Red Velvet Cake

My sister-in-law lives in San Diego and we don’t get to see her as often as we would like. Her birthday falls just after the New Year so we thought it would be nice to celebrate her special day during Christmas this year. I asked my brother-in-law what her favorite dessert was and he said it was red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. I wanted to make her a cake so I went with the Waldorf Astoria Hotel red velvet cake recipe and putting my own flare on it. I could eat the entire cake!
Cake Ingredients:
½ cup Canola Oil for moist cake (you can also use shortening if you don’t have canola oil)
1 ½ cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 oz. red food coloring bottle + fill with water once
2 ¼ all-purpose sifted flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon baking soda
Frosting Ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
16 oz. cream cheese, room temperature (two 8 oz. blocks)
6 cups confectioners’ powdered sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
Toppings Optional:
1 cup fresh coconut shaved and toasted.
What you will need to bake:
Hand mixer
Three 8 or 9 inch cake rounds
Parchment paper
PAM Baking Spray or shortening
Cut 7 inch circles out of parchment paper, spray each cake round pan with PAM Baking spray and then lay the parchment circles inside each pan. Spray the top of the parchment paper again with the baking spray. This will help the cake fall right out.
In a large bowl, cream together the canola oil, sugar, and eggs. Slowly add in the food coloring bottle to this bowl and then fill the bottle with cold water and add the water from the food coloring bottle to the bowl. 
You can also buy another bottle of food coloring but it will save you money to do it this way and you get the same red velvet color. Add in the cocoa and blend all together.
Add the salt and buttermilk to the large bowl and mix.
Next add these one at a time and cream together each time before adding the next item: flour, vanilla, white vinegar, and baking soda in that order.
You will use about 1 and ¾ cup of batter in each cake round. Giving you a total of about 2 and ¼ cup of batter. You can make two or three tiers. I always think 3 looks better than two. You can even do more tiers with less batter in each.
Bake for 20-23 minutes for the 3 cakes. Mine took a total of 23 minutes. As you see the sides begin to get a little brown they are ready to come out. Don’t overcook as you want the cake to stay nice and moist.
Let the cakes completely cool out of the oven. 
Once they are room temperature you can mix up your cream cheese frosting. Waldorf Astoria uses a custard-like frosting. I always go with a cream cheese frosting for red velvet.
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
In a very large bowl, use a hand mixer to blend all 4 ingredients together. Combine butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla until smooth and creamy.
Putting the cake together:
One large plate or cake stand to start. Lay one cake down with the top of the cake facing down towards the plate.
Using a cake spatula spread about ¾ cup of cream cheese frosting on the top of that cake, repeat these steps with the next two cake rounds.
Use the remainder of the cream cheese frosting by spreading it along the sides covering all the red of the cake so you only see the frosting.  You can save a ½ cup of frosting in case you make a boo-boo.
To decorate your cake, I love the traditional toasted coconut. It just gives it a simple and elegant look. Place one small candle in the center or many around the edges for birthday celebrations.
Once your cake is complete, put it in an airtight container and store in the fridge for 24-48 hours. I put a large bowl over the top of my cake and use saran wrap to seal up the cracks so no air gets in.
Toasting Coconut Directions:
On a small baking sheet covered with foil, bake on 350 for 7-10 minutes stirring every couple minutes until browned. Add to the top of the cake, the bottom and/or the sides. Completely optional. You can even leave the toasted coconut in a bowl for guests to top their slice of cake themselves.
Inspired by the 1920’s Waldorf Astoria Red Cake Recipe: