created: 2006-04-22 15:05:31
This is one of those Southern oddities which is kind of gross (due to its garish red colour) but just so good. I believe it is even more particularly a Black Southern recipe. I first tasted it in a tiny cafe in trendy Black middle-class Brooklyn neighbourhood, Bedford-Stuyvesant. My sources tell me that it is now the hottest dessert in all of Brooklyn. I have tried two different recipes for this, but vastly prefer the one here, from Sara Moulton, which closely approximates the moist deliciousness of the Bed-Stuy cake. Caveat: when I made it, it stuck horribly, so I recommend being extremely liberal when greasing and flouring the pans.
For the Cake: 2 1/2 cups flour, sifted 1 1/2 cups sugar 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp salt 1 tsp cocoa powder 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature 2 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten 2 tbsp red food colouring (1 oz) 1tsp vanilla 1 tsp white vinegar Preheat oven to 350F. Oil and flour three 9 1/2 inch round cake pans (I guess you could try using two, but I'm not sure how well the cakes would cook). In a large bowl, whisk together, flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. In another bowl, whisk together oil, buttermilk, eggs, food colouring, vanilla and vinegar. Using a standing mixer, combine wet and dry ingredients. Do not overbeat. Divide cake batter evenly among the three cake pans. Bake (rotating pans halfway through) until the cakes pull away from the sides and/or a tester comes out clean - about 30 minutes. Remove cakes from oven and run a knife around edges to loosen them. One at a time, invert cakes onto plate and then re-invert onto cooling racks. Allow to cool completely. For the Cream Cheese Frosting: 1 lb cream cheese, softened 4 cups icing sugar, softened 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened 1 tsp vanilla Crushed or halved pecans, for garnish In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix cream cheese, butter and sugar on low speed until incorporated. Increase speed to high, and beat until fluffy, about 5 minutes (occasionally, turn off mixer and scrape down sides with spatula). Reduce speed to low, add vanilla, raise speed to high and mix briefly. Store in refrigerator until somewhat stiff (keeps up to 3 days). Frost the cake: Place 1 layer, rounded side down, in the middle of a rotating cake stand (should you be so lucky as to have such a thing - otherwise, a good-sized plate will do). Using an offset spatula (or knife) spread some of the frosting over the top of the cake (enough to form 1/4 - 1/2 inch layer). Carefully set another layer on top, rounded side down, and repeat. Repeat with top layer and cover entire cake with remaining frosting. Sprinkle or otherwise bedeck with pecans.