Pink Velvet Cake

January 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

J: This cake was actually my birthday cake last October (clearly, we need to post more often so we aren’t doing months-late posts like this so much…).  I know very few people who don’t like red velvet cake, and I am no exception — except I have always sort of turned a blind eye to how exactly the cake gets red.  The answer to that is: TONS of food coloring.  Which, I mean, is all well and good, if you don’t mind consuming ridiculous amounts of chemicals, but Erik and I have been trying to cut down on our chemical intake.  Watching one’s girlish figure, and all.

guess the color!

Anyway, we were trying to figure out ways in which we could get the cake red without using food coloring.  The obvious choice here was to use beets, but what fun is going with the obvious choice?  Erik’s alternative idea was to use strawberries.  It didn’t exactly not work, but, well, the cake was less red and more pink.  Hence, the title.

love is strawberries

Pink Velvet Cake
(adapted from recipe here)
2 1/2 c sifted cake flour (we did not use cake flour — instead, we mixed all-purpose with cornstarch as a substitute, proportions available here)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp cocoa powder
8 oz (ish) strawberries, stemmed & halved
1/2 c unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 c sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c buttermilk, at room temperature
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp baking soda

For the frosting:
16 oz cream cheese (2 packages), softened
1/2 c unsalted butter (one stick), softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 c powdered sugar
pinch of salt

Okay, so, to get started: preheat your oven to 350, and butter/flour two 9in cake pans.  Set aside.

Puree your strawberries, and then pour the strawberry liquid into a small saucepan.  Heat the pan over medium-high heat for 10-15 minutes, until it’s reduced a bit.  When this is finished, it’s a good idea to let it cool (if you have the time) or put it in the fridge or freezer so it’s not boiling when you add it to the other ingredients.


While all of that is going on, combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium-sized bowl.  In a different bowl, mix the cocoa powder and the strawberry liquid together until smooth.  Again, set both of these aside.

In a large bowl (this is the one to which you’ll be adding everything else), mix together your butter and sugar.  The original recipe says to do this “until fluffy,” but I can’t really call the below picture fluffy — rather, soft crumbs?  Whatever works for you, though.  You could do this by hand, but there’s an awful lot of mixing involved here, so if you’ve got a mixer of some kind, now would be the time to break it out.

the basis for any dessert worth its salt... er... sugar?

Next, beat in the eggs one at a time, and then add the vanilla.

batter up!

And next in line, of course, is the cocoa powder/strawberry deliciousness.  Add, and watch the magic happen.  When it’s thoroughly mixed in, you can finally add the dry ingredients you mixed together at the beginning, as well as the buttermilk.  Add these in “layers” — 1/3 of the flour mixture, then 1/2 of the buttermilk, then 1/3 flour, 1/2 buttermilk, and finish with the last 1/3 of the flour.


Now comes the science part!  The reason baking soda and vinegar are in this recipe is because when you mix the two of them together, some pretty neat stuff happens.  And by “pretty neat,” I mean fizzing!  Chemical reactions, and all that.  The More You Know…!

So, get your cake pans ready, combine the baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl, and then quick-as-you-can add that mixture to the rest of the batter.  Stir thoroughly, then transfer to your cake pans, spread out the batter evenly, and pop the pans in the oven.

cake pans at attention

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, checking with a toothpick or knife to see if it’s done.  Definitely check before the 25-30 minute mark — we did not, and we should have, because our oven, being the unpredictable little terror that it is, sometimes decides to run hot, and apparently decided that this was the perfect opportunity.  So, no lasting damage, especially as we checked on the early side of the 25-30min range, but the cake was a smidge drier than we might have liked.


Let the cake cool for 5-10 minutes in their pans, and then turn them out onto wire racks to cool the rest of the way.  While this is happening, make your frosting.

The frosting is really quite simple: first, blend together the cream cheese and butter.

done!...what? not yet? oh.

Add in the rest of the ingredients and blend together.  When the cake is cool enough, frost away!  Two layers should do the trick.  Don’t be shy, either; this cake can handle a lot of frosting.

Enjoy, and be proud of yourself for making “red” velvet cake with all of the taste and none of the chemicals.

let them eat cake!


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