Red Velvet Cake Recipe
photograph by Matt Hulsman

Yield: 12 servings.

Vegetable oil for the pans
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine salt
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
1½ cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 (1-ounce) bottle red food coloring
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Crushed pecans (optional)

Cream Cheese Frosting:
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly oil and flour three 9-inch cake pans.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In another large bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla.

Using a standing mixer, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and a smooth batter is formed.

Divide the cake batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Place the pans in the oven, spaced evenly apart. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through the cooking, for about 30 minutes, until the cake pulls away from the side of the pans, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.

Remove the cakes from the oven and run a knife around the edges to loosen them from the sides of the pans. One at a time, invert the cakes onto a plate and then re-invert them onto a cooling rack, rounded sides up. Let cool completely.

To make the frosting, use a standing mixer to beat the softened butter and cream cheese until well blended. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until fluffy.

To frost the cake, place one layer, rounded side down, in the middle of a cake stand. Using a palette knife or offset spatula, spread some of the cream cheese frosting over the top of the cake. (Spread enough frosting to make a ¼- to ½-inch layer.) Carefully set another layer on top, rounded side down, and repeat. Top with the remaining layer, rounded side up, and cover the entire cake with the remaining frosting. Sprinkle the top with pecans (optional).

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Lynn Wells is a personal chef with more than 20 years of experience in the food and hospitality industry and a degree in Nutrition Management from UNCG.