Recipe Corner: Laura Fries and her Famous Red Velvet Cake!

By this time during preseason, the Metropolitan Opera Chorus has already rehearsed fourteen out of the twenty-three operas we're scheduled to perform this season. FOURTEEN! That's a bit of heavy lifting, and after all that hard work, you can bet we're ready to treat ourselves! Why don't you join us? Soprano Laura Fries, one of our resident bakers, is pleased to share an easy (and extremely tasty) recipe for a perennial favorite: Red Velvet Cake!

Here's what Laura has to say about her delicious dessert offering:

"I got this recipe from someone I worked with years ago at a temp job. Over the last 15 years, I have made at least 2 dozen of them, either for bake sales at the Met, or for personal requests (mostly from stagehands!). It's a one-bowl cake and amazingly simple to make. I'm very happy to share the it!"

Laura in La Boheme!

Laura in La Boheme!

Laura and one of her many foster kittens!

Laura and one of her many foster kittens!

Laura and her mile-high hair in Les Contes d'Hoffmann!

Laura and her mile-high hair in Les Contes d'Hoffmann!

Name: Laura Fries.

Hometown: Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Years at the Met: 19 in the full time chorus, and 22 if you count my time in the extra chorus.

My favorite opera is: Anything Puccini!

One of my most memorable experiences at the Met so far is: Early in my career in the chorus, we were doing Otello. When Placido Domingo made his first entrance in Act I, it took my breath away and gave me goosebumps!

Other than opera, my favorite type of music is: 70s rock and roll.

When I’m not at the Met, you can find me: at a crafts fair.

The most outrageous thing I've ever cooked (or eaten) was: Croquembouche (a tower of cream puffs surrounded by spun caramelized sugar).

The three things in my kitchen I can’t live without are: My omelet pan, a filtered water dispenser in my fridge, and my waffle iron!

Currently, my three go-to ingredients are: butter, garlic and wine.

If I had to choose, my “last meal” would be: Salmon en croute, roasted asparagus, heritage tomatoes with basil and balsamico dressing, and macerated strawberries over vanilla ice cream!

-Laura Fries' Red Velvet Cake-

1 cup Wesson oil

1 ½ cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon cocoa (Laura prefers Hershey)

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon Arm & Hammer baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 oz. red food coloring (You can substitute beet juice, but it will change the taste.)

2 cups cake flour

1 cup buttermilk

Grease two 9” cake pans. Preheat oven to 325º.

Mix oil, sugar and eggs. Beat until creamy. Add flour one cup at a time, then put in cocoa, vinegar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, food coloring and buttermilk. Beat until creamy.

Bake 35 minutes. Cool before frosting. (I freeze the layers and put a thin coat of frosting on before the final frosting step. This is a very tender cake that falls apart and creates lots of crumbs, so this helps!)


-Cream Cheese Frosting-

1 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened

1 16-oz package powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring

½ cup chopped nuts (optional)

2 tablespoons milk (or more, if the frosting is too thick)

Mix all ingredients together until creamy, then add nuts (optional).

**Note from Laura: "I usually make 1.5-2 times the frosting recipe."**