Friday, April 8, 2011

Red Velvet Cake

So, here's the secret family recipe!  Not so secret anymore, huh? I promise, this is THE BEST red velvet cake.  It came from my great grandmother Hazel Wilson.  It's listed in our family cookbooks as Waldorf Astoria Cake, because everyone said the recipe came from the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York.  My mom insisted that to get the best final product you had to buy all your ingredients fresh.

I always start with the frosting.  Crazy, I know, but the first step needs to have time to cool.
Begin with 2 cups milk, 1/2 cup flour and a pinch of salt in a saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk constantly or else you'll end up with lumps.  Cook until the mixture gets thick and then set aside to cool completely.
You can see how thick it gets by how it's sticking to the side of the pan.

Now for the cake!  In your mixer, cream together 1/2 cup shortening (we'll just call it Crisco from this point forward) and 1 1/2 cups sugar.  You'll get a snow like mixture that looks like this:

(I usually use the whisk attachment instead of this paddle)
Then add 2 eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla:

And now, the main character!
Yes, TWO bottles of red food coloring.  Don't skimp.
Mix in the food coloring, and then begin sifting the dry ingredients in a separate bowl: 2 Tablespoons coco, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 Cups Cake Flour.

Don't use just regular ol' flour, girls!
Add 1 cup buttermilk to the batter.

Then add your sifted dry ingredients and beat for 2 minutes.  You'll end up this beautiful velvety cake batter: 

In a bowl or glass, measure 1 tablespoon vinegar and 1 teaspoon soda together.
It bubbles up pretty high, so don't use anything too small.
Fold the vinegar mixture into the batter slowly, don't beat.

Grease two round cake pans with Crisco and then flour them:

Bake @ 350 for 30-34 minutes. 

Don't over cook. (Toothpick test for doneness: if the toothpick has batter on it when you poke in it the center of the cake, then it needs another minute or two)  Let cakes cool in pan for a couple minutes before transferring them to cooling racks to cool completely.

Frosting: In mixer, cream together 2 cups sugar, 1 cup shortening, and 2 sticks butter.  (My recipe actually says 2 sticks oleo.  I called my mom or sister from the store one time trying to find this mystery ingredient, but found out it was just my great grandmother's word for what we now call butta...)  Beat at high speed until fluffy.  Add the cooked mixture from before with 2 teaspoons vanilla.  Beat thoroughly at high speed.

It's get's really thick and fluffy!

Place one cake round on your serving dish and cover with a layer of frosting.  Place your second cake round on top and also cover with frosting.  This recipe makes plenty of frosting so you'll have enough to cover the side completely and some extra to attempt piping.  Mine didn't turn out too pretty, but it tasted delicious!


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