Make Cake

I've been extremely busy with cake tastings over the past week. Red Velvet is always popular, and a few days ago, during a consultation, one bride-to-be asked me for my recipe.  I was happy to give it to her, even though it's not actually my recipe.  It's from Elisa Strauss, and it appeared first in her book Confetti Cakes. The recipe was subsequently printed in The New York Times.  The buttermilk softens the crumb of this cake and makes it so incredibly moist and delicious. It is an extravagantly deep shade of red, and a no-fail crowd-pleaser. This particular recipe yields three 9-inch layers, which makes a tall, gorgeous cake. I frost it with classic cream cheese frosting (recipes abound online; I use organic ingredients), but it also pairs beautifully with vanilla buttercream.  Now go, and make some cake!

Here's the recipe (thanks, Elisa!):

Red Velvet Cake

Time: 90 minutes, plus cooling

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3½ cups cake flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process)
1½ teaspoons salt
2 cups canola oil
2¼ cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) liquid red food coloring 

(actually, I use a beet reduction instead - gives a deep, delightful burgundy color without imparting a beetroot flavor, and of course, it is more natural than artificial food coloring -- which I avoid IF I can help it)
1½ teaspoons vanilla
1¼ cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons baking soda
2½ teaspoons white vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place a teaspoon of butter in each of 3 round 9-inch layer cake pans and place pans in oven for a few minutes until butter melts. Remove pans from oven, brush interior bottom and sides of each with butter, dust with plain flour, and line bottoms with parchment.
2. Whisk cake flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl.
3. Place oil and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until well-blended. Beat in eggs one at a time. With machine on low, very slowly add red food coloring. (Take care: it may splash.) Add vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches. Scrape down bowl and beat just long enough to combine.
4. Place baking soda in a small dish, stir in vinegar and add to batter with machine running. Beat for 10 seconds.
5. Divide batter among pans, place in oven and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pans 20 minutes. Then remove from pans, flip layers over and peel off parchment. Cool completely before frosting.
Yield: 3 cake layers (9-inch diameter)