Old-Fashioned Cooking: Red Velvet Cake and Butter-Rich Frosting


Photo Credit: http://www.mccormick.com/Recipes/Dessert/Red-Velvet-Cake-with-Vanilla-Cream-Cheese-Frosting

In this modern-day-take-it-out-of-the-freezer-and shove-it-in-the-microwave world, we often lose sight of what real food tastes like. Not too surprising, when you look at the ingredient lists on most prepared foods. Many so-called foods have more chemicals than food ingredients. I figure if you can’t even pronounce half the ingredients, you shouldn’t rely on it as a major food source. On the other hand, just think about beef stew or chili simmering slowly through the day, ready to warm the cockles of your heart – not to mention your cold hands – come dinner time. Or home-made breakfast burritos or Cornish pasties, stored in the freezer for those mornings when you can barely find the kitchen, let alone think up a menu.

Photo Credit: http://www.instructables.com/id/Red-Velvet-Cake/

When I was much younger than I am now, I first made my husband his favorite birthday cake — Red Velvet Cake with Butter-Rich Frosting. I got the recipes from his mother, who was the sort of experienced cook who made many foods from scratch and by eye. I carefully followed her written instructions, presented the finished product to hubby, who tasted and allowed as how it didn’t taste like Mom’s. It was good, he hastened to add, seeing the glint in my eye; it just didn’t taste quite the same. Thus began repeated experiments. I doubled-checked the recipes with my mother-in-law, tried it again and got the same response. Then I watched her make it, taking notes all the while. Then I made it while she supervised. Each time, the response was the same: “It’s good, but it doesn’t taste quite the same as when Mom makes it.” The implication being, I simply wasn’t the cook his mother was. Thoroughly fed up, I finally snarled, “All right, you make the next one!” Hubby, a very competent cook, proceeded to do so. He then took his first bite and a very strange expression stole over his face. He laid down his fork, looked at me, and muttered, “It’s good, but it still doesn’t taste like Mom’s.” We laughed, but I was determined that the day would come when I got the ultimate accolade, so I searched for new versions and tried them all. Thirty years later, the cake below earned the honors. Happy Birthday, dear!


As Good as Mom’s Red Velvet Cake

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

2 Tbs cocoa powder

½ cup raw milk butter

1 ½ cups sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup raw milk buttermilk from making butter (I suspect this is the key; it was not until we had our own milk cow that I baked with real buttermilk and butter)

2 Tbs red food coloring

1 Tbs vinegar

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup chopped nuts

Mix dry ingredients. Cream butter and sugar, add eggs, one at a time; beat in vanilla. Mix food coloring and vinegar into buttermilk. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture alternately with liquids; begin and end with dry. Stir in nuts. Bake in greased, floured 9X13 pan or two 9-inch layer pans for 25-30 minutes.

Photo Credit: http://www.instructables.com/file/FII45MNH5TUC4JH

Butter-Rich Frosting

1 cup flour

1 cup milk

1 cup sugar

1 cup butter

1 ½ tsp vanilla

Beat flour into cold milk with wire whisk until VERY smooth. Cook flour and milk over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. DO NOT try to hurry the process, as it will quickly turn to large lumps. When thick, remove from heat and let cool. Cream sugar and butter, add vanilla. Beat in flour mixture and beat until smooth and light.

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