This should work…at least in theory, so maybe let me try this before you do. A lot of creative balderdash surrounds the red velvet cake, from its origin myths to its chemistry to its odd little preparation rituals (making a paste of red food coloring and cocoa powder, etc.). There’ll be more on all that this week. For now all you need to know is that red velvet cake is nothing more than a buttermilk layer cake with a hint of chocolate and a whole lot of red food coloring. It goes like this:
6 large egg yolks
11 ounces (1 1/4 cups plus two tablespoons buttermilk)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 ounces red food coloring
13 1/2 ounces (3 cups) cake flour, sifted
10 1/2 ounces (1 1/2 cups) sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Begin by preheating your oven to 350˚F. Combine the yolks, vanilla, 1/4 cup of the buttermilk and the red food coloring and beat lightly to blend. Pour the sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer, then sift the flour and the leavening together into the bowl. Add the cocoa powder and the salt. Turn the mixer on low and blend the dry ingredients for about one minute. Add the soft butter and the remaining nine ounces of buttermilk. Slowly raise the mixer speed to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes until the batter is smooth and uniform. Scrape down the bowl.
Now begin to add the yolk mixture. Pour in about 1/3 of it, beat the mixture at medium speed for 20 seconds, then thoroughly scrape the bowl, paying particular attention to the bottom by the dimple. Continue on in that fashion until the entire yolk mixture has been incorporated. Divide the mixture between the two pans. Bake for 25 minutes, then check the layers. If the middle seems slightly sunken and mushy to the touch, continue to bake for another 7-10 minutes.
When fully baked, place the layers, in the pan, on a wire rack to cool. After 15 minutes, turn them out onto the rack to cool completely, about another hour.