For some, food becomes strangely more appealing when turned an unlikely color. This phenomenon has proved itself on candy in bakery cases, ice cream shops and on candy shelves for decades.
The Red Velvet sensation has recently pushed beyond cake and into new realms. It’s now not uncommon to see Red Velvet versions of cookies, scones, even whoopie pies and pancakes all trying to sport the southern tradition in their own unique way.
After we launched our long-awaited King Arthur Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Mix, our kitchen put it to the test using it to make traditional favorites like pineapple upside down, orange spice, and pumpkin cakes. Since the world seems to be going Red Velvet crazy, I thought I’d create this option and add it to the collection.
It seemed simple enough – just add a teasing amount of chocolate to the yellow cake base, make it nuclear red, and send it to the screaming masses.
Though whatever you do, don’t send your Red Velvet cake to PJ, who can hardly bear to even type the words on her keyboard. She’ll pass, thank you.
The flavor. What is it? I’ve heard it described as flat, bland, neither here nor there. I, for one, have felt differently since tasting cakes that contain our Red Velvet Cake Flavor. Finally, Red Velvet cake has the chance to identify with a flavor form, even if exactly what that flavor is remains a mystery.
This product carries a bright, candy-like citrus tone that can easily resemble something you’d find at a carnival – the candy coating on an apple, or the sticky essence in the fibers of cotton candy. It’s not orange, lime, or cherry, but can be likened to the leftover dust from a Smarties® wrapper or the flavor that emerges when you chew on a mouthful of Skittles® – all flavor varieties at once. I had to eat many drops of the flavoring in order to produce this description. Yes, my mouth was bright red and yes, my kids made fun of me.
Greasing the sides will discourage the cake from rising as it won’t have anything to cling to (similar to the laws of an angel food cake). And we all know that anything gluten-free needs all the help it can get in order to grow upward.
Cross your fingers in hopes that you don’t have to make the cake three times to reach success. I did bring home my errors, though, and my children did not discriminate.
Here is one of my mistakes. I blame buttermilk and over-mixing for this Red Velvet chewing gum. This might work well if we were trying to develop a comfy yoga mat, but cake, it certainly was not.
So, please forgive me, you diehard Red Velvet groupies from the South. I tried to honor tradition and use the wonderful tangy and full-of-fat buttermilk, but it weighed this thing down like sandbags on a hot air balloon.
Empty the contents of one box of our gluten free yellow cake mix into a large bowl, sift in 1/4 cup cocoa powder and whisk them together. I chose the Bensdorp cocoa because of its rich flavor. I was attempting to release this poor, tired Southern staple from the stigma that’s been attached to it, and give more depth to the flavor.
Just as a note of interest, the Bensdorp cocoa is packaged in our facility and therefore is not a certified gluten-free item.
Here’s the 1/2 cup softened butter by itself. I omitted the oil to compensate for the extra fat that will be introduced with the cocoa powder. Other than the fat alteration and the addition of the Red Velvet Cake Flavor, this rendition of the mix follows the box directions pretty closely.
I love to break the rules in baking, to be honest. It pushes my creativity and forces me to learn new things, even if my results are sometimes compromised.
I’ve reached an understanding, when baking with my family, that things may be measured somewhat incorrectly, we may have a piece or two of eggshell in the cookie, and the finished product may bear an abstract look once in a while. It’s during such baking adventures with my kids that I continue to open to more experimentation.
I’ve entertained the idea of writing a book of kitchen confessions about my tendency to go astray, but for now, I will mostly mind my manners.
Blend half of the dry mix into the butter on low speed until you have a crumbly consistency…
…then add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 12 to 14 seconds between each addition on medium-low speed.
Don’t forget to scrape the bowl well between egg #2 and egg #3. Even I’m not willing to break the bowl-scraping rule.
Once the eggs are emulsified, add 1/3 of the milk…
…and alternate with 1/3 of the dry mixture, blending on medium-low speed for about 7 seconds in between additions. Scrape the bowl a few times during this process.
Add the 2 tablespoons of Red Velvet Cake Flavor and watch the batter catch on fire…
…and glow like a summer sunset.
Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the cakes feel firm to the touch.
While the cakes are baking and hopefully rising like a good cake should, you can do the dishes and clean all of the red out of your mixing bowl so you can use it for the frosting.
When the cakes are done, their internal temperature should read 212°F, which I have found to be the gospel number on gluten-free cake doneness. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow them to cool for about 10 minutes before running a knife around the edges of the pan and turning them out onto a rack.
You can go ahead and make the frosting while the cakes finish cooling.
I used the recipe for Cream Cheese Frosting (not opting for the chunky version with nuts and candied ginger) from our Web site, which starts with 6 tablespoons of soft butter and 1 package (8 ounces) soft cream cheese. Beat the two together until they’re light and fluffy.
Add 3 1/2 to 4 cups confectioners’ sugar gradually (about 1/2 cup at a time) and beat until smooth. Don’t forget to stop the mixer during sugar installments… or oh, what a mess and yet another reason for my children to laugh at my expense.
You may or may not need to add the full amount of milk, so only mix in one spoonful at a time and then reassess the situation. You’ll need between 2 and 4 tablespoons.
Vanilla. One teaspoon (give or take). Stir it in.
I have an abusive problem with extracts. It’s not what you think. I just always think I need more than the recipe tells me, so I “accidentally” get a case of the shakes when I pour whatever it is into the spoon and dribble a little extra into my creation. This is part of my rule-breaking curse.
This frosting recipe yields a rich, spreadable, perfectly textured finish for the cake.
I hope our gluten-free following can now feel part of the Red Velvet trend revival that seems to be occurring in our world of pastries and confections. Enjoy a slice of Southern past and present and, if you dare, think of other possible Red Velvet foods that may await us.
Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cake.
Print just the recipe.