Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Red Velvet Love

It is not Christmas without a red velvet cake! It is one of my favorite cakes of all time. It is so beautiful and fits so well with the holiday. In Little Rock, I could count on one from Shana's mama. In New Orleans, I could get my fix at CC's. I think I wrote the headquarters when the location near me kept running out. For two years, I've elected to make cupcakes instead of a cake (better portion control and easier storage -- throw them in the freezer). Besides, I like decorating cupcakes more than I like decorating whole cakes.

My favorite recipe is from Sylvia's Family Soul Food Cookbook. I make just two modifications -- 1 oz. of food coloring instead of two and in the future, I'll add salt to the frosting to cut the sweetness. If you're making it for the first time, try it as is. Remember red velvet isn't a chocolate cake; it has a hint of chocolate. It's more about how the cocoa, buttermilk, vinegar and vanilla play together.

Don't use Dutch processed cocoa. I don't quite understand the science about which to use if the recipe calls for baking soda or baking powder, which may be a factor here. I do know that regular cocoa powder produces a baked good that is more red and red is what we want!

Good baking starts with weighing your ingredients. I'm lazy, so I usually weigh mine in the mixer bowl or the food processor bowl.

Alton Brown gave a great tip for sifting -- don't! Use a food processor instead.

What's so special about this? Keep reading.

Add the food coloring ...

And you get this!

Look at how red it bakes up! (Southerners, rejoice!) And yes I had to sacrifice some cake for decorating purposes. I got to use my mini food processor bowl and blade, so it was worth it.

I did manage to avoid sticking my face into the frosting bowl.

BAM!!! Red velvet cupcakes.

Tools of the trade:

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