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the lost cake.

November 23, 2010

here’s a story.

once upon a time my mom taught me how to make her famous red waldorf cake. AKA red velvet cake, FYI.

i took photos of the entire baking experience. well, aside from the frosting, because i wasn’t there for that.

i told you guys all about it!

i promised you a recipe would be coming soon.

then i thought i had LOST the camera card that had all the cake baking photos.

today, i was looking through my photos on my hard drive. i came across a folder full of photos, entitled “New Folder”.

curious, i clicked.

guess what i found?

photos of penny.


photos of randy.


photos of marshall.


and.. YES.. photos of the cake.


hallelujah! it’s a recipe blogging miracle.

for the record, it really is a great time for me to find these photos. why, you ask? well work was crazy busy all day. that’s what happens when you plan to take off for the rest of the week. furthermore, my meals were very ho-hum as i am not feeling so hot. we are talking plain oatmeal for breakfast, tomato soup for lunch and mac & cheese for dinner. and you can forget about any moves. the only move i’ve been making is from the kitchen to the couch!

so, without further ado, i bring you momma b’s famous red waldorf cake recipe & how-to.


my mom has had the same distinct handwriting my whole life. it never changes. my handwriting changes all the time. but my mom’s? there is nothing quite like it. i tried to replicate it over and over in junior high and high school.. obviously trying to forge late notes to explain why i was always tardy or absent from class.


see that writing below? in the dark ink? yeah.. that is my handwriting. a few years ago. it looks nothing like that now.

anyway, moving onto the cake!

turns out, making this cake is VERY methodical. if you do one step out of order or wrong.. your whole cake will be a complete flop. and we all know i don’t like flops. so, you have been warned, follow these directions carefully!

ingredients for the cake:

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 oz red food coloring
  • 2 heaping TB unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or 2 TB white vinegar dissolved in 7/8 cup milk—but real buttermilk works best!)
  • 2 cups cake flour less 2 T each cup (this is a fancy way of saying 1 3/4 cup flour, i discovered)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 TB white vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

directions for the cake:

cream together shortening, sugar and eggs.


in a separate bowl, combine food coloring and cocoa powder.


mix well.







add this to the creamed mixture you started with.


mix well.


alternate mixing in a bit of buttermilk, mix well, then a bit of flour, mix well, repeat until both ingredients are gone.

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combine vinegar and soda in a small bowl and stir together.

IMG_1718 IMG_1719 IMG_1722

pour mixture into the batter.


mix well. see a theme here? lots of well mixing.

time to add your vanilla and salt!

IMG_1730 IMG_1727


and, you guessed it, mix well.


grease and flour two 9” round cake tins.


pour cake batter evenly between the two pans.

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lick the beaters.


and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 38 minutes.


a toothpick should come out clean when they are done.



ingredients for the frosting:

  • 6 TB all purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) of salted butter
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) of margarine
  • 2 TB vanilla extract

(do NOT substitute the butter/margarine mixture or it will not work)

this makes a TON of frosting—assuming you are doing a 4 layer cake. if you choose to do just a 2 layer cake, simply divide this recipe in half.

frosting directions:

you can start on your frosting while the cake is baking.

first, combine the flour and milk in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.



make sure you STIR CONSTANTLY as this can easily scorch and you will have to start over.


one it comes to a boil, remove from stove and layer with a piece of saran wrap.


put it in the fridge to cool.

the next steps i don’t have photos of.. so use your imagination!

cream together butter, margarine and sugar. mix these together real well. in momma b’s words: “Cream them until well mixed, you will still taste some sugar granules, but whip the daylights out of it!”

you heard the woman. whip the daylights out of it.

once the flour mixture has cooled COMPLETELY, remove it from the fridge and combine the flour mixture & butter mixture together.

mix, mix, mix.

about halfway through mixing, add your vanilla extract. mix some more.

when frosting is smooth and creamy, you are ready to frost the cake!

if you want to cut the two circle layers into two, remove cake from pan then take a long piece of waxed dental floss, position it at the halfway mark and then cross the dental floss and pull it thru the cake – tada! 2 layers. (that was momma b’s trick!)

