Valentine’s Day is almost here and I’d like to dedicate this Red Velvet Cake to my husband. We’ve been married for more than 30 years and I’m thankful for his humor, intelligence and his companionship.
Afterall, I went out of my way to track down a heart-shaped cake pan – that must say something about our relationship!
A Red Velvet Cake is basically a chocolate flavored cake with red food coloring: you’ll get a deep reddish-brown cake that will hopefully set fire to your special loved one’s passion on Valentine’s Day. The recipe also typically calls for buttermilk and a splash of vinegar (although no cause for alarm- you won’t notice the vinegar)!
Where did the recipe for Red Velvet Cake come from? Word has it that it was invented during the 1930’s Great Depression by the Adam’s Extract Company in the U.S. In order to counteract slumping sales of their food coloring products, they offered this recipe on free recipe cards handed out at supermarkets. It was a big success and later had a resurgence in popularity caused by the appearance of the cake (shaped like an Armadillo) in the 1989 movie Steel Magnolias.
Cream cheese icing goes well with this cake, although I decided to use a simple Meringue icing, embellished with some sliced strawberries in the center of the cake. You can either bake the cake in one large cake tin and then slice it horizontally in half, as I have done here with my heart-shaped cake. Or you can bake the cake in two separate round 20 cm (8 inch) cake pans.
Meringue icing and sliced strawberries placed on base layer of the cake
In order to photograph my cake, I found some velvet material I had used over 25 years ago to make my little daughter a velveteen dress. How fortunate that I had kept the material after all these years!
- 225 g butter, softened
- 1 ½ cups caster sugar
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- 2 cups self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ cup cocoa
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- ¼ cup red food coloring
- 1 punnet fresh strawberries
- Meringue Icing:
- 4 eggwhites at room temperature
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup fine caster sugar
- Pre-heat oven to 160 C (325 F).
- Add butter, sugar and vanilla extract to a bowl and beat with electric mixer until creamy and smooth. Add one egg at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Add the buttermilk, vinegar and red food coloring and beat until smooth.
- In separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and cocoa. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing after each addition.
- Line a heart-shape cake pan (or two 20 cm (8 inch) round cake pans) with non-stick baking paper. Pour the cake batter into the pan and smooth the top with a palette knife.
- Bake for 1 hour or until cooked when tested with a toothpick or skewer. Let cool on a wire wrack.
- To prepare the Meringue Icing, combine four egg whites with a pinch of salt. Beat on high with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the caster sugar, beating on high until the mixture is shiny and smooth.
- Slice the cake in half horizontally with a serrated knife and place the base on a serving dish. Spread half of the icing mixture on the base of the cake. Slice the strawberries into halves then into quarters. Arrange the strawberry pieces around the edge of the cake base. Place the other cake half on top of the base and spread with the remaining icing.
- Now serve to your favorite Valentine!