Special equipment: Three 8-inch round cake pans
For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans and line with parchment paper.
Combine the sugar and oil and mix together. Add the eggs, red color and vanilla, and mix again.
In a separate bowl combine the cake flour, cocoa powder and salt. Then add half of the dry mixture to the wet mixture, followed by half of the buttermilk. Then add in the remaining dry ingredients and the remaining buttermilk. In a separate small bowl mix together the vinegar and baking soda, then add to the batter and combine.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool slightly in the pan, then invert the cakes on to a wire rack to finish cooling.
For the frosting: Beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the powder sugar. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
To assemble, place one of the cakes on a cake plate or stand. Use a dollop of frosting to secure the base of the cake to the stand. Top the first layer of cake with a generous, even layer of frosting. Place in the freezer to firm the frosting, about 10 minutes.
Once firm, place the next cake layer on top and cover with more frosting. Freeze again for 10 minutes.
Place the third layer on top and cover the tops and sides with a thin "crumb" layer of frosting and freeze again for 10 minutes.
Cover the entire top and sides of the cake with a thick, even layer of frosting, covering the crumb coat.
When you're done with the final layer of frosting, you can use an offset spatula to make waves of frosting around the outside of the cake.
Recipe courtesy of Julia Baker