Appalachian Food

Red Devil’s Food Cake

Red Devil's Food Cake

A few weeks ago, Chatter asked me if she could make a Red Velvet Cake. I told her I had never made one and I’d never been especially fond of the ones I had eaten. I tried to get her to make some other kind of cake, but she was having none of that.

Since I’m always thinking about Blind Pig readers I wondered if any of my Appalachian Cookbooks had a red velvet cake recipe. I don’t think of Red Velvet Cake as a traditional Appalachian recipe, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to look.

I checked my favorite cookbook first-More Than Moonshine written by Sidney Saylor Farr. The book didn’t have a red velvet recipe, but it had something really close (really the same thing): Mother Farr’s Red Devil’s Food Cake. Even better Sidney Saylor Farr collected the recipe from her mother-n-law, Mrs. Farr, who happened to live in Western NC.


  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon red food coloring (we used 2 to make sure the cake was as red as Chatter wanted it to be)
  • 4 tablespoons hot coffee
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350; cream sugar and shortening thoroughly.

Beat eggs, add, and mix well.

Recipe for red devils food cake

Mix together: cocoa, red food coloring, and coffee; add to mixture-blend well.

Sift together: flour, baking soda and salt.

Add dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk and vanilla-mixing well.

Chatter used two 9 inch cake pans, but you could use whatever size you wanted too. Instead of greasing and flouring the pans we used a trick I learned during my Preserving Mountain Flavors class and lined the pans with parchment paper. Bake for 25 minutes or till done. Time may vary depending on your oven and what pans you choose.

Cream cheese icing

While the cake baked Chatter made a basic cream cheese icing-that she found here. The recipe used: 2 8oz packs of cream cheese, 1/4 cup milk, 1 stick of softened butter, 2 teaspoons vanilla, and 4 cups of powdered sugar.

Mix everything but powdered sugar together then gradually add powdered sugar until mixture is smooth and creamy. The icing recipe tasted great, but made way too much for our cake. Maybe you could half the recipe or just use your own favorite cream cheese icing recipe.

Chatter's red devil's food cake

The cake turned out perfect, in fact it was so tasty I can no longer say I don’t care for red velvet (red devil’s food) cakes.




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  • Reply
    July 1, 2012 at 6:53 am

    Looks delicious!!!

  • Reply
    Madge @ The View From Right Here
    June 10, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    I have that cookbook and have made several recipes from it, now I’ll have to make that cake! Yum!

  • Reply
    Jerry E. Beuterbaugh
    June 8, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    “Blind Pig & The Acorn” has been included in the Sites To See for this week. I hope this helps to attract many new visitors here.

  • Reply
    June 8, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    BTW, have ya’all ever heard of this being made with beet juice instead of food coloring? I seem to remember it being made that way long ago, but can’t quite remember where.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    June 8, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    This recipe sounds very good, and easy too.
    In all honesty, you could put chocolate colored any way you want on an old boot, and I’d like it. LOL
    God bless.

  • Reply
    June 8, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    I love RV cakes and this looks awesome! I will have to try your version!

  • Reply
    Jackie @Syrup and Biscuits
    June 8, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    What a nice recipe and story, Tipper. I make Red Velvet Cakes frequently. I’ve never seen a recipe for one that called for coffee. I use a recipe that’s been in our family for a long time. It uses vinegar instead of coffee. Other than that, it’s pretty similar to yours.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    June 8, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    I found the recipe for Red Velvet cake my 93 year old Mom used….in one of her older books..
    Believe it or not it calls for 2 ounces of red food coloring….WOW! No wonder she quit making it…LOL…I checked my food coloring (little bottles) of today and each one only contains .25 ounces of coloring…LOL That would be a very red cake back in the late 50’s…..LOL
    Her recipe also called for vinegar and soda..the rest of the ingredients were the same except an additional 1/2 cup of flour..and called for cake flour sifed 3 times…Calls for a butter, shortening, confectioners sugar icing…and Bake in one square pan and one round pan..cut round layer in half to form the heart for a Valentines Day cake…I think I have this recipe in one of my Pioneer Recipe books as well, but wanted to look at Moms first….I think your Red Devils food cake would be more appealing..Plus a much better icing.
    We used to make a Devils Food Cake a long time ago as well….
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Melissa P. (Misplaced Southerner)
    June 8, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    Oh, just think what pretty cupcakes this could make! I really like the color on Chatter’s! So many you see are just blood red. Those really red ones remind me of that groom’s cake in “Steel Magnolias!”

  • Reply
    Jennifer in OR
    June 8, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    I normally haven’t like Red Velvet Cake in the past, but I would love to try this recipe, it sounds divine!!
    How’s your summer? My kids ended their school year yesterday and we look forward to a nice vacation of fishing, traveling a bit to the Oregon Coast, hiking, growing a garden, etc. And cooking!

