So how does One Explain the Red Velvet Craze? Is it because the cake is red? Is it just unwarranted nostalgia? Maybe, just maybe, it is because the taste is unique and, if made correctly, delicious. The buttermilk and shortening give this cake a “springy” crumb that pairs beautifully with our cinnamon frosting. Traditional Southern red velvet cakes (if there is such a thing as a traditional red velvet cake) are covered in a sweet cream cheese frosting and studded with walnuts. We have absolutely nothing against cream cheese frosting; we just felt the cake needed a modern makeover—a new dress, so to speak, for the Southern belle.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, food coloring, and boiling water. Set aside to cool.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and shortening until smooth. Scrape down the bowl and add the sugar. Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Stir the buttermilk and vanilla into the cooled cocoa mixture.
Sift the flour and salt together into another medium bowl. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture, alternating with the cocoa mixture, to the egg mixture in three separate additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat until incorporated.
In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and baking soda and stir until the baking soda dissolves; the mixture will fizz. Add to the batter and stir until just combined.
Divide the batter among the prepared pans and smooth the tops.
In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, about 20 minutes.
Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter; beat until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy.
Add the vanilla and cinnamon and continue mixing until combined. If the frosting is too soft, transfer the bowl to the refrigerator to chill slightly, then beat again until it is the proper consistency. If the frosting is too firm, place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and beat with a wooden spoon until it is the proper consistency.
Red Hots (cinnamon imperials) candies for decoration
Place one cooled cake layer on a serving platter. Trim the top to create a flat surface and evenly spread about
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