Apology Cake – A Recipe

Apology Cake was Ava Cooper’s best cake in Alice Hoffman’s The Red Garden.

Ava also baked Gluttony Cake (devil’s food with chocolate pudding and chocolate chips), Seven Deadly Sins Cake (large and gooey); Lust Cake (lemon poppy seed triple layer with sugary frosting; Gratitude Cake (angel food with vanilla icing).

Hoffman described her character as “an amazing baker,” but never provided recipes.

Apology Cake sounds like a red velvet cake, so here is a recipe from my mother’s secret stash – but she never apologized to anyone.

Red Velvet Cake with Frosting

My parents’ honeymoon was at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City and this cake is sometimes called the Waldorf Astoria Cake; my mother usually made it on their anniversary.

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 oz. red food coloring – yes, that’s 2 bottles
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Cream shortening and sugar; beat in eggs. Make a paste of the cocoa and small amount of food coloring. Add to the creamed mixture. Then add the remaining food coloring. Alternating, add buttermilk and the mixture of salt, flour and baking powder. Add vanilla, vinegar and baking soda. Mix well. Pour into two 8 inch greased and floured pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Frost when cooled, with cream cheese icing.  For the icing, beat  together until smooth – 1 cup of milk, 3 tablespoons of flour, 1 cup of powdered sugar, 1 cup of butter, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

I haven’t made it in awhile; red food coloring is supposedly not as lethal as it used to be, and I’ve heard that canned red beet juice is a good substitute.

Let me know if you try it.



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