Growing up, one of the memories I associate with the Christmas celebration was my mother's traditional, from scratch, Red Velvet Cake complete with the traditional buttercream frosting.
Red velvet has become my dessert of choice for anytime and I don't feel the need to wait until Christmas to make it. However, I do tend to wait to make it when I need a wow(!) dessert since buttermilk is not something I always have on hand which means making the cake is usually a production. What I wanted to figure out was an alternative that would be a decent stand-in for the real thing.
I've had this recipe hanging around for a long while and recently, in my day job, we ran a reader recipe about an easy from the box red velvet which reminded me about my own from the box red velvet.
With summer on the way, weekend gathering invitations are sure to start pouring in so why not try this super duper easy cake for yourself?
(Un) Traditional Red Velvet
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cp buttermilk (no buttermilk in the house? see note)
1/2 cp vegetable oil
2 oz. red food color (2 bottles, see note)
1 tbsp white vinegar
2 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder (not dutch process)
1 box yellow cake mix
Preheat oven to 350 degreesTrace the bottom of your 8" cake pan (one if it's the deeper professional grade of pan or two if it's the normal shallow consumer grade) onto parchment paper to form a circle that will fit inside the pan(s) and cut out with scissors. Grease the bottom of the pan with butter. Place the parchment in the pan and smooth over with fingers to help transfer the butter to the paper. Flip paper over and lightly smooth again to adhere to pan. I don't like crunchy sides on my cakes so I never grease the sides of the pan. In a large mixing bowl, lightly beat eggs.Add buttermilk, vinegar, oil. Combine well. In a small bowl, mix cocoa, food coloring and vinegar together until all lumps are dissolved. Add to egg mixture.Add boxed cake mix and beat for two minutes on medium. Careful not to over beat as this will result in a heavier, more dense cake. Bake for 50-60 minutes if using one pan and 30-40 min using smaller. Test the center of the cake with a toothpick for doneness removing from oven once the cake has shrunk away from the sides of the pan and the toothpick comes out without dark wet cake mixture on it.Place on a wire rack. Run a butter knife along sides of pan to ensure cake is released from sides of pan and allow to cool for 20-30 min. If you are going to frost the cake, place a second wire cooling rack on top of pan and carefully flip cake over. Tap bottom of pan, lift and carefully peel off the parchment paper. Let cake cool for an additional 30 minutes before moving to serving platter and frosting. If you are impatient and don't plan on frosting the cake, after the initial 20 min cooling time, have your cake stand ready. Place one hand on top of cake and carefully flip over onto your hand, remove parchment paper and carefully flip back over onto cake stand.NOTES: No buttermilk in the house? No problem! Easily make your own. Place 1 tablespoon of white vinegar in a measuring cup. Add enough milk (whole works best but I only ever have nonfat so that's what I use) to make 1 cup of liquid. Stir well to combine and let sit at room temperature for 5 minutes. Viol à! Buttermilk!
I know 2 oz sounds like a lot. Personally, I love red velvet that is deep and rich in color. Mauve colored red velvet is not as attractive to me. If you're going to make red velvet, then make "red" velvet. Know what I mean, jelly bean?
There are people who treat cake as a vehicle to deliver frosting. I am not one of them. Not that I have anything against frosting, I often prefer cake sans frosting. However, I realize I'm in the minority so when baking it for others, I always frost red velvet with buttercream, just like mom did. If you want to frost your cake, you can find an excellent buttercream recipe here. And if you are a fan of southern style red velvet and prefer cream cheese frosting, you can find that here.
¡Buen Provecho, folks!