Food historians differ on the origin of this popular cake. This cake is incredibly moist with light cocoa flavor. You vary the amount of cocoa to your own taste; I prefer the full 4 tablespoons which gives the cake a nice crimson ride color. In the south, it’s usually adorned with cream cheese frosting and pecans are pressed around the sides. Another frosting version uses a cooked flour/milk mixture. I prefer the fluffy vanilla buttercream which I have included below. You can make this in two 9” cake pans for an impressive red layer cake.
2½ cups cake flour, sifted
2-4 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1½ cups sugar
1½ cups canola oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons red food color or 1/2 teaspoon red gel-paste food color
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners and spray papers lightly with non stick cooking spray.
Whisk together cake flour, cocoa, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat together sugar and oil until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Mix in food color and vanilla.
Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and whisking well after each. Stir together the baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl (it will foam); add mixture to the batter, and mix on medium speed 10 seconds.
Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
To finish, use a small offset spatula to spread cupcakes with frosting. Refrigerate up to 3 days in airtight containers; bring to room temperature before serving.
Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
The buttercream frosting can be made ahead and refrigerated; if refrigerated, however, it must stand at room temperature to soften before use. If using a hand-held mixer, increase mixing times significantly (at least 50 percent).
20 tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups Confectioners' sugar (10 ounces)
1/8 tablespoons table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream
In standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. Sift confectioners' sugar into mixer bowl and add salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds. Scrape down bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined, about 15 seconds; scrape bowl, add vanilla and heavy cream, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds, then increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.
- Recipe courtesy of James Moore from Cook Like James.
by Scott R. Kline