Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Red Velvet Cake

This is probably my favorite cake. I always liked it but I have come to love it. It is the most rich, moist, and delicious cake I have ever made. It definitely lives up to the name "red velvet". The recipe I've been using, although not authentic or special in any way, is the Paul Deen recipe which was her grandmother's. I love it because it has a lot of EVERYTHING. Including butter, sugar, and red food coloring. I'm not sure if I should divulge to you exactly how much red food coloring it does contain, but lets just say that it isn't that incredibly rich, deep red color from just a few drops from the squeeze bottle. In fact, no measuring in drops or tablespoons is even necessary. This cake is unique in both taste and ingredients. Part of what makes it so good is that it contains a chemical rxn (well aside from the usual ingredients involved in the baking process....."cooking is chemistry" as my mom always says) involving baking soda and vinegar. This is the reaction.

NaHCO3 (aq) + CH3COOH (aq) ----> CO2 (g) + H2O (l) + CH3COONa (aq)

So CO2 is produced (the bubbles/foam) and you're left with a dilute solution of sodium acetate in water. The CO2 is what allows the cake to rise. It seems as though it causes it to rise only slightly (just enough) because overall the cake is quite dense and produces relatively thin layers (recipe calls for 3 layers). You could make two thicker layers. 

Here is the recipe:

I never get tired of making this cake. It is that good. Also, traditionally the cake calls for cream cheese frosting but I have been know to substitute it for buttercream (if I'm making it mostly for myself...). Just an extra something. Also, it says to mix in the coconut and pecans before you frost the cake but I sprinkle on the coconut after. It gives it more texture and just looks better than having the coconut mixed in and hidden. Also, I don't add pecans. I hate nuts in desserts but mainly I just think it takes away from it's texture and it's beauty. Leave the outside pure white and when you cut into it the inside is bright red. Very impressive. A good cake at anytime, but especially for the holidays!

Photos by Collin Monda


  1. Al Schro.

    you should have a red velvet cake off. this is my favorite cake. and always my birthday cake. and im pretty positive my mom makes the best one. you should ask her for her recipe. and then make both and taste test and see.

    cheers and love!

  2. yes, I should, you're right! I love the recipe I use but I should check them both out and see. But what IF I like the one I make better? I could never tell you.

  3. I've been googling for red velvet cake recipes, and learnt that traditionally it was made using beetroot, giving it the reddish tinge. That, or there is a chemical reaction between the acidic buttermilk and/or vinegar with the unprocessed cocoa powder. Not sure which is right, but it sounds cool!

  4. That's fascinating Teresa, I've been really wanting to alter the recipe to use beet juice to make it red instead of using all that dye. Makes sense that it's the tradition way, but never knew that. Must try it now.

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