otherwise, you can do two layers and just dump the cakes out and frost between then sides then the top. and yes, the term “dump the cakes out” was a direct quote from my mom.

finally, sing happy birthday and cut the cake :)


this is the best red cake you will EVER eat.


i promise.


if you do decide to make momma b’s red waldorf cake, she wanted me to let you know that you are more than welcome to mail her a slice.. or maybe just a beater.

i am packing and then leaving on a jet plane.. i will try to post while i am away. but, if not, i do have some stellar posts lined up! my interview with body-forLIFE grand champion, emily alvers, as well as a very cool giveaway. stay tuned!


1. are there any recipes you make that were passed down from your relatives?

2. do you like red cake?

xo. janetha g.

41 Comments leave one →
  1. November 23, 2010 7:07 pm

    Yesssssss cake!! I love red velvet cake – and I love Momma B licking that beater! That is the best part of baking, I say. ;-)

  2. November 23, 2010 7:14 pm

    I love red velvet! Except when I make it I end up staining EVERYTHING.

  3. November 23, 2010 7:18 pm

    The cake looks phenom!!!!
    My grandmother makes date squares that are beyond insanity. I basically hide them when we go to family functions and sit in the corner from time to time and sneakishly eat them all ahahah!

  4. November 23, 2010 7:21 pm

    “you heard the woman. whip the daylights out of it.”

    I laughed pretty damn hard at that. :) And that dental floss trick is genius.

    Red velvet is definitely one of my favorites!

  5. November 23, 2010 7:22 pm

    First off, never had a red cake before. I’m not a big cake girl though. I make my great-grandfather’s spaghetti sauce recipe. I make and jar it as gifts (and for myself) each Christmas.

  6. November 23, 2010 7:39 pm

    HO-Mi-Gosh that looks ridic. Just crazy. Just insane. Love red cake! Why is it waldorf? Are there grapes in it? Love momma’s writing. It’s old skool :-) Yours is new kid. Mine is just messy! :-) love ya!

    I want to make my protein muffins into a red velvet version- if I don’t want to use the red dye I would need to get creative- beet juice??

  7. November 23, 2010 7:57 pm

    My God that looks amazing.

  8. November 23, 2010 8:04 pm

    Gorgeous cake! So glad you found the pics!! mmm mmm good. Love licking the beaters :) My Mom makes a special cranberry sauce that my Grandma made as well. It involves grinding the berries vs. cooking them. SO amazing!

  9. November 23, 2010 8:11 pm

    Omg that THICK layer of frosting mid cake…oh i could just live there :) right there in that soft bed of frosting. You told me once I think that you werent that big of a frosting girl. Well, i am!! :)

    Sorry you’re not feeling so hot. Ugh. Sucks.

    And there is nothing better than having sort of “weak content” lined up for your blog, i.e. not much to work with…and then you find photos you forgot about or the ups man brings you something…instant blog post created. Happy you found the pics!

  10. November 23, 2010 8:20 pm

    Oh my lord. That looks delicious! I’ve never made red velvet cake but doubt I could do it justice so I just let others make it for me.

    Have a safe trip!

  11. Nicole C permalink
    November 23, 2010 8:28 pm

    1 – Yes my Mom has passed her spaghetti sauce recipe down to me and i will forever love it.

    2 – I am going to toot my own horn for a minute and say I make a pretty tasty red velvet too so I am now very excited to try your Moms! My frosting is cream cheese and divine though. I’m sure no one will complain to have a cupcake!

  12. November 23, 2010 8:28 pm

    My dad has a recipe for ‘ravioli’ but not the kind you would normally think of…my grandmother was polish and raviolis to her were sort of like a meat dumpling with brown gravy. I’ve never had anything like them and they are SO GOOD. I want to do a post about them sometime soon…she used to make them every Thanksgiving and Christmas.

    I love red cake and Mama B’s looks SO FREAKING GOOD.

