Whether you're planning on enjoying a mouthwatering Steak au Poivre a Deux this Valentine's Day or some other delicious dish, the indulgence should culminate in an amazing dessert like this decadent Red Velvet Cake. Not only am I obsessed with the delicious flavor of the bright red cake slathered with cream cheese frosting and topped with crunchy chopped pecans, this recipe has sentimental meaning for me as well.
Growing up, my family used to spend time every Summer in Captiva Island, Florida. After long days spent on the beach, in the pool or out deep sea fishing, we'd pile our sunburned selves into the family car and head straight for a restaurant called The Bubble Room.
The Bubble Room was THE place to dine in the sleepy little town on Florida's west coast and as a child it was nothing short of magical! The restaurant was a colorful, whimsical cottage painted in bright pastel pinks, reds and greens and covered from floor to ceiling in vintage memorabilia from the 1920's, 30's and 40's. A profusion of Christmas lights and related decorations including a classic toy choo choo train that whistled its way through the various dining rooms every few minutes also made it clear that "it's always Christmas at the Bubble Room!"
In keeping with the theme, the menu also featured dishes named after singers and actors from the same time period including the Henny Young One, Eddie Fisherman, Prime Rib Weissmuller, Moon Over Miami and many, many more.
Guiding you through the experience was your very own Bubble Scout, the title given to the Bubble Room's enthusiastic team of waiters and waitresses who donned Boy Scout-inspired uniforms displaying merit patches earned for accomplishments such as committing the restaurant's extensive list of delicious, unique cakes to memory.
Which brings me to my favorite thing about the Bubble Room: the Red Velvet Cake! This bright red, triple layer cake was finished with an unbelievably delicious, cream cheese frosting yet, as much as I adored it, I was never able to eat the cake right after dinner. Between their completely addictive Bubble Bread and humongous portion sizes, I was always too full by the time dessert rolled around.
So I would take my piece of cake home, pop it in the fridge overnight and enjoy it, perfectly chilled, for breakfast in the morning. Yeah, not the healthiest thing, I know - but it was pure heaven and definitely one of my favorite food memories of ALL time.
Unfortunately, following my parent’s divorce, our annual Summer trips stopped and decades passed as I moved out West to Colorado for grad school and then back East to New York. Both places were worlds away from my childhood Summer memories and life marched on.
Eventually however, I found my way back to South Florida and shortly after getting married, my husband and I spent the weekend in Captiva and I was so looking forward to returning to The Bubble Room. Thankfully, after almost 20 years since my last visit, the Red Velvet Cake was every bit as delicious as I remembered! This auspicious reunion actually inspired me to track down the recipe so I could recreate this delicious cake any time, any place.
Luckily, the recipe was featured in the Junior League of Fort Myers cookbook and I'm thrilled to be able to share it here with you in this post! And if you’ve never experienced Red Velvet Cake before you might be wondering, where on earth did they dream that up and what’s the big deal?
While no one's sure where Red Velvet Cake originated, it's rumored to have made its debut at New York's glamorous Waldorf Astoria Hotel in the 1930's. Other accounts place its beginnings in Toronto at the elite Eaton's department store. The South also lays claim to the original Red Velvet Cake but what's more certain is that John Adams, owner of Adams Extract company, had the cake at the Waldorf and decided to market it to the people of Texas to sell more of his company's red food coloring and vanilla extract.
His efforts paid off and today this cake has become über-popular and for good reason! While scoffed at by culinary legends including James Beard and Irma Rombauer, there's just something utterly delicious about this unusual red cake and its heavenly cream cheese frosting.
Although a little time consuming, this recipe is actually pretty easy to make and SO completely worth it. A few helpful hints to keep in mind when making the recipe include:
I HIGHLY recommend wearing black because once you open that red food coloring, anything goes!
You might also want to invest in three 9-inch cake pans so you can cook all three layers at the same time instead of using the same pan three different times.
When frosting the cake, be careful not let any red crumbs get into the beautiful white frosting. Lay down a crumb coat and then go back over it to build it up to desired thickness.
I'd also recommend chilling the cake for a few hours before serving it to allow the cake and frosting to set up.
While I usually top the cake with chopped pecans, for Valentine's Day I used a heart-shaped cookie cutter and some red sanding sugar to make the heart design on top of the icing.
I hope you enjoy this wonderful Red Velvet Cake with your Valentine this year and hopefully create some special memories of your own! xoprint recipe
"THE BUBBLE ROOM’S RED VELVET CAKE"
Author: The Bubble Room | Original recipe from the Junior League of Fort Myers
For the Cake:
3 3/4 cups self-rising flour
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar
2 1/4 cups vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/3 cup red food coloring (NOT a typo, you will need 1/3 cup or approximately 3 ounces)
For the Frosting:
16 ounces cream cheese
2 lbs. powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
1 cup chopped pecans
) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
) Sift together dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking soda + cocoa) in a large bowl.
) Add eggs, vinegar, oil, buttermilk, vanilla and food coloring and mix well.
) Spoon into 3 greased and floured 9-inch cake pans (approximately 3 cups per pan)
) Bake 45-60 minutes or until edges of cakes pull away from pan. (Check at 45 minutes because they will probably be done.)
) After cooling for 10 minutes (no more, I don't know why), remove the cakes to wire racks to cool completely.
) Meanwhile, beat butter and cream cheese in mixer until fluffy.
) Slowly add in powdered sugar and mix until fully incorporated and smooth.
) Layer the frosting between each layer of the cake, and liberally over the top and sides. Top with chopped pecans.