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Best Red Velvet Cake Recipe

The best red velvet cake recipe is made with real buttermilk and tangy cream cheese frosting. When I make this dessert, people are in awe of how pretty this is. Then they fall in love with the taste.

Red Velvet Cake is More Than a Delicious Chocolate Cake

You might be thinking that red velvet cake is just a chocolate cake recipe with red food coloring added. However, it is a bit more than that. Decades ago, the cake was named for the red undertones in the cake batter because of the combination of buttermilk, cocoa powder, and vinegar. However, now days, we can use a bit of food coloring to help bring out the red tones.

I never met my great grandmother, but my mom still makes this cake now and then in memory of her. She brings out the newspaper clipping from the 1930s and now we both make the cake together. Recipes bring back so many nostalgic memories when we are making it and of course, when we are enjoying this beauty with family and friends.

Best Red Velvet Cake Recipe
Best Red Velvet Cake Recipe

Perfect Show-Stopping Dessert for the Holidays

A festive cake in both color and taste. Because of the deep rich red color and the bright white, fluffy frosting, this cake looks so decadent. It is a perfect confection to serve especially for the Christmas Season and Valentine’s Day. With all the seasonal cooking and baking, it’s nice to have a simple recipe that will produce a stunning result.

What You Will Need to Make This Cake

Let’s explore what goes into making a moist red velvet cake recipe.

Moist Red Velvet Cake
Moist Red Velvet Cake

Cake Ingredients

Cake Flour. While you could use all-purpose flour, it will affect the texture of the cake. Cake flour can be made by combining all-purpose flour and cornstarch if you are in a pinch.

Unsweetened Cocoa Powder. Make sure to use unsweetened cocoa powder. This is not the chocolate drink mix powder.

Baking Soda.  This will give the cake a lovely lift when combined with the acidic liquid ingredients.

Salt. Since this recipe calls for unsalted butter, it is important to add the salt as it will react with the other ingredients for a fluffy cake.

Unsalted Butter. Often professional bakers will use unsalted butter and add a specific amount of salt to the recipes. It is easier to control the exact amounts in recipes and baking requires much more precise measuring of ingredients.

Vegetable Oil. The biggest reason to use vegetable oil in this cake batter is to keep the cake moist.

Granulated Sugar. I prefer to use a superfine sugar with this recipe as it will dissolve faster. However, if you make sure that you beat the butter and sugar together approximately 4 minutes, they will be incorporated nicely.

White Vinegar. This works well with the buttermilk and baking soda to create a lovely textured cake.

Buttermilk. This adds extra moistness to the cake. It also activates the baking soda to give the cake a lift.

Red Food Coloring.  This is what gives the red velvet cake such a deep, bold red color. Use one that does not have flavor.

Eggs. This recipe calls for just two eggs.

Vanilla Extract. Use the real stuff with this recipe.

Red Velvet Cake Batter
Red Velvet Cake Batter

Frosting Ingredients

This cream cheese frosting recipe calls for just 4 ingredients that I usually have on hand. This recipe results in a fluffy, smooth, buttery, and slightly tangy frosting.

Philadelphia Cream Cheese Block. I prefer to use a block that has been softened to room temperature. It mixes well with the butter.

Unsalted Butter. Room temperature, but not too soft will whip up nicely for the frosting.

Vanilla Extract. I use the real vanilla extract for my baking recipes. A little goes a long way in flavoring.

Powdered Sugar. This is added once all the other ingredients are creamed together. Powdered sugar is used rather than granulated sugar because it is lighter and has a finer grind and will incorporate better leaving a light, fluffy, and smooth icing.

Two-Layered Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Two-Layered Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

How to Make the Best Red Velvet Cake Recipe

While this recipe has a few steps, it is not difficult to make. No need to wait for a special occasion to make this beauty.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare two 8-inch pans or three 6-inch pans prepared with shortening and a light dusting of flour. You could even add a round of parchment paper to the bottom to ensure that the cakes will come out of the pans easily.

In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients and set aside, cake flour, sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda.

Using a mixer on medium speed, mix the butter and sugar together until the sugar is well dissolved. This will take approximately 4 minutes and the color will have changed.

Add the eggs one at a time. Then add the vegetable oil, vinegar, vanilla, buttermilk, and red food coloring. Continue mixing a few more minutes until the batter is smooth.

Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. There might be a few small lumps in the batter. Do not over mix.