  13. November 23, 2010 8:38 pm

    OMG I would love to challenge myself to make that cake! as you know I am not the best baker and if I can make that cake that would complete my life I am pretty sure! that looks unreal! so intricate but so worth it! YAY momma b!

  14. elise permalink
    November 23, 2010 8:49 pm

    sooooo…why is it called a red waldorf cake? im confused. also, ive never tried a red velvet cake. is it different than regular cake? is it just red velvet because its red? this is probably the dumbest comment and these are probably the dumbest questions ever. im delirious and unable to think straight (or at all).

  15. November 23, 2010 9:19 pm

    I love that Momma B calls it “Red Waldorf Cake” :)

    I also love your comments about her handwriting. Momma B’s handwriting is so gorge!!! Mine changes a lot just like you. Maybe one day when I’m older, I’ll have her elegant handwriting too.

  16. Momma b permalink
    November 24, 2010 1:18 am

    Yumm love that cake! The old story is that this cake was first served at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel a lady asked for the recipe got it and a bill for $500……..hence the name red Waldorf it’s a keeper for sure !!

    Happy Thanksgiving to you all xoxo !!

  17. November 24, 2010 1:36 am

    Loooove red cake!! My mom passed down her chopped suey recipe but I haven’t had time to veg it/take the meat out yet! New mission! Thanks for the inspiration friend! xx

  18. November 24, 2010 5:44 am

    Great recipe! This cake is so pretty and I am sure it tastes amazing! I have never made red velvet cake but I want to!

  19. November 24, 2010 6:36 am

    Haha – my hand writing changes all the time, too! I thought I was the only one!
    And what an indulgent cake. Oh my – this is definitely going on my “to-do” list. :)

  20. November 24, 2010 7:11 am

    yum, red velvet! thanks for the recipe :)

    i like to make my great-grandma’s old syrian recipes, some of them are SO good!

    i love red cake.


  21. November 24, 2010 7:16 am

    Deliciousness. I love red velvet cake but never make it because the one time I attempted it from a cake mix I ended up staining everything I was wearing red. But it’s so pretty, especially for the holidays!!

  22. lowandbhold permalink
    November 24, 2010 7:23 am

    My mom has passed a lot of her recipes and her mom’s recipes down to me in a little recipe box she gave me for my birthday a few years ago. I love it! And I love red velvet. MMMM!

    Feel better Janetha B!

  23. November 24, 2010 8:23 am

    GORGEOUS cake!

    I like red cake, not my favorite though.

    I sometimes make recipes from my dad’s mom: chocolate chip cookies, stuffing, cranberry relish. I don’t have a whole lot unfortunately, really wish I did. She didn’t really follow recipes

    I have more I make from my momma: king ranch chicken, chicken spaghetti, some of her cakes and cookies, etc.

  24. November 24, 2010 9:01 am

    This is the best red velvet cake EVER! This is the recipe my Mom uses too, she just slightly modifies it. We haven’t found another one that can top this! My sister has it every year for her birthday!

  25. November 24, 2010 9:13 am

    I LOVE red velvet cake!! Two layers of my wedding cake were red velvet…one for the guest and one for us to eat a year later…It was so YUMMY! My mother makes an amazing red velvet cake as well…my sister and I just sit back and wait for the beaters:) Have a safe trip and a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

  26. November 24, 2010 9:28 am

    For some reason I love recipes that take a really long time to make and the result is beyond delicious. So much love goes into making a recipe like that! I have lots of Polish recipes that I wrote down from days I would spend with my grandmother in her kitchen. I was like 13-14 years old and knew that one day I would really want those recipes… and so glad I did. What amazed me the most is that all the dishes she made came out perfect, and she never looked at a piece of paper or a recipe- it was all in her head!

  27. actorsdiet permalink
    November 24, 2010 9:39 am

    glad you found those pix b/c that cake looks EPIC!

  28. November 24, 2010 9:42 am

    pretty sure the whole blog world is in love with momma b. who wouldn’t be? she’s freaking adorable and an amazing cook! xo.

