Monday, March 26, 2007

So Red! How Daring!

If you see Red Velvet Cake in a number of places on blogs today don't be surprised. The Daring Bakers are at it again. After conquering, among other things, croissants that took three days and chocolate flour less cake, the original intrepid bakers are joined by a few newbies, myself included.
This collection of bakers who dare include: Quellia at All Things Edible, Mary at Alpineberry, Ivonne at Cream Puffs in Venice, Peabody at Culinary Concotions by Peabody, Morven at Food Art and Random Thoughts, Hester at Hester in Geneva, Brilynn at Jumbo Empanadas, Lisa at La Mia Cucina, Tanna at My Kitchen In HalfCups, Helene at Tartlette, Jen at The Canadian Baker, Breadchick at The Sour Dough, Valentina at Trembom in English, Veronica at Veronica's Test Kitchen, and Freya at Writing at the Kitchen Table. If you can, check them all out.

Instead of working from one recipe, this time we could choose the version of Red Velvet cake that suited us. There were numerous recipes to choose from. Some used shortening, some used butter or oil. A common feature was copious amounts of red food coloring. Take a look at that slice. How red is that? Very.

This cake was new to me. It's a favorite in some parts of the South in the US of A, but I grew up too far north to have tasted this one. It is a lovely light, moist cocoa cake with a good crumb. My version has extra cocoa and a bit of coffee to bring out the chocolate flavor. The red contrasts nicely with the creamy white frosting. There is a traditional frosting based on a sort of cream sauce which get mixed with confectioners sugar, and there is also a traditional frosting based on butter, cream cheese and confectioners sugar.

I chose a version of the latter which also includes some sour cream for tang. It's one passed on from mother to daughter to friend to friend. I received it from my friend Lori. It's at least 30 years old, but probably older. You could frost a paper bag with it and the results would be good, it's that yummy. With this cake it is sublime.

By tradition there should have been chopped pecans in the frosting, but I forgot to add them. There were no complaints from in in-house taste testers, so I can recommend this daring red cake to you as a fun cake to bake and to eat.

The chocolate 'lace' decorations are supposed to be whisks, forks and rolling pins to represent the Daring Bakers...whisked, not folded.

Red Velvet Cake

½ cup butter, softened
1 ½ cup sugar
2 eggs
¼ cup cocoa
1 tablespoon cold strong coffee
½ to 2 oz. red food coloring (I used 1 teaspoon powdered and 1 oz. liquid)
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon white vinegar

Prepare two 9” round cake pans by greasing and flouring the bottom and sides. Set aside.
Cream the butter and the sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time. Mix cocoa, coffee and food color to make a smooth paste. Add this mixture to the egg mixture and blend well. Add the buttermilk, vanilla, cake flour and salt. Blend well. Add the baking soda and vinegar and blend gently. Pour at once into prepared pans. Smooth tops. Bake in preheated 350 degree F oven for 25 – 35 minutes, until center springs back when gently depressed. Remove from oven and cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a sharp knife around sides and turn layers out, then turn over. Frost while still warm with Cream Cheese Frosting.


½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
12 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2-3 cups powdered sugar

Cream butter, cream cheese, sour cream and vanilla together until fluffy. Then mix in gradually
the powdered sugar. Start with 2 cups and add to desired texture and taste by ¼ cup at a time.
Spread between layers, on top and on sides of cake.

Decorate sides with finely chopped toasted pecans.

Note: The frosting recipe is over 30 years old, probably older. In the traditional version you add the nuts to the frosting and you can do that instead of using them on the sides, once cake is frosted.

Here are some other recipes and some Daring Baker information.

The Daring Bakers have decided not only to call themselves by that name, but the lovely Ximena of LobsterSquad designed two logos for the group, with sort of a James Bond type of theme. It is posted toward the top, at the right, on this blog.

The bakers now number 16. This month they are allowed to use their choice of recipes for Red Velvet Cake. They are transitioning to a more organized group and the recipe is still being chosen by a vote.

The following recipe seems to be the one originally suggested for use, although some variations were seen on posting day. The comments are by Peabody.