Divide the cake batter between the prepared 8-inch cake pans. Bake for 30 minutes. Check with a toothpick inserted into the middle.  If it comes out clean, remove the cakes. If not, let them continue baking a few more minutes. Do not overbake the cakes or they will be dry.

Let cakes rest in the pans for a few minutes before running a knife around the edge and turing them out onto a cooling rack.

Strawberry Sauce with Christmas Cake
Strawberry Sauce with Christmas Cake

Making the Frosting

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, butter. Beat this for 2-3 minutes until well combined.

Mix in the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and continue mixing until smooth and creamy. If the frosting is too thin add a touch more powdered sugar. If the frosting is too thin, add a bit of water or milk one teaspoon at a time.

Fork of Dessert Cake
Fork of Dessert Cake

Assembling the Cake

Many times, the cakes are not perfectly flat on top. If that is the case, just trim off the dome. Save the cake for crumbling on the sides or top of the cake for a decoration.

Add the frosting to the top of the first cake layer and spread the frosting all around almost to the edges. I usually have about ¼ of an inch of frosting between the cake layers. Place the other cake on top.

If you want the cake to look like it came out of the bakery, spread a thin layer of frosting all over the cake. Then place in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. This will help seal in the crumbs.

After you take the cake out of the freezer, add the final layer of frosting and any decorations.

Tips and Tricks for Making the Perfect Red Velvet Cake

Room Temperature Ingredients. It is best to have all the ingredients at room temperature before starting the recipe.

Sift Dry Ingredients. Sifting the dry ingredients removes any large clumps and helps create a soft and tender cake.

Use Real Buttermilk. This is one of those ingredients that is a game changer in this recipe. While you can curdle regular milk to mimic buttermilk, it really does not have the same deep taste. This recipe really calls for the using real buttermilk.

Use Cake Flour. Cake flour has less gluten that all-purpose flour. This will help create a tender cake.

Butter and Cream Cheese Frosting. A fluffy, smooth cream cheese frosting is the best. Make sure to use real butter and the cream cheese block for making the frosting. This will provide for the best looking and tasting frosting.

Do Not Overdo the Food Coloring. Often, I see a recipe that calls for an entire bottle of the red food coloring. Some food colors have a bitter taste. That will not reflect well on your final product. Therefore, add what the recipe calls for and use one that has no flavor such as, Americolor Gel.  

Red Velvet Cupcake Dusted with Red Sugar
Red Velvet Cupcake Dusted with Red Sugar

A Few Red Velvet Cake FAQs

What Size Baking Tins Should Be Used?

This cake batter will work with the following

  • 2 8-inch cake pans
  • 3 6-inch cake pans
  • 1 half sheet pan
  • 1 9X13 cake pan
  • 32-36 muffin cups

The 8-inch and 6-inch cake pans can be stacked with the frosting placed between the cake layers. Whereas the half sheet pan can be used to serve frosted cake bars. You can get fancy and cut rectangles and stack them up with frosting between the layers for a pretty rectangle layered cake. Finally, using muffin cups is a great way to make individual dessert portions.

Do You Really Need to Use Buttermilk and Vinegar in this Recipe?

Yes, the combination of the two really helps in both the taste and texture of the cake as they combine with the other ingredients to activate them.  

What Kind of Frosting is Best for Red Velvet Cake?

While most recipes call for the cream cheese frosting, there are other frostings that work well for this cake.

Cream Cheese Frosting. This is the frosting recipe that I will be providing you with today. The slight tang in the frosting pairs nicely with the flavors of the cake.

Buttercream Frosting. This is one of the most used frosting recipes in my recipe box. I think my family would eat it with a spoon.

Ermine Icing. It is an old-fashioned icing that is like whipped cream.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Martha Stewart has this frosting recipe that is so buttery and silky.

Italian Buttercream. This is a light, silky, not too sweet frosting that pipes beautifully.

