I had never heard of or tasted red velvet cake until I came to Atlanta 10 years ago. I moved to the South just as this enigmatic cake was once again rising to popularity and red velvet was being baked as cakes, doughnuts, and even a coating for fried chicken. What followed was chasing this particular recipe around for the next 10 years. I baked a beet-colored version, and another one made crimson with concentrated pomegranate juice. I baked red velvet with and without its signature vinegar. I tried different cocoa powders and every red food dye under the sun.
This recipe is the one I bake for my family once a year. It takes its cue from bits and pieces of red velvet cake's long and storied history. The cake itself is closely based on the classic, with a hit of red dye — always an optional ingredient — to create the signature scarlet color we know today. For the frosting we're giving you two options. One is the very traditional boiled milk frosting and the other is the more recently popular cream cheese frosting. Both are delicious options — it just comes down to what you're looking for.
How To Make Classic Red Velvet Cake — Baking Lessons from The Kitchn