Red Velvet Cake
Robin, 9 Oct 2011, ‘Geography and Chocolate’
½ c soft butter
1 ½ c golden sugar: the raw, low-refined kind that isn’t the pure white of standard granulated. It doesn’t have as much flavour as brown, but more than white, and it’s mellower than dark brown (and more interesting than light brown. Say I).
2 large eggs
1 tsp REAL vanilla
2 c flour, or maybe a little more
¼ c unsweetened non-Dutch-process ‘natural’ cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 c buttermilk, or 1 c milk minus 1T, plus 1T vinegar to sour it. I’ve been told many times this is cheating, but it’s a lot easier than finding buttermilk and then figuring out something to do with the rest of it. Theoretically, I think, if you’re using vinegar, it should be skim or low-fat milk—‘butter’ milk is a misnomer—but I always used to use whole/full fat because that’s what I drank, and it worked fine. Most of that soured-milk stuff works semi-interchangeably in baking—I always thought—you get a slightly different taste and texture if it’s sour cream or yogurt, say, but if your ingredients, especially your chocolate, are good quality it’ll all be silky—or velvety—and damnably excellent.
Standard cake deal: cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs. Sift dry and add alternately with sour milk. Beat hard, but don’t hang about either: as soon as the vinegar hits the baking soda your batter starts expanding. Turn into 2 8” or 9” round pans with removable bottoms which have first been buttered and floured with great enthusiasm and thoroughness. (A greased and floured cut-out of parchment paper works just as well if you don’t have push-out-bottom pans.) 350°F about half an hour: the layers should rise in the middle, and the edges start to pull away from the pan walls. Let cool at least ten or fifteen minutes before you try and get them out of the pans. I tend to think soured-milk cakes are more fragile than others, but that may just be my karma.
Frost when cool. I recommend vanilla buttercream, myself, but as you like.