Secrets of the Red Velvet Cake

SPOILER ALERT: Snape kills Dumbledore!

Wait…..let’s try again.

SPOILER ALERT: The cake turned out well but I learned certain things about its composition that bothered me.  This post contains frank discussion about the inner workings of Red Velvet cake.   Stop reading now if you hold especially high regard for the dessert.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I’m free to discuss the mysteries of the Red Velvet Cake.  First off: our recipe.  I used this recipe from, who else?  Paula Deen.  The woman has to know a thing or two about red velvet.

I won’t bore you in this post with the details of cake making, since most of you know the basics, so we’ll breeze through with a couple stops to point out red velvet highlights.

First, you prepare your pans.  Typically red velvet has multiple layers, so I buttered and floured three layer pans.

Prepped Pans

Now gather all the ingredients.  Two items that stood out: 1. red food coloring; 2. white vinegar.  Hmmmm….

Ingredients for Red Velvet Cake

Cream the butter and sugar and add the eggs…pretty standard.

Now comes the “red” part.  You mix 2 ounces of red food coloring with the cocoa powdered to add both chocolate flavor and the signature red color.

Wait…two ounces?!

Yes. two ounces.  You know the standard red food coloring that comes in the little squeeze bottle with the pointy top that looks like a gnome hat?  Yeah…that’s .25 ozs.    Quick math tells me I need EIGHT of those gnome hatted guys to make this recipe.

Red Velvet cake secret #1 = ungodly amounts of food coloring.

Sorry, Paula, but I’m only using .25 ounces thankyouverymuch.   Mix the coloring and the cocoa and then add to the sugar/butter mixture.  Sidenote: thank god for soft scrub with bleach or our counter top would look like a crime scene, because obviously, I spilled red food coloring.

Next, add the flour, buttermilk and then vanilla.  Mix the baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl.  And yes, those are the  ingredients to make a “volcano”.  Why the vinegar? 

Red Velvet Secret #2 = vinegar must be added to offset the taste of using SO MUCH red food coloring.

I told you…the secrets are a little disconcerting.

Dividing the batter into three pans

The batter gets divided between three pans and placed in a 350° oven for about 20 minutes.  I rotated them halfway through so they would cook evenly.  Let the cakes cool completely before frosting.

VERY red, cooling cakes

I also put the cakes into the freezer for about 10 minutes before frosting.  This helps keep the crumbs stick to the cake rather than get mixed into the frosting.  And because I need help because I’m terrible at frosting.

Layer #1 of frosting

I did two layers of frosting and garnished with sliced strawberries.

Cake. Post candle and singing!

The cake was moist and just had a hint of chocolate.  Plus, it made the birthday girl happy which is totally worth having weird red food coloring splotches on my hands.    Also, the work of making three layers was totally worth it.  Look!!

Fancy 3 layer cake!

Southerner’s say the cake was made by wives during the civil war to keep their husbands close to home.  BUT-

Red Velvet Secret #3 = The cake may actually have been invented at the Waldorf Astoria in NEW YORK CITY.  <gasp!>  No one knows the source…but the debate continues across the Mason Dixon.

UNFORSEEN BONUS: The question of “what makes red velvet cake red” was finally answered.  And no, I’m not the only one who wondered…I had a handful of people ask me.  Not sure what we were all expecting….raspberry?

All in all, it was a lovely cake for a lovely birthday girl.  And what’s better than that??

xoxo Flyover Foodie

2 responses to “Secrets of the Red Velvet Cake

  1. Someone there.

    I think the nicer way to go with red velvet is adding beet powder/juice/puree, it supposedly reacts with the alkaline ingredients of the mixture and turns it dark red. Plus, you don’t have to add vinegar, which I still find weird.

  2. THIS page WAS SOOOOO FUNNY….and ENViabLE….i loved it… of all the pages i have read this was a relief AND calm!! no doubt

    i messed around typed in google :secret tips on RVC…

    maaan the CAKE FOOD FIGHT was reeediculous i barely made it out of there with red velvet CAKE splattered ALL over me…. uugh the war of it all… talking about how… first of all the underline spewing of not trusting a cook with deep southern acccennnts

    whether if it was the cable… i dunnno goober pyle…sompn like that

    (jus teasin about good ol’ Goob but they did talk about the other people)

    ANYhoo!! (eyes glaze over)

    the strife over whether RVC shud or shud NOT have cream cheese? someone said oh it shud come with NESTLE cocoa powder…..???….. NESTLE COCOA POWDER? the chocolate milk RABBIT from when i was a kid in such a refine cake???…

    THAT was a dopey comment….sheeesh!!!

    YEAH!! whats that bit about THE SOUTH? ///THE NORTH?

    i thot they were going to start the civil war ALL over again

    i believe this that this cake came from some lil’o NObody some COPYKATTER snatched the recipe and claimed it for his/her own

    the fight just pretty much went from there its one of those KING SOLOMON court cases basically

    i dunno maybe it was a runaway slave who invented the cake RAN away UP NORTH and the rest is history

    i thank you for HELPING ME UNDERSTAND THAT I RrRealY dont have to use twoooooo OUnCES of coloring

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