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Backstory"For a short time in my childhood, we lived in Atlanta while my father finished his seminary work. My mother worked to support the family, and we stayed after school with 'Miss Marie,' a lady from church. Miss Marie was still a part of that 50s phenomenon, even in the late 1960s. She stayed at home, kept house, and cooked hot lunch for her husband, who came home from work to eat every day. Miss Marie introduced my family to Red Velvet Cakes."
"One cold day in November, Daddy came to pick up us kids from Miss Marie's house. She would not let us leave until we had a piece of her Red Velvet Cake. I thought it was the best thing I had ever eaten. True to its name, the cake was bright red, iced with a creamy, sugary white confection. With a wonderfully delicate 'velvety' texture, it just melted in our mouths. Later, my mother would tell me I had just eaten Crisco with lots of sugar in it; Miss Marie was too poor to afford butter. I didn't care; I thought it was the best thing I had ever eaten."
"We moved north when my Dad graduated from seminary, but we eventually came back to Georgia. When the holidays rolled around, women brought Red Velvet Cakes to the parsonage for Christmas presents. My mouth watered in anticipation of that wonderfully unique, moist, and velvety cake. Finally, I got the courage to ask for the recipe. . ."
" 'Vinegar? You put vinegar in this cake?? And a whole bottle of red food coloring??' Surely, that could not be correct. Perhaps someone made a mistake. How could something so wonderful have vinegar in it? But I tried the recipe, and sure enough, there was that wonderful cake. Miss Nellie, who gave me the recipe, used a cream cheese/butter cream icing on hers, and just sprinkled a few pecans on top. I actually prefer that icing now, although I can still tast Miss Marie's 'Crisco' icing every time I cut into a moist slice of Red Velvet Cake.
"Christmas is incomplete without Red Velvet Cake. It is almost as good as opening presents. There, on my footed Christmas cake plate, stands three layers of glistening white, crowned with pecans. Oh, but what a surprise awaits the cut of the knife. Red crumbs escape the cake as the first slice comes out, quivering in its height and moistness. The flavors blend in exquisite layers. It is worth an eleven-month wait. Oh yes; you know you are in the South when Red Velvet Cake is served at Christmas." Sandy Pollard
- 2 1/2 c. self-rising flour
- 2 T. cocoa
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 1/3 cups oil
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 eggs
- 1 t. vanilla
- 1 (1 oz.) bottle red food coloring
- 1 t. vinegar
- Cream Cheese Frosting
- Sift flour and cocoa and set aside.
- Beat sugar, oil, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla until smooth.
- Add flour mixture and beat until smooth.
- Add red food coloring and vinegar. Beat until smooth.
- Pour batter into 3 9-inch cake pans that have been greased and floured.
- Bake at 350 degrees F. until top springs back when touched lightly with fingertips and sides have begun to pull away from the pan, about 30 minutes.
- Frost cake with cream cheese frosting and sprinkle with chopped pecans.