I’m about to say something really controversial.
I think cream cheese frosting is overrated.
I hope you’ll still be my friend.
A Little Bit of Red Velvet Cake History
It’s not that I don’t like cream cheese frosting, it definitely has it’s place. But I do tend to think any baked good with cream cheese frosting would be better without it. Or with a different kind of frosting.
That’s especially true in my book with red velvet cake. Cream cheese frosting and red velvet cake often go hand and hand these days. Since the cake’s resurgence in popularity with 1989’s Steel Magnolias, you’d think red velvet cake and cream cheese frosting went waaay back.
But did you know that this classic cake actually didn’t start off with cream cheese frosting?
Whipped roux frosting, or ermine frosting, was traditionally paired with red velvet cake when it first appeared as the gorgeous red cake we know and love in 1959. This creamy, rich frosting has a roux base—you kind of make pudding on the stovetop, and then that becomes the basic structure of the frosting. Add some butter, sugar (and in my recipe, vegetable shortening), and you’ve got one incredibly addicting frosting!
Red Velvet Cake and Whipped-Roux Frosting: A Classic Pair
Whipped-roux frosting pairs perfectly with red velvet cake. It’s a little more time-intensive than cream cheese frosting, as you have to wait for the roux to cool to room temperature before finishing the frosting. (And the wait can be pretty difficult when you just want some frosting.) But the extra time and patience is so worth it!
And I developed my somewhat untraditional whipped roux frosting to be fool proof—no matter your level of kitchen experience, this recipe will work!
If you don’t pair this cake with whipped roux frosting, I recommend using my Classic Buttercream recipe. Or a combination of the two! Sometimes when I make this a layer cake, I use the whipped roux frosting between the cake layers, then cover the whole cake in buttercream. It’s absolutely to-die-for!
You’re probably wondering about the unique name of this red velvet cake. “Lanallure” is a reference to one of my very favorite Classic Hollywood Stars, Miss Lana Turner.
If you’re also a fan of Lana’s, then you probably already know where the name “Lanallure” comes from!
When Lana officially became an important star at MGM, the studio named a salad in their commissary after her, the “Lanallure Salad.”
When I developed this recipe, I just kept thinking what a glamorous cake red velvet truly is. And in my opinion, there is no star more glamorous than Lana Turner. So I couldn’t resist naming this recipe the “Lanallure” Red Velvet Cake.
Lana may have sworn off sweets during the peak of her stardom, but I bet even she couldn’t have resisted a slice of this gorgeous cake! If you make my “Lanallure” Red Velvet Cake, I’m sure you’ll feel the same way!
A Few Things!
Whipped Egg Whites
This cake recipe uses whipped egg whites. If you’ve never whipped egg whites before, I’ve got a photo tutorial in my Heart Chiffon Cakes with Chocolate Chunks recipe. Be sure to check it out for my tips and tricks!
The Food Coloring
I know artificial food coloring, particularly red food coloring, is avoided by many these days. I developed this recipe to use very minimal red food coloring—a mere 2 tsp—while still achieving that rich, red velvet cake hue.
But if you would like a completely natural alternative, I highly recommend Suncore Foods Red Beet Supercolor Powder [aff. link]. Made from organic red beet powder, this supercolor powder delivers a beautiful, deep red color naturally. I’ve made this cake with traditional red food coloring and with Suncore’s Red Beet Supercolor Powder, and either way you’ll end up with a beautifully red cake. Take a look at Suncore’s Red Beet Powder [aff. link], and be sure to check out their amazing line of natural supercolor powders!
This cake requires a lot of whisking—whisk the wet ingredients, whisk the dry ingredients, whisk the roux base in the frosting…!
You may already know this about me, but I love my kitchen tools to be as beautiful as they are functional. I also absolutely adore gold accents in my kitchen. So when I came across this gorgeous gold whisk on Amazon last year [aff. link] I was super excited.
Is it sad to get excited about a whisk?
Apart from being beautiful—I literally display mine in my kitchen tools holder on the countertop—this gold whisk is the perfect size for all your whisking needs. The gold color has held up to countless washings, and whisking things to a boil, like this frosting! Definitely take a look at this beautiful kitchen tool if you’re in the market for a good sturdy whisk! You can find it here on Amazon [aff. link].
