some velvet afternoon: red velvet (cup)cake

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.

12 comments to “some velvet afternoon: red velvet (cup)cake”

  1. 1
    Rachel   February 17, 2007 at 11:25 am

    What a morning treat-cupcakes and a Hazlewood and Sinatra reference!

  2. 2
    cindy   February 17, 2007 at 3:51 pm

    i have tried the yogurt for buttermilk substitution many times and never had a problem…i think the chemical reaction is the same. which is good, because i always have yogurt, but buttermilk always means a special trip to the store.

  3. 3
    Joanne   February 17, 2007 at 5:38 pm

    hmmm, I must say that I am curious about all this ‘red velvet’ talk.

    The cake you made for your friend’s wedding with the frosting and all sounds so amazing!

    Alas, dairy is off limits to me and thus I cannot partake in this ‘velvety’ indulgence.

    I’ll take your word for it though – it sounds really good!

  4. 4
    kickpleat   February 18, 2007 at 8:06 pm

    yes, rachel, mornings go better with a little lee hazelwood! and red velvet cupcakes, well…that’s the icing on the cake so to speak!

    cindy, i’m glad my substitution created no real problems and i’m sure i’ll go the yogurt route in the future too.

    joanne, red velvet is yummy!

  5. 5
    beth maher   February 19, 2007 at 9:27 am

    I just remember when I was a kid Red Velvet was totally a controversial issue. Apparently it used to be made with large quantites of the cancer causing variety of red dye. Enough to… well… give you cancer.
    But all that scary talk just makes it kinda forbidden and sexy to me.
    It was probably just a urban legend anyway.

  6. 6
    Anonymous   February 20, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    Instead of using food colouring, perhaps you can use beat juice? My mom’s a vegetarian and that’s what she normally does when she needs to add the “red” colour to her cooking.

  7. 7
    emeraldtiger   February 20, 2007 at 6:56 pm

    Red velvet cake has long been one of my favorites, and I made a batch of cupcakes for Valentine’s Day. Hmm…I’ve never used yogurt for this cake, but it’s good to know it works. I’ve read that another buttermilk substitution is sour milk, made by (I think) mixing plain milk with vinegar, or something like that. I actually made these for Valentine’s Day AND because there was buttermilk left in my fridge from making coconut cupcakes recently. Convenient!

  8. 8
    kickpleat   February 21, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    beth, let’s just hope that it’s a myth!

    annon, you can totally use beet juice rather than red dye.

    emeraldtiger, 2 kinds of cupcakes? i hope you shared them with someone special 😉

  9. 9
    Darlene   February 21, 2007 at 4:18 pm

    What a great idea to use yogurt in replacement for the buttermilk. I’ll do it next time I cook up a batch!

  10. 10
    monica s   February 19, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    Can this recipe used to make a sheet cake? I need to make a red velvet cake and i like this recipe a lot- simpler and slightly healthier than others I’ve seen- do i need to change anything to make a sheet cake?


  11. 11
    kickpleat   February 19, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    Monica, I’ve never made a sheet cake but I have made this cake in a 9″ cake pan and it worked out just fine. I’m sure a sheet cake would turn out well too, but I don’t know what size a sheet pan is so there will probably be a difference in baking time. I’d use another sheet cake recipe to figure out the oven time! Good luck 🙂

  12. 12
    monica s   February 27, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    It worked great- used a 13×9 pan and it was perfect- I think it took a full 35 minutes, but the timing was basically the same.

Leave a comment