Preheat the oven to 330 degrees F. Grease a 13-by-9-inch baking pan with cooking spray and line it with parchment paper.
Cream the granulated sugar and butter together in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until they're light and fluffy. Then add the molasses and mix. Add the eggs 1 at a time and mix until they're incorporated, then scrape down the bowl and paddle to make sure it is completely mixed.
In a pitcher, combine the buttermilk, oil, apple cider vinegar, food coloring and vanilla.
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients to the butter and sugar mixture, finishing with the dry ingredients. Scrape the bowl and mix again, being careful not to over-beat.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let cool until no longer warm to the touch, then flip the cake out onto a cardboard cake board. With a serrated knife, remove the top of the cake to make it level. Flip the cake over and remove the browned bottom or "bloom" with the serrated knife. Slice the cake into 2 layers. Layer some of the Classic Cream Cheese Frosting between the cake layers, and then top the cake with it.
Classic Cream Cheese Frosting:
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together until they're soft and light. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Scrape the bowl and paddle down, then add the vanilla and salt and mix until incorporated.
This recipe was created by a contestant during a cooking competition. It has not been tested for home use.
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