canned frosting, which absolutely does not do. Others substitute white frosting for the cream cheese. Not bad, but not great. This is my favorite recipe, from my good friend Joy's momma, Rosie, who hails from Russel Springs, KY.


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons red food coloring (1 ounce)--I'm going to bump this up to three
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Vegetable oil for the pans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil and flour 3 (9 by 1 1/2-inch round) cake pans.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In another large bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla.

Using a standing mixer, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and a smooth batter is formed.

Divide the cake batter evenly between the three prepared cake pans. Place the pans in the oven evenly spaced apart. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through the cooking, until the cake pulls away from the side of the pans, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

Remove the cakes from the oven and run a knife around the edges to loosen them from the sides of the pans. One at a time, invert the cakes onto a plate and then re-invert them onto a cooling rack, rounded-sides up. Let cool completely before frosting the cake.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 pound cream cheese, softened
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup), softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Using a mixer, mix the cream cheese, sugar, and butter on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high, and mix until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Add the vanilla, and beat until fluffy. Refrigerate until the frosting stiffens before frosting the cake.


Bucknutz said...

It's going to look like a dead armadillo. No doubt about it.

Marie said...

Heh. My children once went to a birthday party and ate red velvet cake. Later that evening I heard one of my children cry out from the bathroom, " Mom, I'm think I'm dying." Yep. Everything came out blood red. Neither child has eaten red velvet cake ever since.
Still, I'm rooting for the Buckeyes this weekend!

mainelife said...

Marie I can honestly say that I've eaten a bunch of red velvet cakes and NEVER had the problem. Although bumping up the amount of red food coloring now worries me on two levels. Before it was just the additional chemicals!

Marie said...

Ahh--ya only live once and so far my children are relatively normal. Dump all that red dye in...what the heck!

mainelife said...

Glad to hear that the kids are relatively normal. A scare like that could really set one back.....

I've decided to blame my crabbiness and forgetfulness on the red dye, so dumb I did.
It does look like a road kill armadillo, but it tastes divine.