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from "Small-Batch Baking" by Debby Maugans Nakos

Red Velvet Cake was my childhood favorite because it was chocolate and it was red like my birthstone, the ruby. It was just barely chocolate — the cake typically had only a few teaspoons of cocoa powder in it. There was nothing subtle about the color, however, because it took as much as two ounces of red food coloring to produce that shade of red. This version is a bit more subdued in color but definitely not in flavor, and it has a frosting you'll want to make again and again.

Makes 2 small cakes; serves 2
 Small-Batch Baking

Unsalted butter, at room temperature, for greasing the cans
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for flouring the cans
1/2 teaspoon red food coloring
3 tablespoons buttermilk
Yolk of 1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar

Boiled Cream Cheese Frosting
1/4 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Pans required:
Two 14- or 14.5-ounce cans (see note)
1 baking sheet

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1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Grease the insides of the cans and lightly dust them with flour, tapping out the excess. Place the cans on a baking sheet, and set aside.
3. Combine the buttermilk, egg yolk, and vanilla in a small bowl, and whisk to mix. Gradually pour the melted butter into the buttermilk mixture, whisking constantly.
4. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium-size mixing bowl, and then whisk to blend well. Add the sugar and whisk to combine. Add the buttermilk mixture and whisk just until the dry ingredients are moistened.
5. Stir the red food coloring into the batter, and spoon the batter into the prepared cans, dividing it evenly between them. Place the cakes in the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
6. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the cans to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Then run a thin, sharp knife around the edge of each can and invert them to release the cakes. Set the cakes upright on the rack and let them cool completely.
7. To frost the cakes, cut each in half horizontally. Spread a layer of the frosting about 1/4 inch thick on the cut side of one cake half, then stack the other half on top of it. Frost the top and sides. Repeat with the remaining cake and frosting. (The cakes can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Let them come to room temperature before serving.)

Boiled Cream Cheese Frosting
1. Pour the milk into a small microwave-safe bowl and add the flour, beating with a fork until it is smooth. Microwave on high power to form a thick mixture resembling a paste, about 30 seconds. Then beat the mixture with a fork until smooth. If the mixture is not thick enough, microwave for 20 seconds longer and then beat with a fork until it is smooth. Let the paste cool to room temperature, beating with a fork occasionally to prevent lumps from forming.
2. Place the butter, cream cheese, sugar, and salt in a small bowl and beat with a hand-held electric mixer until well blended, about 1 minute. Add the cooled flour mixture and vanilla, and beat the frosting until it is spreadable. Use immediately.
NOTE: You may be surprised to know that when you cut off the tops of empty 14- to 15-ounce cans neatly with a can opener, remove the labels, and wash out the cans thoroughly in the dishwasher, they make wonderful baking pans. The 14- to 15-ounce cans hold just the right amount of batter for a two-layer cake, and an 8-ounce can is a good size for baking single-layer cakes. For easy removal of the baked cakes, you simply butter the inside of the can and cut out a circle of parchment to fit snugly into the bottom. Be sure to use only cans that have no nicks or dents.

Buy The Ingredients
Product nutrition and information
 Quantity Ingredients Est.Price
  Breakstone's All-Natural Unsalted Butter - $3.99/ea
 2ct, 4oz ea
  McCormick Assorted Food Color - $5.99/ea
 1fl oz
  Farmland Cultured Lowfat Buttermilk
This product is currently unavailable.
  Spice Select Pure Vanilla Extract - $8.99/ea
 2fl oz
  Hershey's Baking Cocoa - $4.99/ea
  Philadelphia Cream Cheese Spread - $3.99/ea
You May Already Have
  Just FreshDirect Unbleached All-Purpose Flour - $4.29/ea
  Alderfer Eggs Grade A Large Organic Eggs
This product is currently unavailable.
  Arm & Hammer Baking Soda - $1.39/ea
  La Baleine Fine Sea Salt - $4.69/ea
  Domino Granulated White Sugar - $2.79/ea
  Ronnybrook All Natural Creamline Milk, Plastic Bottle - $1.99/ea
Estimated Total:  
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