Red Velvet Cake - Recipe and Math Lesson

>> Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I love doing math lessons with Jo while we cook. One of my favorites is to give her a recipe and two small measuring tools (like 1/4 cup and 1/2 teaspoon) and tell her to make the recipe using only those measurers.

Tip: If you do this at home, measure large quantities into a separate bowl so if you lose count of all those 1/4 or 1/3 cups you can start over. We figured that out after a bad batch of cookies. We got to chatting while Jo measured out three cups of flour with a 1/4 cup measure and lost count.

It's a fun way to learn fractions, conversions, and also estimating. Sometimes I like to really throw Jo a curve ball - like make her use a 1/3 cup measure in a recipe that calls for 1/2 cup of something.

We made this red velvet cake for Valentine's Day and I thought I'd share the recipe. It's absolutely fabulous! Nom nom nom nom nom. . .

Grandma June's Red Velvet Cake
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 oz. red food coloring
1 teaspoon vanilla2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cocoa

Beat together the sugar and the oil. Add eggs and beat well. Add the rest of the wet ingredients and beat well. Sift the dry ingredients together. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and beat well. Pour into greased cake pans. Bake 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees.

My Mom always uses three pans but I only have two that match in size so mine is a two-layer cake. It works well both ways.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 stick butter
1 8-oz. package cream cheese
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Cream together the butter and cream cheese. Add the vanilla. Add the sugar and beat well. Stir in the nuts if you're using them. I love walnuts or pecans in the frosting, but Jo doesn't like them so we left them out this time.



tanita davis February 17, 2010 at 1:10 PM  

Grandma June sounds like a Southerner like my Grandma Mary. We had Red Velvet Cake every single Thanksgiving, without fail. I was terrified of it -- not understanding until I was much older that there was chocolate involved, and not something more sinister (with grandma, you never could be sure).

When I taught fifth grade, we had Enrichment Day on Friday, where all the elementary kids could sign up to do an activity school-wide. I had a group of fourth, fifth and sixth graders (plus a few random Kindergartners) and cooking and math worked well across the age groups beautifully. We made soft pretzels one memorable day, and lorded them over the 8th graders.

Good times.

Wendi February 17, 2010 at 7:09 PM  

Is Red Velvet Cake just a southern thing? I had no idea - I thought it was as universal as Angel Food Cake. I love your fears of the "sinister" cake. Ha!

niki,  February 19, 2010 at 9:48 PM  

I'm wondering if Grandma June got the recipe after moving to Florida. Since she apparently got most of her recipes off of the back of a box, jar, or can, it wouldn't surprise me but I'll ask Mom or Aunt Paula if either of them know.

Wendi February 20, 2010 at 7:57 AM  

Now that you mention it, the recipe specifically says Wesson oil on the back. I bet she got it off a bottle of Wesson oil! :-)

By the way - I reduced the red food coloring from 2 bottles to 1 and it was still nicely red.

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