Pauline Clackley began making her signature red velvet cake in 1987.

By Emily Beckett

Pauline Clackley of Clanton has made her red velvet cake since Christmas of 1987.

The cake that so many of her friends and family beg her to make year after year now is essentially the same one she started with 25 years ago, except for a few tweaks she’s made to the rich, ruby-red dessert along the way.

“I found the recipe in a Redbook magazine in 1987 and have been making this delicious cake ever since,” Clackley said. “It is requested every year at Thanksgiving and Christmas and for birthdays, also. The cake goes fast.”

Clackley’s daughter, Crystal Patterson, said for every birthday she requests her mother’s cake, which Clackley started making a year before Patterson was born.

“She made it for my wedding, and it was gone before my wedding cake,” Patterson said. “I said she should have just made my wedding cake.”


Pauline Clackley’s Red Velvet Cake


2 1/2 cups self-rising flour

1 cup buttermilk

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 cup (2 1-oz. bottles) red food coloring

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 tsp. of unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp. white vinegar

2 large eggs


1/3 pounds (1 1/3 sticks) butter, softened

10 ounces of cream cheese, softened

1 1-pound box confectioner’s sugar

2 cups chopped pecans

•To make cake: Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix together all ingredients with an electric mixer (about two minutes on medium speed).

Spray 3 9-inch round cake pans with non-stick spray.

Pour batter equally into the three pans and bake 20 minutes. Test for doneness with toothpick.

Cool layers in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Carefully remove layers from pans to racks to cool completely.

•To make frosting: In a large bowl, combine butter and cream cheese until creamy; add confectioner’s sugar a little at a time until thick and fluffy, then fold in 1 1/2 cups of pecans. When cake is completely cool, frost each layer equally. Decorate top of cake with remaining 1/2 cup pecans. Can be refrigerated at least one hour before serving. Makes 10 to 15 servings.