352: Red Velvet Cake

A year or two ago I saw a cake in a catalog that was decorated like a present. It was a square, two-layer cake frosted in white, with rows of M&Ms along the top like ribbon and a bow on top. I decided to finally make it for the white elephant party we had for Alex’s lab, and I thought that the best choice for a cake would be a Christmasy Red Velvet Cake.

Red Velvet Cake, all dressed up for Christmas

I’d never made a Red Velvet Cake before, but I figured that the recipe from the Joy of Baking website would be a good start. I can’t remember if I used my stand mixer or my hand mixer, but the recipe came together really easily. I made sour milk in place of buttermilk for the recipe, and did use cake flour. I didn’t have enough red food coloring for the recipe; I only used one tablespoon (half of what it called for), which emptied two little vials of food coloring (the kind that come in sets of four). I mixed everything together in the manner the recipe instructed, adding a vinegar-baking soda mixture last. I quickly poured the thin batter into 2 8×8-inch square pans, which baked side-by-side for 25 minutes in a 350F oven (they bake the same length of time as 9-inch round pans). I turned them out of the pans (I used parchment paper) after about 10 minutes, and straddled them on a wire rack and a trivet to let them cool. A few hours later, I frosted with a can of store-bought cream cheese frosting and decorated them. I didn’t have a bow, but I thought it looked festive enough without it.

Red Velvet Cake

The cake was pretty good. I’m not sure that I’d ever had a red velvet cake before, but it’s a slightly chocolatey cake with lots of red food coloring. The cake baked very evenly, and the layers were really pretty even. It was moist; I wrote this review a week after I made it, so the texture had changed some, but it’s still cakey and not dry. I thought it was red enough (in person) even by using half of the red food coloring. This cake turned out pretty well, and I’d make it again.

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