The popular legend of how Red Velvet originated is sometime around the 1950’s a woman asked for the recipe for the delicious red velvet cake she was served at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. This was the hotel’s signature cake, and the hotel billed the woman $100 or more for the recipe. Upset over the charge, she passed the recipe along to everyone she knew.
Many Red Velvet Cake recipes today use a cream cheese frosting, which is undeniably delicious. But Instead, I have chosen a rich Vanilla Buttercream Frosting with perfectly complements the light chocolaty flavor and moistness of the cake. The coconut garnish adds an extra sweet crunch along with a stunning white elegance. Serve this cake as a special weekend treat, or as the centerpiece to your holiday dessert table.
Help: Cake Hints and Tips, Chocolate Types
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- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) liquid red food coloring
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar or white vinegar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- About 1 cup shredded or flaked sweetened coconut
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda; sift or whisk together to mix. Set aside.
- In a small mixing bowl, stir the buttermilk, vanilla, liquid red food coloring, and vinegar together. Set aside.
- In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Tip: To cream, start by placing the butter in the bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed begin by beating the butter about 1 minute until it is smooth and light in color. With the mixer still on medium speed, slowly add the sugar to the butter, either one tablespoon at a time, or in a very slow steady stream, taking from 4 to 8 minutes to add all of the sugar, and beating until the butter and sugar are fully incorporated and the mixture is a light, or pale yellow color, with a fluffy texture. While adding the sugar, stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the mixture off the paddle and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly.
- Add eggs one at a time, beating until thoroughly mixed. Tip: For each egg, crack the egg into a small bowl and whisk with a fork to thoroughly break up the egg before adding to the creamed mixture. Start with the mixer on low speed so the liquid from the egg doesn’t splatter, once the egg is partially mixed increase the speed to medium. Each egg should be fully incorporated into the mixture before adding the next egg, taking about one minute to blend in each egg.
- With the mixer on low speed, add about one third of the flour mixture, mix just until the flour is almost completely blended. Scrape the bowl down, and add about one half of the buttermilk mixture, blending just until mixed. Scrape the bowl down again and continue alternating with the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture, ending with the last portion of the flour, and stirring just until blended.
- Bake: Spoon the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with the back of a large spoon. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a long toothpick, wooden skewer, or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Place pans on a wire cooling rack to cool for 10 to 15 minutes then remove cake from the pans and place the cake on the wire cooling rack to finish cooling.
- In a medium heavy saucepan, add the flour, and using a wire whisk, slowly whisk in the milk, whisking until the sauce is smooth and free of lumps. Place the pan over medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce comes to a boil and thickens, 5 to 10 minutes. Boil and whisk for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, and set aside to cool to room temperature, or a tepid temperature. While cooling, whisk frequently to keep the sauce smooth. Tip: If the sauce is too warm when added to the creamed butter mixture it will melt the butter. If the sauce is too cold it will not blend smoothly.
- Meanwhile, prepare the butter and sugar when the sauce is almost cooled to the right temperature. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Gradually add the cooled sauce, adding 2 to 3 tablespoons at a time, beating about 20 seconds between each addition. Add the vanilla and continue to beat for another 1 to 2 minutes to thoroughly blend and the frosting is somewhat fluffy.
- The frosting should be used immediately, or refrigerate until needed.
- Using a long serrated kitchen knife, split each cake into 2 horizontal layers. Reserve any crumbs that occur from slicing to sprinkle on top of the frosted cake, if desired. Tip: Cut one of the cake layers so that the bottom half is thicker than the top half, and use the thicker bottom half as the 1st layer to provide a good base to support the upper layers.
- Place the thicker bottom half of the layers on a cake plate. Using an offset spatula spread about 1 cup frosting over the layer. Repeat with the next two layers. Place the last cake layer on top. Cover the sides and top of the cake with the remaining frosting. Spread the frosting as smooth as possible over the top and sides.
- Gently press coconut around the sides of the cake. Sprinkle the top of the cake with cake crumbs, if desired.