I love red velvet cake. I remember hearing so much about this fabled Southern dessert that when I actually made it for the first time, I was a bit disappointed that the only thing that made it red was the addition of food colouring. Fortunately for me, I love the colour red and the cake was moist, rich and most decadent. I’ve made a multi-tiered layered version for a friend’s wedding with a rich cream cheese and pecan frosting and I’ve made unfrosted cupcakes that taste just as delicious as their frosted counterparts. For a easy and impressive looking cake, red velvet fits the bill.
The other afternoon, I decided to bake a small, personal-sized red velvet cake for a friend celebrating a birthday. I found myself without any buttermilk, which is usually a requirement in making a red velvet cake, but I decided to proceed anyway with some plain yogurt I had in the fridge. Cutting the recipe below in half, I poured the batter into a 4 inch round springform pan and then had enough left over to bake up 4 cupcakes. I figured that eating a cupcake before giving the cake as a gift would ease any worries I had about my yogurt-buttermilk substitution. And indeed, the cupcake was moist, tender and rich and any qualms I had were forgotten. I had reached red-velvet gold.
red velvet (cup)cake
2 1/2 c flour
1 t salt
1/4 c fine-quality cocoa powder
1 1/2 c white sugar
1 1/2 c canola oil
2 large eggs
1/4 c red food coloring (plus 1 – 2 T extra if you want the cake extra red)
1 t pure vanilla extract
1 c plain yogurt
1 1/2 t baking soda
2 t white vinegar
1. Heat oven to 350°. Butter and flour two 9-by-2-inch round cake pans or line a cupcake tray with paper liners. In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, salt and cocoa powder. Set aside.
2. In another bowl, mix together the sugar and oil until well combined. Add in the 2 eggs and beat well. Next, stir in the food colouring and the vanilla. Add in half of the flour/cocoa mixture, alternating with the yogurt, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
3. In a small bowl, mix baking soda and vinegar until combined. Add to batter, and beat for 10 seconds. Divide batter between the prepared pans (if using) or pour batter 3/4 full into the cupcake liners.
4. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool for about 5 minutes before removing from pan, then place on wire racks to cool completely. Frost or cover in whipped cream as desired.