I can't believe I've gone through most of my baking life and never had red velvet cake until a few years ago. Where have I been?? I LOVE this cake. I first tried it when one of my coworkers, Nathan, had me try a test piece of a red velvet cake he was making for his mom (is that cute or what? I rarely meet guys who bake). When I was in New York a couple of years ago on a foodie trip, I visited every bakery I knew of or could find in Manhattan and came upon the red velvet cake from the Buttercup Bake Shop. It was fabulous!
I also heard of a bakery in New Orleans called Gambino's and people raved about their red velvet cake. I haven't made it to New Orleans yet but I always wanted to try their red velvet cake. Gambino's does ship but it's $70 for a cake! I couldn't bring myself to spring for it (hey, I'm cheap) but I came close to pulling the trigger so many times. Thankfully, I had an awesome boss who, last Christmas, for a holiday gift, he (or rather his exec assistant, Tess) ordered me the red velvet cake from Gambino's. They shipped it to the office and Tess drove it to my house to drop it off as my boss was on vacation. It was terrific. Not sure I would've paid $70 for it but that made the gift even more perfect, lol. I was able to share it with my family as one of our Christmas desserts. The picture of the whole, unsliced cake is the Gambino's one. For those who can't spring $70 for a Gambino's cake either, you can also get a slice of red velvet cake from the California Pizza Kitchen - it's not Gambino's or Buttercup's but it's still pretty good.
After that, I went through a period of trying recipe after recipe for red velvet cake. Most of them were just "okay" but none really came up to snuff. Some were too heavy, some not moist enough, some not "red" enough and some didn't have that much flavor. This past March, I was on a ski trip with my church singles group (ASCSA) and one of my condo mates, Diane, mentioned she had a red velvet cake recipe. Diane later sent me the recipe and yep, that one was the winner (pictured with the big ol' slices already cut out). I don't know how widely I'm allowed to share it so I'm not going to post it here but if anyone wants to try a good red velvet cake recipe, Bobby Flay's recipe on the Food Network is also pretty good.
Ironically, I have the Magnolia Bakery cookbook (they're the same owners as the Buttercup Bake Shop) and they have a red velvet cake recipe in there but I have yet to try it. Hmm, future baking project.