According to legend, red velvet cake was invented in the 1950s at Oscar's in New York's Waldorf-Astoria. However, Raven Dennis of Cake Man Raven Confectionary (whose recipe we adapted) claims red velvet cake originated during the Civil War, and that Southern ladies made it "to keep their husbands home."
For the Cake
- 2 1⁄2 cups plus 12 tbsp. cake flour
- 1 1⁄2 cups sugar
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. cocoa powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 1⁄2 cups vegetable oil
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 tbsp. (1 oz.) red food coloring
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. white distilled vinegar
- 1 tbsp. butter
For the Frosting
- 12 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 12 oz. butter, softened
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3 cups confectioners' sugar
- 1 1⁄2 cups chopped pecans
For the cake: Preheat oven to 350°. Grease three 8" round cake pans with butter. Dust with 2 tbsp. of the flour and set aside. Sift remaining flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa, and salt into a bowl. Beat eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla, and vinegar in a bowl with an electric mixer until combined. Add dry ingredients and beat until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Divide batter evenly between pans. Bake cakes, rotating halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, 25–30 minutes. Let cakes cool for 5 minutes, then invert each onto a plate, then invert again onto a rack. Let cakes cool.
For the frosting: Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in a bowl with an electric mixer until well combined. Add sugar and beat until frosting is light and fluffy, 5–7 minutes.
Put 1 cake layer on a cake plate; spread one-quarter of the frosting on top. Set another layer on top and repeat frosting. Set remaining layer on top and frost top and sides with the remaining frosting. Press pecans into the sides of the cake.