American Classics: "Lazy" Red Velvet Cake

American Classics

Lost classic desserts from our wide and varied past.

[Photograph: Alexandra Penfold]

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If you are a lover of classic American desserts, then you should most definitely be following Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito's Baking Society Blog. I do caution that it may make you want to drop everything and rush to Baked, their Red Hook bakery for an afternoon treat. I bookmarked a recipe for "Lazy Cake," an almost-one-bowl affair which Matt adapted from Lari Robling's Endangered Recipes: Too Good to Be Forgotten.

This has been the summer of Red Velvet for me. My brother-in-law is getting married and I'm making the cake. The bride and groom want it to be red velvet and because cake testing is possibly one of the most fun aspects of wedding planning, I didn't want them to miss out on that. I arranged a red velvet-off where we taste tested a few different recipes. It was as I was preparing for this that I spotted the Lazy Cake recipe. I noticed that many of the ingredients were similar to my typical red velvet, which includes buttermilk in the batter. So I decided to throw it in the mix. I misread the directions (always read those directions more than once!) and instead of 4 teaspoons of cocoa powder I added 4 tablespoons! So my cake was admittedly much less springy than the original recipe, but it had this wonderfully rich chocolate flavor and a texture that was slightly reminiscent of a dense pudding. While it wouldn't be ideal for wedding cake construction—the crumb is far too delicate for stacking tiers—it's a tasty, easy, ultra chocolatey red velvet that's great for summertime outdoor entertaining.