Classic Red Velvet Cake
I could write a dissertation on the misconceptions about red velvet cake, but for the sake of your sanity, I'll keep this brief. Red velvet cake is a tender buttermilk cake, gently flavored with cocoa and vanilla. The flavor is neither vanilla nor chocolate; but rather a subtle marriage of the two. The best red velvet cake is defined by its moist, soft crumb. Historically, red velvet cake might have been colored with beet juice; however, today nearly all recipes achieve their vibrant hues with artificial food coloring. Red velvet cake is frosted with cream cheese frosting or cooked–milk frosting. I prefer the tanginess of cream cheese frosting, but I may post a recipe for cooked–milk frosting in the future.
Ingredients for the cake:
3 cups (345g) cake flour (not self-rising)
1 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp natural cocoa powder (not dutch–process)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 stick (113g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
1 cup (240ml) canola oil
4 large eggs, separated (make sure that no yolk is mixed in with the whites)
1–1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp vinegar (apple cider or white)
Red food coloring (3.5 Tbsp liquid or gel to taste)
1 cup (240ml) buttermilk (I use whole–buttermilk because I don't believe in low fat versions of dairy, but the original recipe does say low fat is fine)
Ingredients for the frosting:
8oz full fat cream cheese (1 regular block of Philadelphia style) at room temperature
1 stick (113g) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1-lb box (454g) powdered sugar
~1 tsp vanilla extract
Method for the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease cake pans and line with a circle of parchment (this is how you cut a circle of parchment). You can use two or three 8" or 9" cake pans, if you are using two pans as I do, make sure they are 2-3 inches deep with straight sides.
Whisk together the cake flour, baking soda, cocoa, and salt in a small mixing bowl to combine and aerate.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar for 3 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl.
Add the oil and beat for another minute; don't worry if it looks a little lumpy. Beat in the egg yolks and vanilla extract. Mix in the buttermilk.
In a separate mixing bowl, beat the egg whites to medium peaks. (It's imperative that the whisk or beater and the bowl be completely clean, or the egg whites will not form peaks.)
Use a large spatula to fold the egg white mixture into the batter. Fold until no streaks of egg white remain.
Divide the cake batter into your prepared cake pans; bake 30–40 minutes, depending on the cake pans you used. Cake is done when it springs back after being lightly pressed.
Method for the frosting:
Beat the cream cheese and butter with an electric hand mixer until well combined and creamy.
Add half of the powdered sugar, beat until very well combined, add the remaining half of the powdered sugar, and beat until very well combined.
Beat in the vanilla extract.