Red Velvet Cake recipe for Valentine's Day

The New York Times put the spotlight on red velvet cakes this Valentine's Day with an article by Florence Fabricant titled So Naughty, So Nice. It's an interesting read. One of the interviewees described red velvet cake as “the Dolly Parton of cakes: a little bit tacky, but you love her.”

The recipe The Times featured was adapted from The Confetti Cakes Cookbook, due out in May.

Time: 90 minutes, plus cooling

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3½ cups cake flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process)
1½ teaspoons salt
2 cups canola oil
2¼ cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) red food coloring
1½ teaspoons vanilla
1¼ cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons baking soda
2½ 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.

Yield: 3 cake layers.

Red Velvet Cakes
- commonly associated with the south
- became hugely popular after appearing in the movie Steel Magnolias in the shape of an armadillo, with gray icing

*The cake at the wedding of Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey in 2002 was red velvet.