Best Red Velvet Cake Recipe
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Best Red Velvet Cake Recipe

The best red velvet cake recipe is made with real buttermilk and tangy cream cheese frosting. When I make this dessert, people are in awe of how pretty this is. Then they fall in love with the taste. Red Velvet Cake is More Than a Delicious Chocolate Cake
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: bakery recipe, brunch recipe, christmas recipe, easter recipe, Holiday recipe, Valentine’s Dessert
Servings: 12 servings 1 2-layer cake
Calories: 709kcal

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Ingredients

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 2/3 Cups Cake Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • Pinch Salt

Wet Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter Softened, 1 US stick
  • 1 ½ Cups Superfine White Sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs Room Temperature
  • 1 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Teaspoon White Vinegar
  • 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cup Buttermilk Room Temperature
  • 2 1/2 Teaspoons Red Food Coloring

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 14 Ounces Cream Cheese Philadelphia Cream Cheese Block at Room Temperature
  • 1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter Room Temperature
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 4 Cups Powdered Sugar

Instructions

Cake Batter

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare two 8-inch pans or three 6-inch pans prepared with shortening and a light dusting of flour. You could even add a round of parchment paper to the bottom to ensure that the cakes will come out of the pans easily.
  • In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients and set aside, cake flour, sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda.
  • Using a mixer on medium speed, mix the butter and sugar together until the sugar is well dissolved. This will take approximately 4 minutes and the color will have changed.
  • Add the eggs one at a time. Then add the vegetable oil, vinegar, vanilla, buttermilk, and red food coloring. Continue mixing a few more minutes until the batter is smooth.
  • Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. There might be a few small lumps in the batter. Do not over mix.
  • Divide the cake batter between the prepared 8-inch cake pans. Bake for 30 minutes. Check with a toothpick inserted into the middle. If it comes out clean, remove the cakes. If not, let them continue baking a few more minutes. Do not overbake the cakes or they will be dry.
  • Let cakes rest in the pans for a few minutes before running a knife around the edge and turning them out onto a cooling rack.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, butter. Beat this for 2-3 minutes until well combined.
  • Mix in the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and continue mixing until smooth and creamy. If the frosting is too thin add a touch more powdered sugar. If the frosting is too thin, add a bit of water or milk one teaspoon at a time.

Assembling the Cake

  • Many times, the cakes are not perfectly flat on top. If that is the case, just trim off the dome. Save the cake for crumbling on the sides or top of the cake for a decoration.
  • Add the frosting to the top of the first cake layer and spread the frosting all around almost to the edges. I usually have about ¼ of an inch of frosting between the cake layers. Place the other cake on top.
  • If you want the cake to look like it came out of the bakery, spread a thin layer of frosting all over the cake. Then place in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. This will help seal in the crumbs.
  • After you take the cake out of the freezer, add the final layer of frosting and any decorations.

Your Own Private Notes

Notes

Tips and Tricks for Making the Perfect Red Velvet Cake

Room Temperature Ingredients. It is best to have all the ingredients at room temperature before starting the recipe.
Sift Dry Ingredients. Sifting the dry ingredients removes any large clumps and helps create a soft and tender cake.
Use Real Buttermilk. This is one of those ingredients that is a game changer in this recipe. While you can curdle regular milk to mimic buttermilk, it really does not have the same deep taste. This recipe really calls for the using real buttermilk.
Use Cake Flour. Cake flour has less gluten that all-purpose flour. This will help create a tender cake.
Butter and Cream Cheese Frosting. A fluffy, smooth cream cheese frosting is the best. Make sure to use real butter and the cream cheese block for making the frosting. This will provide for the best looking and tasting frosting.
Do Not Overdo the Food Coloring. Often, I see a recipe that calls for an entire bottle of the red food coloring. Some food colors have a bitter taste. That will not reflect well on your final product.

A Few Red Velvet Cake FAQs

What Size Baking Tins Should Be Used?

This cake batter will work with the following
• 2 8-inch cake pans
• 3 6-inch cake pans
• 1 half sheet pan
• 1 9X13 cake pan
• 32-36 muffin cups
The 8-inch and 6-inch cake pans can be stacked with the frosting placed between the cake layers. Whereas the half sheet pan can be used to serve frosted cake bars. You can get fancy and cut rectangles and stack them up with frosting between the layers for a pretty rectangle layered cake. Finally, using muffin cups is a great way to make individual dessert portions.

Do You Really Need to Use Buttermilk and Vinegar in this Recipe?

Yes, the combination of the two really helps in both the taste and texture of the cake as they combine with the other ingredients to activate them.

Nutrition

Calories: 709kcal | Carbohydrates: 89g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 26g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 78mg | Sodium: 360mg | Potassium: 178mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 67g | Vitamin A: 569IU | Calcium: 154mg | Iron: 1mg

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