What is it about Red Velvet Cake that drives people crazy? Some are fascinated by its color. And others can’t figure out what it tastes like. Any way you slice it, it’s fabulous. A 2007 New York Times article described it as a cake that stops traffic, and rightfully so. I will never forget the first day I stepped foot into Magnolia Bakery, nearly 7 years ago, and saw it as if it was on the counter all by itself. The bright red cake with white frosting stood out in the mass of layer cakes atop cake pedestals. Although I had never seen red cake before, I knew I had to try it.
The Times article above stated that Magnolia led the red velvet craze in NYC some 10 years ago. Even though it came in at a close second during a red velvet blind taste test the dining section performed, I still think it’s the best red velvet cake you can get in NYC. See for yourself after you bake the recipe below. The end result tastes JUST like the cake you would get at Magnolia Bakery. It not only tastes great but is also stunning – a definite show stopper.
Many like to pair red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. However, I think cream cheese frosting over powers the light cake. So I prefer a basic Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream.
- Be careful with the food coloring. The chances of your fingers getting stained are high. But don’t worry – it washes off.
- If you are making this into cupcakes you won’t have issues with crumbs. If you are making this into a layer cake be forewarned – it’s difficult to keep the red crumbs from showing on the white frosting. A useful trick, though, is to apply a thin layer of frosting to the cake and then refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. This will trap all the crumbs in place and then you should be able to apply the second (thicker) layer without a problem.
Since this cake was only going to be for me and my honey, I divided the recipe in half. The measurements below are for a regular 9-inch, 3-layer cake or 24 cupcakes.
Red Velvet Cake
from: More from Magnolia
Yield: One 3-layer 9-inch cake
3 1/3 cups of cake flour
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) of unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
6 tablespoons of red food coloring (This is the only thing I changed in the recipe as it seemed a bit excessive to me. I think 3-4 tablespoons of liquid food coloring is fine. Because I used a gel-based food coloring 2 tablespoons was enough for a 9-inch cake)
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar (I know, I know – the addition of this ingredient may seem strange but it’s the chemical reaction that happens between the vinegar and cocoa/buttermilk that gives this cake its distinct flavor and texture).
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour three 9×2 round cake pans, then line the bottoms with waxed paper. (I sprayed my pans with a little bit of cooking spray and then lined them with parchment. Make sure the parchment does not come up the sides as this will make peeling it off more difficult.) In a small bowl, sift the cake flour and set aside. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. In a small bowl, whisk together the red food coloring, cocoa and vanilla. Add to the batter and mix well. In a measuring cup, stir salt into buttermilk. Add to the batter in three parts, alternating with flour. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not over beat. In a small bowl, stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda. (This is going to fizz a bit, which is totally normal) Add to the batter and mix well. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sue the ingredients are well blended and the batter is smooth. Divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the layers cool in the pans for one hour. Remove the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.