Thursday, November 17, 2011

[Brown] Velvet if you pleeeeeeeease...

What do you get when you choose not to add the red food coloring to a buttermilk chocolate cake? BROWN velvet cake...which I actually think could be 'nom-ier' than red velvet.

Now...I had no clue that red velvet cake was southern or whatever til I moved to NYC. I guess I've always been aware of it but...never really thought about it as a 'traditional' southern thing. Birthdays were celebrated with 1,2,3,4 cakes and there was always caramel cake at Thanksgiving, so uh yeah. But i'm all jazzed it's in my life now...if for no other reason than the cream cheese frosting. Be honest with yourself...that's really the reason you like this cake, isn't it?

Anyhoo, it was my bestest friend's b-day this past weekend and, hating the idea of someone being birthday cake-less on her birthday, I decided to make her one.

Now, I make a pretty good cookie and can even whip out a stunning profiterole from time to time but cake...kinda intimidates me...particularly whole cakes and not little cuppie cakie cakes.* (*although delicious, cuppie cakes are kinda for sissies.)

So I used my brain and a pretty spiffy recipe (borrowed from and deliciousness was produced! Here's the recipe:

Yield: 3 cake layers

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups canola oil
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) red food coloring or 1 teaspoon red gel food coloring dissolved in 6 tablespoons of water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place 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 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.


-it says it yields 3 cake layers...but i just u sed 2 9" cake pans and that was fine.

-instead of waiting for the oven to preheat and melting the butter in the cake pans, just melt some

butter in the microwave and brush it onto the bottom and sides of the pan. it's easier.

-for the parchment cake pan liners: lay the cake pan on the parchment paper and trace with a pencil. cut out the circles. (just turn the pencil marking side down...lead is not good eats)

-buy buttermilk. just do it.

-the more you sift your flour/cocoa mixture the lighter the cake will be. tedious, yes. super awesome deliciousness, yes.

suck it up and do it!


-for every 1 cup of all purpose flour, remove 2 T from the cup and replace

with 2 T of corn starch.


-just like any other cake, DO NOT over mix this bad boy! When you start alternately adding the buttermilk and flour mixture, do it by hand and mix til JUUUUUUUUST combined. you're welcome.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 6 cups

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter room temperature
3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl. With a handheld electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low speed to combine. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.


-the recipe says it yields 6 cups...i ain't so sure about that but it's enough to frost a 2 layer cake. yeah.

-i prefer a cream cheesier frosting to this's still pretty good. it'll be something to work on later in life.

-make sure all your ingredients are at room temp!

Frosting/Assembly notes

-after the cakes come out of the oven, let them rest for about 20 mins in their pans

-to remove them place a platter or cutting board or whatever on top of the cake pan and turn over. the cake should easily come out of the pan. Then just peel off the parchment.

-rip about 4 long strips of wax paper/parchment paper and arrange them on the edges of your cake plate.

-place the bottom cake layer flat side UP onto the cake plate and strips of paper

-put a big old dollop of frosting in the center of the cake and spread to a little before the edge (you gotta give it room to squidge out when the top layer is placed on top)

-place the top cake layer flat side UP (again) on the bottom layer and frost your face off

-don't be afraid to take your time frosting the cake. slow and steady wins the race (and also makes it so your white frosting doesn't have brown crumbs laced throughout)

-when you're done frosting, slowly pull out the strips of paper and you have a lovely edge. lovely.


  1. It was some KINDA good, y'all. (I wanted to sound extra Southern in honor of the Southern cake and an Alabamian's birthday!)

  2. yeah girl, F that food colorin

  3. Lucky Dawn. Looks yummy! Hey, I always add 1T vinegar to I cup milk for the buttermilk and it works just fine. Makes good cupcakes too.

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