My friend Sarah was turning the big 3-0; but unfortunately I had to miss her birthday party. I invited her over for a birthday lunch the weekend after to celebrate and asked her what kind of cake she wanted for her birthday cake. She requested a red velvet cake; which I have never made before–and I definitely didn’t have a recipe for; which is kind of odd considering this is my dad’s absolute favorite cake! I went looking for a recipe–and really wanted a special cake that would not dissapoint. After all, this was for my friend’s birthday milestone. I then learned that Bridget had blogged about comparison of the recipes from several sources! Score! I was excited by the opportunity to try making this from scratch using a recipe that has been tried and recommended. I decided to make the Saveur recipe, that was originally tested by Kelsey from Apple a Day.
This cake, I have to say, turned out so perfect… as a special birthday cake should be! It stood tall, proud and cut beautifully… the kind that looks incredible on a dessert plate at a party. The bright red color was stunning and elegant against the white creamy cream cheese frosting. The cake itself was moist, not overly sweet, along with a bit of tang. It was delicious! I had originally made only one batch of cream frosting from Smitten Kitchen’s version; and as soon I made it, I realized that I would not have had enough to fill three-layers cake, let alone frost the side and the top. Therefore, I went ahead and made another batch. The recipe version I had written below was doubled to reflect the actual amount that I used although I had about 1/4 cup of leftover. I had originally wanted to make caramelized pecans for decorations but ran out of time; so I just arranged some whole pecans on top.
Sarah was elated; and so was I. So I must say that we found ourselves a winner here. Many thanks to Bridget for test driving all of the recipes for us!
For the cake:
2½ cups cake flour
1½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1½ cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons (1 oz.) red food coloring
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
For the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter room temperature
3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350°.
Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa, and salt into a medium bowl.
Beat eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla, and vinegar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until well combined. Add dry ingredients and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.
Divide batter evenly between 3 greased and floured 8×2″ round cake pans. Or, I used (1) 8×2″ and (1) 8×3″ which I split into two layers.
Bake cakes, rotating halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Let cakes cool 5 minutes, then invert each onto a plate, then invert again onto a cooling rack. Let cakes cool completely.
For the frosting: (Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, yield ~ 6 cups of frosting)
Place cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl. With a handheld electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low speed to combine. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.
Put 1 cake layer on a cake plate, level off with a serrated knife, and spread one-quarter of the frosting on top. Set another layer on top, level, and repeat frosting. Set remaining layer on top, level, and frost top and sides with the remaining frosting.
Chill for 2 hours to set frosting.
Yield: (1) 8-inch 3-layer cake