The Queen of the South Cake – Red Velvet

Red Velvet cake

Almost everyone LOVES the Red Velvet Cake. It now makes its appearance not only on a beautiful cake stand, richly red and chocolate-y, but in muffins, cupcakes, ice cream and I’ve even seen it on a waffle menu!

But for those of you with certain food triggers that give you a bad headache, if you get one after downing Red Velvet cake, it may just because of the amount of red food coloring used to get that lovely red color. Most recipes (cookies and frosting, for example) that use food coloring, call for a few drops and don’t affect anyone as the amount you consume per cookie is minimal – but when several teaspoons are in the cake, that amount increases. So … if this is a problem for you, just eat the frosting! Or, you might use beetroot, the juice that comes from cooking beets. That will give you some added vitamins (C & K) and will help to keep the cake moist!

The frosting recipe that follows the cake recipe is one that was used in early years at the old “Waldorf” in New York. It’s a bit of a fuss to make but really is tasty with this cake. A good substitute? Cream cheese or butter cream frosting.

And BTW, you note that this recipe calls for ‘shortening’ in both the cake and frosting. I use Crisco when I do this – the unflavored stuff. Please don’t substitute butter for ‘shortening’ in a recipe because of the liquid in the butter (all the milk doesn’t get churned out, you know) and it will upset the balance of wet to dry. Believe me, that balance is critical (and that’s your chemistry lesson for today!).

And speaking of frosting, if you want to frost the whole thing, go for it! I just think it’s nice to see the layers with the frosting peeking out of each layer!

Red Velvet Cake

  • 1/2 c shortening
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 oz. red food coloring
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 1 Tbsp. vinegar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
  • 2-1/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. Pure vanilla or vanilla paste Frosting:
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 c milk (cool)
  • 1/2 c shortening
  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 tsp. Pure vanilla or vanilla paste

Grease and flour cake pans. Makes 3 layers. (You can use unsweetened cocoa to “flour” the pans, gently tapping out the excess and using that excess in the amount called for in the recipe. Using cocoa eliminates that white ‘floury’ look on the side and edges.  Preheat oven to 350.

For the Cake
Make paste of cocoa and red food coloring. Cream shortening, sugar and eggs. Add cocoa and food coloring. Mix well. Add buttermilk with vinegar, and flour with salt alternately. By hand, fold in vanilla and baking soda.

Pour an equal amount into each of the 3 prepared pans, gently smooth the tops.
Bake 30 minutes or until toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Do not over bake.

For the Frosting
Cook flour and milk together until thick. Set aside. Beat shortening, butter, sugar and vanilla until creamy. It should be almost white in color.  Mix together and add milk and flour mixture a little at a time and beat well.

Set first layer on cake; frost with a little less than 1/3 on top and smooth, repeat with 2nd layer and another less than 1/3 frosting on top of that layer on top and smooth. Top with final laying and remaining frosting. You can decorate top with swirls or curlicues or reserve some to pipe a border around the edge. (If you want to frost the whole cake, do about 1/4 of the frosting between layers 1 and 2 so you’ll have enough to go around.)

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