Apparently, red velvet cake originated during the 2nd world war when food was rationed and people used beet juice to enhance the color and texture of cakes. It is said that once red velvet cake was commercialized, everyone started using red food color. The baking science behind this cake is that the reaction of vinegar and buttermilk reveals the red anthocyanin in the cocoa and keeps the cake moist and fluffy.
Update | 26th February 2017
This recipe has been slightly modified taking into consideration the comments below.
- The eggs have been increased from 2 to 3. (This makes the texture of the cake more lighter)
- Baking temperature was decreased from 350 Degrees Fahrenheit/175 Degrees Celsius to 325 Degrees Fahrenheit/ 160 Degrees Celsius. (This ensures even baking. I have started seeing better results when lower temperature is used for cakes)
- Baking time is reduced by 10 minutes. (Every oven temperature varies slightly. So keep a close eye. Even an extra 5-10 minutes can make the cake dry).
- 2½ cups cake flour (Please refer notes for substitutes)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 stick + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons butter)
- 1 and ½ cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs
- 1 and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon distilled vinegar
- 2 tablespoons red food color
- CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- 2 cups (16 oz) (450 grams) cream cheese
- 1 cup (226 grams) butter at room temperature
- 3-4 cups powdered/confectioners sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit/160 Degrees Celsius.
- Sift cake flour + baking soda + cocoa + salt and keep aside.
- Cream together butter + sugar till fluffy. Add vegetable oil followed by eggs beating well after each addition.
- Mix together buttermilk + red food color + vinegar + vanilla.
- Add flour to the egg mixture in three batches alternating with the buttermilk mixture beginning and ending with flour.
- Divide the batter into two 8 inch pan. Tap the pans 4-5 times on the counter to get rid of the excess air bubbles.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
- Let the cake cool completely before frosting.
- Beat cream cheese + butter till smooth and light for about 2-3 minutes. Add 3 cups of powdered/confectionery sugar gradually. Taste and add the remaining 1 cup of sugar as needed.
Gel food color yields a better red color.
The color of this cake is not bright red. If you want the cake to be bright red, use only 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder instead of 2.
Be careful when handling red food color. It can stain your counter and do not use your hands to mix once red color is added.