Red Velvet Cake

After a long hiatus (no good excuse really, just busy), I hope to be a little better about updating in 2008.

I'm just now returning to the real world after a wonderful holiday. I love the Christmas season—I think it may be my favorite time of year. I can even appreciate winter and snow when it's part of Christmas (past January, though, I could really do without it).

My boyfriend and I always spend the Yuletide season with my mom and stepdad. My mom is a fabulous cook and the house is always filled with good things to eat, things much too good to turn down, and I tend to eat myself silly. I currently feel like a little stuffed sausage, and at least 25% of my wardrobe doesn't fit. Ah well, but it was fun.

One of our traditional family desserts at Christmas is Red Velvet Cake, and it's been my favorite Christmas dessert for as long as I can remember. My mom's is still better than mine, although I watched her this year and realized she was doing a lot more mixing than I was. I made the cake pictured above as a post-Christmas treat for my dad, but I haven't heard back yet as to how it turned out.

My mom has said that this recipe was published in a North Carolina paper years ago. I'm not sure whether it was first adopted by my mom or my grandmother, but I'm guessing it was my mom.

No one seems to be quite sure where Red Velvet Cake comes from. It's generally considered a Southern recipe, although it was a signature dessert at the Waldorf-Astoria in the 1920's (though they, too, called it a Southern dessert). This New York Times article from February '07 gives a great overview of the history. They surmise that the cake may have evolved from the practice of adding beets to chocolate cake to enhance color, or from the fact that the cocoa powder used before Dutch process cocoa became standard created a reddish color that people felt the need to replace (that reddish hue may have been the origin of the name 'Devil's Food' as well).

The cake recipe the article lists is similar but different, and the frosting (from the Waldorf-Astoria recipe) is completely different. I may give it a try for a post-holiday dinner that a friend of mine is throwing. I like our frosting recipe, but I wouldn't mind lightening up the texture of the cake a bit (it's a very dense) if I could do it without changing the overall flavor.

RED VELVET CAKE

2.5 cups all purpose white flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cocoa
1.5 cups sugar
2 cups oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vinegar
2 ounces red food coloring
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 recipe cream cheese frosting (below)
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

Preheat oven: 350 degrees.

Prepare 2 9" cake pans with butter and flour.

Sift dry ingredients and set aside.

Cream sugar and oil.

Add eggs and beat well.

Add dry ingredients alternatively with buttermilk in 3 additions, mixing well inbetween.

Add buttermilk.

Mix vinegar, food coloring and vanilla. Add to batter and mix well.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until set.

Cool, then frost with cream cheese frosting and sprinkle with toasted pecans.

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CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 ounces butter, softened
16 ounces powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix together cream cheese and butter.

Add powered sugar a little at a time until well blended.

Add vanilla and mix well.

Frost cake!