Ok, and with that, here’s my recipe for “Lanallure” Red Velvet Cake!
“Lanallure” Red Velvet Cake
For the wet ingredients:
- 1/3 cup butter
- 2 oz baking chocolate
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 ¼ cup sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla
- ½ cup almond milk
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp red food coloring, (or red food coloring powder)
- 2 egg whites, whipped
For the dry ingredients:
- 1 ½ cups cake flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
For the whipped roux frosting (or use my Classic Buttercream):
- 1 cup milk of choice, I use almond milk
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla
- dash of salt
- 2/3 cup vegetable shortening, room temperature
- ½ cup butter, room temperature
- 3 cups powdered sugar
Make the whipped roux frosting
- Start by making the whipped roux frosting.
- To a small saucepan, add the milk and flour. Turn the heat up to medium, and whisk the flour into the milk until it is smoothly incorporated and there are no lumps (or almost no lumps!)
- Keeping the pan over medium heat, slowly whisk in the sugar, followed by 1 tsp of the vanilla extract.
- Keep whisking over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil.
- Once boiling, boil for one minute, whisking the whole time. The mixture will get thick like pudding.
- After one minute, take the pan off heat, and transfer the roux to a (preferably glass) bowl.
- ***If there are lumps in your roux, strain it before you transfer the roux to a bowl.
Strain the roux (if needed)
- This can take a little work since the roux mixture is thick, but you don’t want a lumpy frosting, so it’s worth the effort! Just use your spatula to kind of push the roux through your strainer.
- Make sure you do this over the bowl to catch the smooth roux we want to keep! (And don’t worry, just soak your strainer and the residual roux will come out with a little scrubbing!)
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the roux sit until it comes to room temperature. This will take at least an hour.
- While the roux cools, make the cake.
Whip the egg whites
- Separate 2 egg whites from their yokes (we won’t need these yolks in the recipe), and put the egg whites in a very clean mixing bowl.
- With a handheld or stand mixer with very clean beaters, beat the egg whites on medium speed until stiff peaks form, about 3-4 minutes. (See the pictures in my Chiffon Cake with Chocolate Chunks Recipe for reference.)
- You know the peaks are stiff enough if when you take your egg beaters out of the egg whites, the peaks hold their shape and kind of lift out of the bowl with the egg beaters.
- Set aside, and proceed quickly with the following steps. The shorter the egg whites sit the better!
Melt the butter and chocolate
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate. Whisk them together as they melt, then let the mixture cool for 5 minutes.
Prepare the dry ingredients
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cake flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
Finish the wet ingredients
- Back to the saucepan with the butter and chocolate! Now add in the vegetable oil, vanilla extract, almond milk, and food coloring. Whisk everything together, then add the 2 eggs. Whisk again until everything is fully incorporated.
Combine the wet and dry ingredients
- Now transfer the wet ingredients to the mixing bowl with the dry ingredients, and whisk everything together until smooth. Be careful not to over mix though!
Add the egg whites
- Now add the whipped egg whites to the cake batter. With a silicone spatula, very gently fold them into the cake batter until you cannot see any white streaks from the egg whites.
Bake the cake
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Oil two 9x9 inch circular cake pans, or one glass 9x13 inch pan.
- If using two 9x9 inch pans, pour the cake batter evenly into each pan. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the cake is spring-y to the touch. You shouldn’t need to insert a toothpick to check for done-ness, but if you do, the toothpick inserted will come out mostly clean.
- If using one 9x13 inch pan, pour the batter evenly into the pan, and bake for 25-27 minutes. The cake will be done when spring-y to the touch and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Let the cake(s) cool completely before frosting.
Back to the roux-based frosting!
- If your roux is completely cooled to room temperature, you can finish the frosting while the cake bakes.
- To your food processor, add the roux, butter, vegetable shortening, salt, remaining tsp vanilla, and powdered sugar. Process until smooth and thick. If it's too thick, you may add a tsp or two almond milk, but start slow! A little goes a long way and you don’t want a liquid-y frosting!
- Roux frosting is done!
Frost the cake(s) and serve!
- Frost your red velvet cake as desired, and serve!