I rarely make red velvet cake, because most recipes call for vinegar and the smell of vinegar makes my stomach turn. But, when faced with a special request from the best friend who wants to christen his new dining table with a decadent dessert, I decided to steal my stomach and make the cake.  As luck would have it, this Southern Living version uses sour cream instead of vinegar — so he gets his cake and I have a much more pleasant afternoon of baking.


1 cup organic unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups organic sugar
6 large organic, cage free eggs
3 cups all-purpose organic flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened Ghirardelli cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
2 teaspoons organic vanilla extract
1 1-oz bottle red food coloring (the original called for 2)

2 8 oz packages of light cream cheese
1/2 cup unsalted organic butter
32 oz powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla

How I made it:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Beat the butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy, then add the sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. 

Sift the flour, cocoa, and baking soda together in a separate bowl. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in batches, alternating with the sour cream. Beat at low speed until blended, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. The recipe called for beating until “just blended,” but I went ahead and let it go until it was smooth. Add the vanilla and the red food coloring.

With a rubber spatula, spread the batter in two 9 inch cake pans. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Turn out on a cooling rack covered by a tea towel (to prevent grid marks). Let cool completely.

When ready to frost, beat the cream cheese, butter, sugar, and vanilla together until fluffy. Frost completely, or just between the layers and on top (to highlight the red color). Garnish with dark chocolate curls and fresh raspberries.

The results:

Not all the reviews of the recipe were great, so when the butter and sugar didn’t achieve the usual fluffy yellow consistency, I started to worry. When I added the eggs, it got kind of soupy — so I was really worried.  Once the flour and sour cream were blended, things were looking better. 

Then I learned an important lesson: don’t add red food color while the mixer is on.  What a mess!

From just a few errant drops, I managed to get my shirt, the counter, the fridge and the floor. The original recipe called for two one ounce bottles of food color, but I got a vibrant red color from just the one.

The cake smelled chocolately right out of the oven, and tasted okay. It’s extremely dense (translate as “your cake taker will weigh a ton”). While the cake was only okay, the frosting was AMAZING!  So, I’d give it 3 out of 5 stars.

This recipe is also available at MyRecipes.com.