My birthday is coming up soon, and my party is going to be on Thursday; so I opt to make my own cake. Why? Because it is my birthday and I very well CAN make my own gosh-darned cake.
I’m so bad.
Anyway, my favorite cake of all time is red velvet. I love it so much. But I wanted to play it up a bit, you know? So I decided to use today (after being totally mentally drained from writing that paper…ick ick ick) as an opportunity to bake and experiment with my cake.
I wanted to make a marbled red velvet cake (it was my friend’s idea, awesome one, right?). So, I made a half-recipe of the Waldorf Astoria red velvet cake (supposedly the first one.) and divided that by two, then colored half of it and added a bit more vanilla to the uncolored half. I then dolloped them into the cake pan and swirled it around with a knife to get that ‘marbled’ look.
The cake itself was gorgeous, with a nice crumb structure and texture. However, a lot of vinegar hit my nose (you know, that ‘singe-like’ feeling you get when you open up a bag of salt and vinegar chips? Or…opening up a bottle of vinegar?) And so I was a bit concerned. I was out of buttermilk, so I had made my own by combining milk and vinegar and having it sit aside for a bit until curdled. So, I think that that acidic smell and slight twangy taste was my fault. But you know, the cooked icing (a classic for red velvet, and REALLY tasty, holy mackerel….) counterbalanced that.
What I liked a lot about it, though, was the color. I’ve had a lot of disappointment in the red velvet department because well… most of them just turned out chocolate brown, gosh dangit. But this was blinding, which is A-Okay with me. So I enjoyed it.
Down to the very last crumb.
Waldorf Astoria Original Red Velvet Cake
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon butter extract
1 1/2 ounces red food coloring
3 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon vinegar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray three 9-inch round cake pans with flour-added cooking spray. For a higher ratio of cake to frosting, use two 9-inch pans. You may also use three 8-inch pans. If you use three 8-inch or go with two 9-inch, you will probably need to tack on about 4 minutes to the cook time due to the batter being deeper.
Using high speed of electric mixer, beat shortening and sugar until creamy. Beat in eggs, vanilla extract and butter extract, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Make a paste of red food coloring and cocoa powder, then stir that in. When the batter turns red, stir in the salt and beat so that it’s very well mixed. Starting and ending with flour, add the flour and buttermilk alternately to batter, stirring so that flour gets absorbed.
Place the baking soda in a little cup. Add the vinegar to the baking soda, then stir the fizzy vinegar mixture into the cake batter to lighten it.
Now, dump the cake batter into the pans, dividing evenly.
Bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs. Let cakes cool in pans on a rack for 10 minutes. Flip out of pans and cool completely. Note: If your oven runs hot, cook the red velvet cake at 325 degrees F. The cakes will turn out dry if over-cooked.
Cooked Flour Frosting
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
In a heavy saucepan, whisk together 3 tablespoons of flour and 1/4 cup of the milk until smooth. Whisk in salt and remaining milk. Turn heat to medium and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is thick and creamy. Let it cool completely.
Using your electric mixer, beat butter and granulated sugar until fluffy. Beat in the vanilla. Beat in the thoroughly cooled flour mixture. Beat and beat until the icing is fluffy and no longer grainy (this may take a while, depending on how good your mixer is). For this recipe, I recommend using a stand mixer.