Red Velvet Birthday Cake

When I asked Kaben what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday, I was expecting something I’d made before ~ blueberry pie, chocolate cake or even a carrot cake? Of course all three I can find ways to make a little less sweet and a little more healthy! But he requested a red velvet cake- which is a Nimtz family tradition. I’ve never made one before and it seemed a little daunting. But I made it and it’s actually quite easy! But it is RED and not red from strawberries or raspberries! Red from 6 tbsp of food coloring! I used all 6 and I can say with confidence that 3 or 4 tbsp will be enough to turn your cake red!  I will admit that as the kids were bouncing off the walls with red mouths and a serious sugar high…I was happy to be their favorite chef for the night.  It was delicious and pretty easy to make.

The picture is pretty disasterous because my cake ended up looking like the leaning tower of Pisa- but it’s not the picture that matters but the recipe!

The original recipe was for cupcakes but instead of cupcakes, I made two pies and sliced them each in half to make a layered cake – with frosting between each layer. When doing this- make sure that you face each layer with the inside part facing down! I clearly didn’t do this! I found the cupcake recipe from Magnolia Bakery in NY, but I added a few touches from the Nimtz family cookbook and the result was yummy!



3 1/2 cups cake flour (you can make this by adding 2 tbsp of cornstarch to your cup measure and then filling it up to even out with regular flour. Use 1 tbsp with 1/2 cup of flour.)

3/4 cup butter, softened (this does not mean melted – but soft)

2 1/2 cups sugar

3 eggs at room temperature

3-4 tbsp of red food coloring (enough to just make it red!)

3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups lowfat buttermilk

1 1/2 tsp apple cidar vinegar

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

Frosting – I (gasp) used store bought cream cheese frosting – but you might want to use two to make it truly frosted between each layer!

Serves 6-8



Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and lightly flour 2 pie pans.


In a small bowl, whisk together the food coloring, cocoa and vanilla. Sift the cake flour and set aside. In a large bowl, cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy-about 5 minutes on medium speed if using an electric mixer. Add the eggs one at a time beating until mixed after each egg. Add coloring mixture to batter and beat well.


In a measuring cup, stir the salt into the buttermilk. In three parts, add the buttermilk mixture and the flour mixture- ending with the buttermilk.  With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not overbeat. In a small bowl, stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda. Add to the batter and mix well. Scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended and the batter is smooth.


Divide the batter among the prepared pans. Add cookie sheets under the pie pans so that if they drip it doesn’t burn in your oven. Bake until a fork or toothpick comes out clean about 30 minutes.


Let the cakes cool completely. Once completely cooled, use a long knife and slice each pie in two- now you will have four cakes. Start the first layer with the inside of the cake face down. Add a layer of frosting. Add the next layer also facing down and so on. If you’d rather – you can just stack them as two cakes! Add candles, sing happy birthday and enjoy!


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