  • Reply
    Mrs. K
    June 8, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    I DO love red velvet cake, however I never use shortening anymore – usually sub coconut oil or butter – not sure how that would work in this recipe – might just have to find one that uses butter. I sub coconut oil all the time, though, with good results. If anyone doesn’t want to use red food coloring, sub some beet juice – add the beet juice to your measuring cup and then fill to 1 cup with buttermilk. Can’t guarantee the results, just a thinking experiment! ; )

  • Reply
    June 8, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Wow! Not only can Corie sing nice
    and play the guitar well, That Girl can Cook! She made it look so
    tasty and pretty. Usually when I
    make a cake, only half gets eaten.
    Now a peach cobler or pie ain’t
    that lucky!
    Hope you all had a good time at the movies…Ken

  • Reply
    Paul Certo
    June 8, 2012 at 11:53 am

    I’m not much of a cake person, but I did make your Buttermilk Pie last week. It was great! But it reminded me why Ma didn’t often make pie in the summer time. Crust gets real sticky when the kitchen is too warm! I took it to a cookout, and was asked for the recipe.

  • Reply
    June 8, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Does look yummy, Red Velvet Cake is a favorite of my family and I bake them for birthdays, and always at Christmas because of the beautiful red color. This recipe is almost identical to the recipe I use except for the coffee. So glad your family enjoyed it and I’m sure it will become a family favorite. PS Since I am a coffee lover I think I will try adding the coffee next time I bake one.

  • Reply
    grannie sallie
    June 8, 2012 at 9:49 am

    Great Job Chatter! I am going to pass this recipe on to our Encouragers Group. It looks so yummy.Hope the movie in Asheville was fun.

  • Reply
    June 8, 2012 at 9:32 am

    It looks absolutely delicious! Pass a piece over,please —
    Chatter is becoming quite the cook!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    June 8, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Do you think the mixer you use has a lot to do with how your recipes turn out? I got my wife one like that a long time ago. She couldn’t understand why I spent 200 bucks for a mixer, but now she does. Now she’s lost the whisk attachment so I’m gonna have to find another one. How can you lose a whisk?

  • Reply
    June 8, 2012 at 9:11 am

    Chatter’s cake looks wonderful. I am sure it tasted just as good. Cream cheese frosting goes a long way in making any cake taste yummy! I know how much you must enjoy having your girls in the kitchen with you cooking up goodies for the family to enjoy.

  • Reply
    June 8, 2012 at 9:09 am

    A few years ago, my boss asked if anyone had a good Red Velvet Cake recipe. My co-worker said her sister makes them all the time and they are the best. They surprised him with one for his birthday. I will agree that is was the best. She told us she doesn’t use any liquid in the recipe other than buttermilk and vanilla. Her recipe sounds close to this one. Can’t wait to try it!

  • Reply
    June 8, 2012 at 8:54 am

    Looks delicious! wish I had a piece for my morning coffee!

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    June 8, 2012 at 8:46 am

    That looks so yummy; I guess you had a wonderful sweet feast. I can just taste it when I think of it. I have only made one red velvet cake, and it was with the help of a box bought mix.

  • Reply
    June 8, 2012 at 8:36 am

    Chatter did a wonderful job on that cake! Red velvet cake is a big favorite around our house.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    June 8, 2012 at 8:26 am

    Yummmm, that slice looks so pretty…I have made exactly one Red Velvet Cake….I was never fond of them either…My Mother would not make a Red Velvet Cake after the Red Food Coloring scare years ago…and wouldn’t put the red coloring in the hummingbird food either..LOL When it was said to be safe again, after reading numerous articles on it, only then did she make another cake and then only used the coloring spareingly…LOL I believe the early recipe made around Valentines Day used a lot more red food coloring…..
    Great work on that beautiful cake Chatter!
    Thanks Tipper, That is sure a nice Jadite swirl mixing bowl you have there…I love glass bowls for mixing liken the old days and stoneware bowls like the olden old days..LOL

  • Reply
    kathryn Magendie
    June 8, 2012 at 7:52 am

    I baked a red velvet cake one time in my life, a couple Christmases ago – it was not very good – DANG IT! But it sure was beautiful!
    I don’t know what I did wrong, but it had a “greasy” taste to it or something . . .? — Maybe it was the particular recipe. I’ll have to try this one!
    😀 looks gooooooood!

  • Reply
    Karen Larsen
    June 8, 2012 at 7:36 am

    That looks wonderful!! I will be making it for my next Halloween party– the name says it all!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    June 8, 2012 at 7:24 am

    I can vouch for this being a good cake. On my last visit I got there before all the cake was gone so I got to sample Corie’s cake, and it was very good!
    This morning as I’m reading over the contents of the cake I wondering……what would this cake be called if it didn’t have red food coloring in it. Would it be Devil’s food cake or perhaps Coffee Cake or then again maybe it would be called Corie’s Un-red Devil’s Food Cake.

  • Reply
    June 8, 2012 at 7:24 am

    That looks like something out of a magazine! I wish Chatter could bake enough for all of us 😉

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    June 8, 2012 at 7:11 am

    I’ll have to look for the recipe, but this looksvery similar to the Red Velvet my mother made. I will send it to you over the weekend.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    June 8, 2012 at 5:21 am

    Being from Swain County I just couldn’t let this one go by. That ain’t no Red Devil’s, that’s a Maroon Devils’ Food Cake if I never saw one. Way to go Chatter! We know that deep down in your heart you are really one of us. As is your mother with the background color right here. I knew all along where your loyalties lie. Welcome back to all of you!

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