If you’ve never made Southern Red Velvet Cake before, you might not be aware of its little secret. It’s not actually a unique flavor—just chocolate cake with a little red food dye. But that doesn’t make Southern Red Velvet Cake any less delicious or a feast for the eyes. The cream cheese frosting adds a tang to the sweet confection. Everyone will squeal in delight when you show up with this stunner. You can even adapt the recipe for cupcakes!
Ingredients• vegetable oil, for the pans • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting • 1 1/2 cups sugar • 1 teaspoon baking soda • 1 teaspoon fine salt • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil • 2 large eggs, at room temperature • 2 tablespoons red food coloring • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract • 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar For the frosting: • 4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar • 1 pound cream cheese, softened • 2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup), softened • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract • pecans, optional, crushed, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil and flour three 9-inch round cake pans.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. Sifting the dry ingredients helps ensure the most tender texture.
In another large bowl, whisk the buttermilk, oil, eggs, food coloring, vanilla, and vinegar together.
Using a standing mixer, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined, forming a smooth batter but careful not to overmix.
Evenly divide the cake batter among the prepared cake pans.
Place the pans in the oven evenly spaced apart from each other.
Bake until the cake detaches away from the side of the pans, and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through cooking.
Remove the cakes from the oven and run a knife around the edges to loosen them from the sides of the pans.
One by one, invert the cakes onto a plate and then re-invert them onto a cooling rack, rounded sides up. Let them cool completely.
While the cake cools, in an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand-held electric mixer in a large bowl, mix the confectioners’ sugar, cream cheese, and butter on low speed until incorporated.
Increase the speed to high, and mix for 5 minutes, until light and fluffy.
Reduce the mixer speed to low.
Add in the vanilla.
Raise the speed to high and mix shortly until fluffy.
Before using, store in the refrigerator until slightly stiff.
Frost the cake. Place 1 layer, rounded side down, in the middle of a rotating cake stand.
Using an offset spatula or palette knife, spread some of the cream cheese frosting over the top of the cake, making sure to spread enough frosting to make a 1/4 to 1/2 inch layer.
Gently set another cake layer on top, rounded side down, and repeat.
Top with the remaining layer and cover the whole cake with the remaining frosting.
Top the cake with the pecans.