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Very Red Velvet Cake With Cream Cheese Icing and Pecans

['2½ cups cake flour', '½ teaspoon baking soda', '2 large eggs, at room temperature', '1½ cups sugar', '1½ cups vegetable oil', '2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar', '1 cup buttermilk', '1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract', '3 tablespoons red food coloring (from two 1-ounce bottles)', '1 (1-pound) box confectioners’ sugar, sifted', '1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened', '1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, softened', '1 cup chopped pecans']

To make the cake: Set the oven to 350°F and adjust the rack positions to the middle and top third. Spray three 8-inch round cake pans well with baking spray.
Sift the flour with the baking soda.
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs well, then beat in the sugar, oil, and vinegar. On low speed, slowly add the flour and beat in well. Add the buttermilk slowly, then the vanilla, and then the food coloring.
Pour the batter evenly into the pans and rap them on the countertop several times to eliminate any air bubbles. Bake for 12 minutes, then rotate the pans from shelf to shelf so they bake evenly and bake until the tops spring back when lightly touched, about 25 minutes altogether. Let the cakes cool in the pans on racks for 15 minutes.
Run a knife around the sides of the pans and invert the cakes onto the racks to cool completely. Once they’re cool, refrigerate the cakes for 20 to 30 minutes to make icing them easier.
To make the icing: Combine everything in a medium bowl and mix well until very smooth. It’s best to use the icing right away, when it’s soft and spreadable.
Put one cake layer upside down on a cake plate or cake stand and cover the top evenly with frosting. Add a second layer, right side up, and spread with more frosting. Top with the third layer, right side up, and spread the frosting evenly around the sides of the cake and on top; check for any places where you can see through to the cake. Finally, sprinkle the pecans evenly all over the top of the cake.
Once the frosting sets, cut into slices to serve. This cake keeps for up to 2 weeks in a cake keeper, but once it’s ready, people want to dive right in.

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