This old-fashioned Red Velvet cake is a recipe close to my heart. I’m going to make this cake in a Dutch oven, and I’ve got some tips for you that will ensure a perfectly baked cake that folks will be so impressed you made over a fire at camp or in the backyard.
Those of y’all that have been subscribing to our YouTube channel from the very beginning may recognize this recipe from our first cookbook. Wanda’s Red Velvet Cake is in there along with some great stories. If you don’t have the cookbook yet, you can get it right here at our website, signed by Yours Truly.
This Red Velvet cake was the most requested dessert when I was cooking for Cowboys in camp. It’s easy to do in a Dutch oven, so lets get going and I can show you how it’s done.
Start With The Icing
We start with the icing so it will have some time in the ice box to set up before we spread it onto the cake. The secret ingredient to this old-fashioned homemade icing is the Crisco. This is what my Mama used to use to make this icing and it brings back so many memories of family gatherings.
Tip: Chill the icing for about an hour before use. This will make the icing handle better on the cake.
Begin by adding the milk and flour to a bowl and gently whisk for several minutes. You’re looking for a thick consistency that is going to make the icing super creamy and thick. Add Crisco, soften butter and sugar. If you have a mixer, mix on medium-high until it’s all creamed together.
If you are outside and don’t have an electric mixer, get a whisk out and get ready to work those biceps and shoulders because you’re going to whisk at high for four minutes.
Tip: If you like an abundance of icing, double this recipe.
While the icing sets up in the ice box, lets get to stirring up this batter. Grab the red food coloring and add it to the cocoa powder. Mix it together until it is well combined into a paste.
Tip: Look for “no flavor” red food-coloring. Certain red colors add a bitter flavor to the final product.
Take a medium sized bowl and crack a couple of cackle berries (eggs, rooster bullets, whatever you call them), Crisco, and the sugar. Combine well.
Now, take the red cocoa paste and add it to the bowl. Grab your hand mixer or whisk and stir until the batter is a beautiful red color. When the color is distributed evenly, add the buttermilk.
Tip: Slowly sift the flower into the bowl as you are whisking. The reason I do it this way is to avoid big clumps of flower. This batter comes out smooth and rises evenly.
To finish the batter off, add the salt, vanilla, vinegar and baking soda. I bet you’re thinking, “vinegar and baking soda? Is the Cowboy trying to make a volcano cake?” No, but that chemical reaction is going to make the cake rise to be as fluffy as the icing we made earlier.
Baking the Cake
If you’re baking this cake indoors, preheat that oven to 350 and bake until a toothpick comes out clean. I’d guess about 25 minutes for two cake pans, but there are a lot of factors involved in cooking times so just keep an eye on them and when they’re done, they’re done.
For those of us outside at camp, get the coals hot, but don’t pre-heat the Dutch ovens. That’ll cause the cake to burn. Start by greasing the ovens with Crisco or butter spray and then lightly coating with flour to prevent sticking.
Split the batter evenly between both greased ovens. Now, the magic begins, folks.
Tip: Start with fewer coals. You can always add more later, but you can’t un-burn a cake!
Put a light circle of coals around the Dutch oven and a light amount on top. Monitor the cake for a while, rotating the lid 45 degrees one way and the Dutch oven the other way. This will help avoid “hot spots” and keep the cake baking evenly. Rotate about once every ten minutes unless the wind keeps kicking up the breeze. If the wind is making the fire extra hot, rotate every 5 minutes or so.
Check out our how-to video above to see this recipe in action!
Once a toothpick comes out clean, remove the Dutch oven from the fire. When the cast iron is cool enough to handle, gently remove the cakes by holding the oven upside down. Cool to room temperature and then ice the cake using the cold icing straight from the ice box.
Dig in and Share With Your Friends
Now try and tell me this isn’t the best cake you’ve tasted in a long time. If you enjoyed eating this cake as much as I enjoyed teaching you how to make it, please take a moment to subscribe to our YouTube Channel. We’ll post a video every Wednesday at 2:30 CST.
Y’all take care and I’ll see you down the Red Velvet cake trail.
Old Fashioned Red Velvet Cake – Cowboy Kent Rollins
- 2 tablespoons red food coloring
- 1 tablespoon sweetened cocoa
- 1/2 cup Crisco
- 1 1/2 cups Sprinkles, powdered sugar, crushed nuts, etc.
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 stick butter softened
- 1/2 cup Crisco
- 1 cup sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. with racks in the middle and upper third. Butter and flour two 8 or 9-inch cake pans.
In a small bowl, whisk the food coloring and cocoa together.
In a large bowl, cream together the Crisco, sugar and eggs. Add the red paste and mix well.
Mix in the buttermilk. Slowly mix in the flour and salt.
In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, vanilla and baking soda. Stir into the cake mixture.
Pour the batter evenly into the two cake pans. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool before icing.
While the cake is baking: in a medium saucepan, cook the flour and milk over medium heat until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
Beat the mixture with an electric mixer for 2 minutes add the butter, Crisco and sugar and beat for an additional 4 minutes.
Add a dollop of sour cream to the cake batter before baking for extra moisture.
Double the icing recipe for thicker layering.