Some of the things I love, in no particular order:
- my Keurig (when it chooses to work)
- my kids’ reactions when I tell them the cake I’m baking is for them
- my GPS (when it’s working)
- Diet Dr. Pepper (and the husband that surprises me with it)
- Penne with Shrimp and Tomato Cream Sauce
- Comcast’s OnDemand
- a clean kitchen sink (not that it happens a whole lot)
- Toni Colette (I fondly remember the first time I saw Muriel’s Wedding.)
- pinning and perusing ideas on Pinterest (with full understanding that I will never make 90% of what I pin)
- Paul Oakenfold’s “Faster Kill Pussycat”
- the songs my youngest daughter “composes” (if you call her songs about me making her a pb&j as composing)
- And don’t get me started on all things Gosling or Reynolds.
So with that said one of my favorites is #3 above. Well…anything having to do with my family really, but I spent part of the day Tuesday making my little valentines a red velvet valentine’s cake. I’ve been searching for a good red velvet recipe for quite some time, and I tried several that weren’t very good. Then I was reminded of Alton Brown. In the space of two days I found his recipe on Food Network, and my sister told me he had one I should try. Not sure why it takes me so long to go back to Alton, but I eventually get there. Mr. Brown, you are a food god.
I did need to make it dairy free for my youngest, so I subbed margarine for the butter and made almond milk “buttermilk” with vinegar since I was out of lemon juice. I also used regular buttercream instead of the typical cream cheese frosting – again, to keep it dairy free.
Keep in mind red velvet gets its color from red food dye. And not just a little bit of dye. I used an entire bottle of this:
That is 1 oz. of Wilton’s No Taste Red. I used the whole thing. Even with all of this I still ended up with a not-so-red red velvet cake.
Sorry for the horrible picture, but this gives you an idea of what I mean. I didn’t have regular cocoa powder. I used what I had (Hershey’s Dark), which could have affected the color. Food god I am not, so that’s just a theory.
Don’t like all the artificial color? One alternative is to hunt down the natural food colorings that are out there in the world. Probably fairly expensive, and I doubt you could get a vibrant color. There’s also a way to make the cake using beets, which I’ve tried. To put it simply: it’s a mess. And I would highly recommend you where gloves when handling the beets…go ahead and ask me how I know. Overall it’s a very time consuming process, so I don’t recommend it. But hey! If you have the time and the effort to spend then have at it.
Red Velvet Cake
adapted from Alton Brown’s recipe
- 5-1/2 oz. flour
- 4 oz. cake flour
- 1/2 oz. natural cocoa
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 C. almond milk “buttermilk”, room temperature
- 1 fluid ounce red liquid food coloring
- 1 Tbs. white vinegar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 10-1/2 oz. dark brown sugar
- 4 oz. margarine (we use Best Life buttery spread), room temperature
- 2 whole eggs, room temperature
- Buttercream, recipe follows
- Put 1 Tbs. vinegar to a measuring cup. Add enough milk alternative to equal 1 cup. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Alton’s recipe calls for 2 9-inch cake pans. I used 8-inch. Spray whatever size pans you’d like with non-stick cooking spray and line with parchment paper.
- Whisk together the flours, cocoa, baking soda and salt together in a bowl and set aside. Whisk the buttermilk, food coloring, vinegar and vanilla together in a small bowl and set aside.
- Combine the margarine and brown sugar in a bowl of a stand mixer and cream together on medium speed until lightened in color, approximately 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down sides of bowl. Return the mixer to medium speed and slowly add the eggs, beating until they are fully incorporated.
- With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in 3 installments, alternating with the buttermilk mixture. You want to begin and end with the flour mixture. Between each addition stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix on low speed until smooth, about 30 to 45 seconds.
- Divide the batter evenly between your 2 cake pans and bake until the cake springs back when pressed, approx. 30 to 35 minutes.
- Cool in pans on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and let cool completely before icing, at least one hour.
adapted from Wilton
- 1 C. shortening
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 8 tsp. milk alternative (you can also use water)
- 1 lb. confectioners’ sugar
- 1 Tbs. meringue powder
- pinch of salt
- Cream together the shortening, vanilla and milk. Don’t be afraid to let the mixer run. You want this completely smooth and without any shortening lumps.
- Add your dry ingredients and mix on medium speed until everything has been incorporated. You’ll need to add more milk (or water) to get a spreadable consistency. Wilton recommends adding 1 tsp. water for each cup of icing. This recipe makes 2-1/2 C, so you’d need to add at least 2-1/2 tsp. water. Just add a little bit of liquid at a time until you’ve reached the consistency you’re comfortable with.
True red or not, it was delicious! My valentines and I gave it 2 thumbs up. And speaking of valentines here’s my youngest. She’s my reason for being on this dairy free adventure. Love this girl.