Making Red Velvet Cake

There’s only one absolutely critical thing you need to remember when making red velvet cake: wear an old shirt. Other than that it’s much like making a basic yellow butter cake. The odd alchemical steps you find in many traditional recipes really aren’t necessary. Plenty of food coloring and a little cocoa is the extent of the juju.

Which is not to say that red velvet cake is indiscernible from yellow cake in the mouth. The quarter cup of cocoa does create a distinctive taste and texture, and the food coloring itself brings a few unique hints of flavor to the party. Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, assembling your ingredients and preparing two 9″ cake layer pans. Combine the dry ingredients in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle (beater). Stir it all on low for about 30 seconds.


Red Velvet Cake Recipe

A lot of very creative balderdash surrounds the red velvet cake, from its origin myths to its chemistry to its odd little preparation rituals (making a paste of red food coloring and cocoa powder, etc.). There’ll be more on all that this week. For now all you need to know is that red velvet cake is little more than a buttermilk layer cake with a hint of chocolate and a whole lot of red food coloring. It goes like this:

6 large egg yolks
11 ounces (1 1/4 cups plus two tablespoons buttermilk)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 ounces red food coloring
13 1/2 ounces (3 cups) cake flour, sifted
10 1/2 ounces (1 1/2 cups) sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened