I have been dancing the tango with Red Velvet Cake for some years now.  Just when I think I can turn my face away and retire my quest for the perfect recipe, the scarlet vixen has me pressed to her cheek striding across the dance floor once again.

Our love affair is always reignited in the month of February.  The marketing machines of the world are pressing Valentine’s Day upon us and my palate cannot resist cupid’s arrow.  Festive, moist, red cake topped with classic cream cheese frosting… I am dazed with desire.

What is it about Red Velvet Cake that has captured my heart?  Well, even more than most cakes, there is an element of chemistry that makes this cake right.  That magical mixture of baking soda and vinegar gives me a mad-scientist high.  Second, this cake plays hard to get.  Recipes vary greatly and have often disappointed only fueling my longing to test, try, bake and separate the good from the bad.

This year’s Red Velvet Cake recipe comes from my sister.  If you have been reading my blog long, you will know she is the source of many of my winners.  I don’t usually favor the use of shortening and full bottles of food coloring in my baking.  But, as with everyone that we love, we make exceptions for the smallest incompatibilities.

Red Velvet Cake

Makes about 24 cupcakes or one 9-inch layer cake.

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ounces red food coloring
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon white vinegar

Grease two 9 inch round pans or line muffin pans with paper liners for cupcakes (makes approx. 2 doz.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make a paste of cocoa and food coloring. Set aside.

Combine the buttermilk, salt and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the shortening and 1 1/2 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the cocoa mixture. Beat in the buttermilk mixture alternately with the flour, mixing just until incorporated. Stir together baking soda and vinegar, then gently fold into the cake batter.

Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

* For cupcakes, fill each liner approximately 2/3 full. Bake 15 – 20 minutes.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 lb. cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix cream cheese and butter and sugar until fluffy; about 5 minutes. Add vanilla

 

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