  29. shari permalink
    November 24, 2010 10:04 am

    Funny you should post this.
    THANKS for sending me this recipe a few months ago! I did finally get around to making the cake part a few weeks ago. I have the cake layers frozen and ready to to do the icing for my sons b-day in a few days!
    I am taking a wilton cake decorating class and have been learning alot! SO I am looking forward to making this cake look beautiful for you!
    My son is so excited about his cake. I had shown him your pics from your moms b-day!
    Again thanks and I will let ya know how it all turns out in the end!

  30. November 24, 2010 10:54 am

    Just give me the icing and no one gets hurt.

  31. November 24, 2010 11:29 am

    I honestly don’t think I’ve ever had red velvet cake of that caliber. BUT, my answer would be yes anyways. And I’ve decided I MUST make the recipe. Ugh, I’m salivating.

    One of the recipes that was passed down to me was from my aunt for her coveted sugar cookies, and I’m grateful that she entrusted it to me. I’ve already made them once since receiving the recipe earlier this year and I ate almost the entire batch. Whoops!

  32. November 24, 2010 12:08 pm

    YUMM That cake looks delicious!!!

    I have a few family recipes that have been passed down :) I love seeing what my parents and grandparents did back then, how they made food, what ingredients they used, and the steps!! What can I say it fascinates me.

  33. thedelicateplace permalink
    November 24, 2010 12:51 pm

    the color on that cake is fantastic! i don’t really use any of my mom’s recipes except her gingersnap cookie one. my mom is of the betty crocker/sandra lee frozen everything/convenience mindset. let’s put it this way…i didn’t know you could cook rice in a pot (we only ever had success 5 min rice packets) and never tried fresh asparagus or sushi until college. canned asparagus is as gross as it sounds i assure you ;p

  34. November 24, 2010 1:06 pm

    Don’t mind me while I drool ALL OVER this computer screen :) Red Velvet is MY favorite cake E.V.E.R. (That’s what we are having for our wedding cake) I totally wish your Mom could make our wedding cake!!! :)
    And, I have one family recipe that I absolutely LOVE that I can’t wait to pass on to my kids one day- it’s called pineapple stuffing. I know it sounds really weird, but it tastes SO good- like dessert for dinner :)
    Have a GREAT Thanksgiving! xoxox

  35. Jenny permalink
    November 24, 2010 9:39 pm

    I only recently heard of red velvet cake, but when I did, I instantly wanted to try it. I am now a fan!!!

    My dad is British. We grew up eating traditional English food, my families favorite is trifle. Or those who don’t know, it’s 2 layers of angel food cake, fruit and jello, then a layer of custard and topped with real whipped cream and cadbury chocolate. I have unsuccessfully make 2 (although my family claims they tasted great), and I am making another attempt thanksgiving. Here hoping the 3rd time is a charm!

  36. November 25, 2010 5:38 pm

    i LOVE red cake. something about the color red just makes it taste better :) (and cooking with mom — or just the fact mom cooked it — always makes everything taste better!!!)

    and i also love recipes past down through the generations. my favorite is my grandmother’s sweet potato casserole. i could eat it for days. with nothing else. and be completely satisfied. mmmm…

  37. November 25, 2010 7:31 pm

    Aw, that’s so special of you to share this, Janetha!!! My mom wasn’t quite the cook or baker in the kitchen, so no recipes here. But I’ll gladly take Momma B’s!! :D

  38. November 26, 2010 9:38 am

    I firmly believe that your mom is the coolest mom ever! I love the picture of her licking the whips! That would be a great picture to frame, imprint on a mug/bowl or card! I also love how her nail polish matches the cake!!! Your cake looks fantastic! Hope you get some rest soon!!!

  39. Heather permalink
    December 24, 2010 9:52 am

    making this today!!! so excited. one question – i have made other red velvet cakes before and just put them into more pans instead of slicing them in half after baking. would that work for this recipe? thanks!!!

  40. January 30, 2011 5:24 pm

    I just wanna let you know that i’m making this for my best friend this week for her birthday. Do you think it would work as cupcakes????????

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