Red Velvet Cake with Fluffy Sour Cream Frosting
People think this a Southern cake. Not so although it starred as the groom's cake in the Julia Roberts movie Steel Magnolias shot in Natchitoches, Louisiana. The first red velvet cake, it's said, was all the rage at New York's Waldorf Astoria back in the 1920s. I remember it from the 1950s, a food company recipe created to boost sales of red food coloring (a whole bottle goes into the batter). Because of its tender crumb, I bake the cake as a large loaf instead of piling up the layers à la groom's cake.
For cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Spritz a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
Whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder, soda, and salt together thoroughly and set aside.
Cream butter and vanilla at high electric mixer speed 3 to 5 minutes until fluffy, scraping bowl often with a rubber spatula. Reduce speed to low, add sugar gradually, and beat hard 3 to 5 minutes until light, again frequently pausing to scrape bowl. Add eggs one by one, beating well after each addition.
Combine buttermilk and red food coloring, then at lowest mixer speed, add sifted dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with dry, beating after each addition only enough to combine, and scraping bowl as needed. Over-mixing will toughen cake.
Scoop batter into prepared pan, spreading to corners and smoothing top. Bake on middle oven rack 45 to 50 minutes until cake begins to pull from sides of pan and a cake tester, inserted in center, comes out clean.
Transfer cake to a wire rack and cool in upright pan to room temperature.
Meanwhile, prepare Frosting: Beat all ingredients except milk in small electric mixer bowl, first at low speed, then at high, until smooth and fluffy. If frosting seems too stiff to spread, add a little milk, then swirl over top of cake and allow to firm up for about an hour.
Cut into squares and serve
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