A moist, classic Red Velvet Cake!! Made from scratch, and surprisingly easy when a few specific, simple steps are followed. This iconic cake has a soft “velvet” texture, just like what you get from the best top end fine bakeries, and is topped with soft, cream cheese frosting.
After Red Velvet Cupcakes? Here they are! UK readers: Please read note 7.
Red Velvet Cake recipe – tried and tested favourite!
This Red Velvet Cake has been taste tested and given a big thumbs up by many people because it’s a rather large cake and I’ve made it 5 times in the last two weeks.
“FIVE TIMES??!!”, I hear you exclaim (out loud or in your head). “You’re MAD!!”
If getting this cake exactly to my taste, as close as I can get it to the cakes you get from posh bakeries, and ensuring it works using both US and metric (i.e. rest of the world!!) measures means that I’m a mad baker, I’ll take that title. 😉
Besides, I’m really enjoying baking at the moment. There is something so satisfying about making something as pretty as Red Velvet Cake.
To tell you the honest truth, the reason I made it so many times in recent weeks is because my original recipe got a “so-so” response from the two toughest taste-testers I know: my mother and brother.
“The sponge is zara-zara”, my mother declared on first bite.
What the….?? Zara-zara? What on earth does that mean??
“Zara-zara” means “rough” in Japanese. The Japanese language has a handful of words which sound like what it means. “Zara-zara” being a perfect example. Usually it cracks me up. Not that day.
I gasped, indignant, and grabbed a spoon to shovel a bite into my mouth, ready to argue. And I realised – she was right. It was not as velvety as it could be. As it should be.
So I improved it. 🙂
What is Red Velvet Cake?
Red Velvet Cake is not just a chocolate cake with red food colouring added. This cake is softer than most, “velvet-like”, and the chocolate taste is actually quite mild. It’s more like a cross between a vanilla and chocolate cake with a very subtle tang from buttermilk. And it is generously smothered in a fluffy cream cheese frosting.
It’s wildly popular in America and there’s a cult following in Australia. Give it a few years, it will become a firm favourite soon!
The cake tastes buttery and moist, because it has butter in it for flavour, and oil for moisture. Yes, you need both, I promise you. It is not the same if you use only one of them.
Why should you use THIS Red Velvet Cake!
There are 3 more specific things about this recipe which might be a bit different to other Red Velvet recipes you have seen, but there’s a reason for it.
1. Cake flour – it’s a must! It’s key to achieving that soft silky sponge, just like what you get from posh bakeries. However, if you really can’t find it, please see the notes for a substitute;
2. Only 2 eggs – I’ve seen some recipes call for up to 5 eggs. I only use 2. It’s enough to hold the cake together just fine – any more than 2, and find the cake begins to start tasting “eggy”; and
3. Buttermilk – For almost every other baking recipe that I make using buttermilk, I say that you can substitute with lemon juice + milk which, when left for 5 minutes, curdles to have the same effect as using buttermilk. Not for this recipe – sorry! It is just not the same – part of the reason mine was “zara zara”. 😂
Oh, and one more rule. There is no substitute for Philadelphia Cream Cheese for the frosting. I’ve tried better value store-brand cream cheese before. It is never the same. Promise. ❤
I bake the layers in 2 separate tins, but if you don’t have two tins, you can make one big one and cut the cake in half. And to make the layers nice and neat, I cut the dome top off.
I like to crumble the off cuts and use it to decorate the cake. I think it looks pretty, don’t you? But that’s purely optional!
I promise you, there is nothing tricky about this cake. All you have to do is ensure you measure the ingredients properly, rather than just eye-balling it. 😉 As long as you do that, it’s actually easy to make, no more difficult than an ordinary sponge cake.
Putting aside fiddly fancy decorated cakes, Red Velvet Cake is surely one of the most striking and stunning cakes around. If you’ve never tried it before, you’re in for a real treat! – Nagi x
Red Velvet Cake
Watch how to make it
How to make Red Velvet Cake – quick tutorial video! Red Velvet Cake for UK readers – please ensure you read Notes 7 and 9.
Red Velvet Cake
- 2 2/3 cups (400 g) plain cake flour (Note 1)
- 2 tbsp (10 g) cocoa powder , unsweetened
- 1 tsp (5 g) baking soda / bi-carb soda , NOT baking powder (Note 2)
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter , softened (1 US stick)
- 1 1/2 cups (330 g) caster / superfine white sugar (Note 3a)
- 2 eggs , at room temperature (around 2 oz / 60g each)
- 1 cup (250ml) vegetable oil
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract (or essence)
- 1 cup (250 ml) buttermilk , at room temperature (Note 4)
- 2 1/2 tbsp red food colouring liquid (UK: use Gel, Note 7)
Frosting (Note 10)
- 14 oz (400 g) Philadelphia Cream Cheese, block , softened but not too soft (UK see Note 9)
- 1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter , softened (but not too soft)
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 cups (450 g) soft icing sugar / powdered sugar sifted (Note 3b)
- Preheat oven to 180C/350F (all oven types). Butter 2 x 21cm / 8″ round cake pans (sides and base) and dust with cocoa powder.
- Sift the Dry Ingredients and whisk to combine in a bowl.
- Place butter and sugar in a bowl and beat with electric beater or in stand mixer until smooth and well combined (use paddle attachment if using stand mixer).
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating in between to combine. At first it will look curdle – keep beating until it’s smooth.
- Add vegetable oil, vinegar, vanilla, buttermilk and red food colouring. Beat until combined and smooth (Note 5).
- Add Dry Ingredients. Beat until just combined – some small lumps is ok, that’s better than over mixing.
- Divide batter between cake pans. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes on the same shelf, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. (Note 6)
- Rest for 10 minutes in the pan then turn out onto a cooling rack and allow to cool.
- Beat together cream cheese, butter and vanilla for 3 minutes (this makes it really smooth and changes from yellow to almost white). Add icing sugar and beat for 2 minutes or until frosting is light and fluffy to your taste. If your frosting seems too runny (depends on quality of cream cheese/ if the cream cheese was too soft), just add more icing sugar.
- Cut the top off the cake using a serrated knife (to make the layers neat).
- Spread one cake with 1 1/2 cups of frosting. Top with the other cake. Spread top and sides with remaining frosting.
- Optional: Crumble offcuts and use to decorate the top rim and base of the cake.
Let them eat cake! 10 more classic cakes
.Life of Dozer
This is how he starts every day: assessing the surf. 😉