For as long as I can remember (and for the life of me I don't know why), I have always loved the color red. I’ve always had at least one pair of red shoes in my wardrobe. And when I don’t have them, I feel a little less complete. Perhaps it’s some childhood regression of Dorothy and her magical shoes in Oz. I can’t imagine what a shrink would do with this nugget of information.
But it’s not just shoes. I love all shades of red on clothing, jewelry, flowers, lingerie, home décor, sneakers, cars, doggie collars, iPods. Heck, I even fantasized for a fleeting (repeat: fleeting) moment of wearing red on my wedding day. Red is sensual, deep, passionate, luxurious, cheeky. Red is such a good thing.
And of course there is the food. (It just occurred to me that there is a very large percentage of red food on this blog. Call that shrink again.)
So let’s talk about this luxurious, tempting lil' harlot of a cake. It’s color is the exact same shade of deep red roses…of blood…of a cloak made of silk velvet…of pinot noir in the sunlight. It’s antiquey red. This cake is beautiful, rich, creamy, and gorgeous – something to be savored and meditated upon.
The recipe itself is from the grandma of my friend Nicole. My dear Nicole and Gran Gran Gibs: THANK YOU! I can honestly say this is one of the best things to come out of my humble little kitchen. And I encourage you all to try this so you can say the same!
I offer you the exquisite aesthetic combination found in just about everything I really love: something old, something new, something borrowed, something…red.
GRAN GRAN GIBS’ RED VELVET CAKE
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
2 sticks butter, softened
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 to 2 ounces red food coloring
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour two round 9-inch cake pans. Set aside.
Using a hand mixer or stand-up mixer, blend the sugar and butter until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and mix each one in.
Mix cocoa and food coloring together and then add it to sugar and butter mixture; mix well.
Sift together flour and salt; and then add to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Blend in vanilla.
In a separate bowl, combine baking soda and vinegar and add to mixture.
Pour batter into 2 (8-inch) round greased and floured pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from heat and cool.
HUGE MEGA NOTE: Be sure cakes are cooled COMPLETELY before frosting them, otherwise you end up with frosting and red crumbs. ;)
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
1 pound cream cheese, softened (two 8-oz packages)
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup), softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand-held electric mixer in a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, sugar, and butter on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high, and mix until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes (real, true five minutes and no less. Makes a huge difference, trust me! (Occasionally turn the mixer off, and scrape the down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.)
Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Add the vanilla, raise the speed to high and mix briefly until fluffy (scrape down the bowl occasionally). Store in the refrigerator until somewhat stiff, before using. May be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days.
NOTE: This is enough to frost a 3 layer (9-inch) cake, but I like a lot of FROSTING, so I frosted a two layer 9-inch cake with all of this creamy madness. Heaven.