2 cups cake flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon cocoa
1 cup solid vegetable shortening
1 ½ cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 (1oz) bottle red food coloring
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon vinegar
1 cup milk
¼ cup cake flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups toasted pecans, coarsely chopped (optional)
Makes 8 slices
1. Set the oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of three 7 inch cake pans or two 9 inch cake pans with parchment paper and coat with vegetable spray. Dust with flour and tap out the excess.
2. To make the cake: sift together the flour, salt, and cocoa and set aside.
3. Cream shortening and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until soft and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Add red food coloring.
4. Add vanilla to buttermilk. Add sifted dry ingredients to batter alternately with buttermilk, beating after each addition. Add baking soda to vinegar and fold into batter.
5. Place batter in prepared pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a tester inserted into middle comes out clean. Place on a rack and all to cool 20 minutes. Run a butter knife gently around edges and invert cakes onto a second rack. Let cool completely.
6. To make the icing: whisk milk, flour, and salt in a heavy bottomed saucepan until combined. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon over medium heat until thickened, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.
7. Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until fluffy. Add vanilla. Add cooled milk and flour mixture and beat on highest speed for 5 minutes until thick and creamy.
8. Place bottom layer of cake on a cake round, lined with four small pieces of wax paper, and spread frosting over top of this cake layer with offset spatula. Set top cake layer in position and frost the top and side. (if using three 7 inch layers, ice top of bottom and middle layer only, add third layer, and frost top and sides.) Immediately cover sides of cake with pecans, if using. Store under cake dome or loosely wrapped in wax paper at room temperature.