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RED VELVET CAKEAs I said during my pitch on Shark Tank, red velvet is a Southern holiday tradition. There are quite a few theories about the origin of this cake. Throughout my travels to food shows, where I often serve this cake to folks, I’m surprised by the number of people who say it’s just a chocolate cake with red food coloring in it. I always feel the need to let them know “not where I come from!” One tablespoon of cocoa does not a chocolate cake make. When that bit of cocoa combines with a touch of vinegar, a lovely reddish hue results. Adding food coloring amps up the “wow” factor!

  • Yield: 4 Servings


  • Pan Grease (this page) or extra vegetable shortening and flour for preparing the pans
  • 0.52 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 0.5 teaspoon salt
  • 0.25 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk (see Hint)
  • 1 tablespoons red food coloring
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar (white or balsamic)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 0.5 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 large eggs
  • Cream Cheese Frosting (this page)
How to Make It
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat three 9-inch round cake pans with Pan Grease (this page) or a thin layer of shortening with a light dusting of flour.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and baking powder.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together the buttermilk, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat together the sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy, 3 minutes.
  5. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the eggs. Scrape down the sides and around the bottom of the bowl. Beat thoroughly on high speed until smooth, 2 minutes. Add the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture. Beat on low speed just until combined. Scrape the bowl again. Beat on high speed for 1 minute. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans.
  6. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake layer comes out clean, 18 minutes. The cakes will have pulled away from the edges of the pan, but the cakes’ edges shouldn’t be browned. Let cool for 10 minutes before turning the layers out onto wire racks to cool completely.
  7. Once cool, put one cake layer on a serving plate. Frost the top with the cream cheese frosting, then add a second cake layer and frost the top. Add the final cake layer and frost the top and sides.
  8. Variations RED VELVET CUPCAKES Line two cupcake pans with 24 liners. Divide the batter evenly among the liners, filling two-thirds full. Bake in a 350°F oven until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out with just a few crumbs on it, 18 to 22 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the pan and let cool completely on a wire rack. Frost and decorate as desired.
  9. RED VELVET SHEET CAKE Grease and flour a 9 × 13 × 2-inch glass baking dish. Spread the batter evenly in the pan. Bake in a 350°F oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with just a few crumbs on it, 28 to 32 minutes. Let cool completely and then cover with your favorite frosting.
  10. For a thinner, larger cake, use a 12 × 18 × 1-inch half-sheet pan and bake for 20 to 22 minutes. Cutting this cake in half and stacking the two layers makes a very pretty cake. It’s lovely garnished with green and red cherries for the holidays'

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