Red Velvet Cake
This is the recipe I want to use. It comes from Mrs Wilkes Boarding House in Savannah, Georgia. I know the frosting has nuts but you don't have to have those. And if you are wondering, as a woman married to a boy from the south, yes the pecans are IN the frosting, not on top...and what a bitch this baby is to frost with those in there.

2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 tsp white vinegar
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 to 3 TBSP cocoa powder
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
5/8 ounce bottle red food coloring

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Cream the eggs, sugar, oil and vinegar.

Sift the cake flour, baking soda, and cocoa together.

Add the flour mixture to the creamed ingredients while beating. Slowly add the buttermilk. While still beating, add the vanilla and the food coloring.

Pour into three 8-inch layer pans and bake for about 25 minutes.

Press lightly;if the layers are spongy, then the cake is done.

Frost the cooled layers, assemble and frost the top and sides.

Serves 12 to 14.

Red Velvet Cake Frosting
1(8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter
1 (1 pound) box confectioners sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine the cream cheese and butter and melt over very low heat. Add the sugar, pecans and vanilla and mix well. If the frosting becomes too thick, add a little milk. Frost one 8-inch or 9-inch layer cake.


  1. Awwww I love the decorations!! heheheee Your cake looks fabulous!
    I'm so happy you've joined us - I always enjoy reading your comments and posts!

    And uhmm.. please? please? please forgive me for my temporary brain fart. It was soooooooo unintentional. =(

    hugs! xoxo

  2. Anonymous7:14 PM

    I love Red Velvet Cake and yours looks fantastic! I love the little decorations.

  3. I love the decorations! Great job. I am going to try that frosting particular cake in mind but my spoon feels lonely!

  4. Had to come take a peek after you told me about this event. The cake looks so moist and inviting!

  5. That icing looks so delicious, you could just scoop some right up! I love the little decorations too, so fun!

  6. Those are the most WOW decorations ever!! Absolutely perfect!

  7. Your decorations are very apropos. They made this fun cake even more festive.

  8. Your decorations ROCK! They are perfect for whisking AND folding when needed. I am anxious now to try your recipe for cream cheese frosting...and I just may frost a paper bag with it because I have decided cream cheese frosting in all the varieties our group used is indeed the best type of frosting!

  9. Extra cocoa and coffee would definitely have improved the taste of the cake! When I first saw your decorations, the fork looked like a devil's pitchfork, which I thought rather appropriate.

  10. Anonymous2:01 PM

    Being from Alabama, I have eaten my weight in red velvet cakes. I should have been appointed the judge...In fact if you'd like to put a piece in the mail~

  11. Y'all, thanks for the great comments. I'm glad you liked the decorations...sort of funky but fun and catch the theme. The forks do look a bit like devil's forks, but that is a devilish looking cake, too. So glad to be part of the Daring Bakers. And that frosting?..straight off your fingers is very tasty :)

  12. Okay, I don't know where my post went, but I commented earlier. i LOVE the whisks, SO VERY CUTE! I also love the addition of coffee. I bet that made this usually very bland cake taste great! Yours looks so moist and yummy. Y'all have so much fun doing this together.

  13. claire, yes, the coffee helps. the icing was still the star, but the cake was not half bad.

  14. I really loved the extra coffee to bring out the chocolate flavour. should write it down. And how great the way you decorated this cake.The icing looks beautifully set. I haven't yet managed to ice my cakes decently.sniff, sniff.

  15. Love the "daring bakers" graphic - so cute! The world could use a few more ninja bakers.

  16. valentina, thats why these challenges are so fun. i had trouble making the chocolate lace decorations. you should have seen the many that were good only for the trash. thanks for the comment on the icing. we all get better with practice, right? well, i tell myself that.

    i can't take any credit for the logo. Xminia at Lobstersquad created that and the buttons that some of the daring bakers have posted. i agree that some baking ninjas are a great addition to the world and feel honored to be part of the group.

  17. I made this cake last weekend for my birthday, and it was fantastic! You are right, the frosting is delish right off the fingers! Michael said that I could definitely make it again. Thanks for sharing the recipe!