Red Velvet Cake Recipe

An all time classic, red velvet has its own characteristic flavor because of the tart buttermilk and vinegar. It’s an eye-catching cake with subtle chocolate and vanilla notes for a pleasant tanginess. Red velvet cake is perfect for special occasions and can be prepared in a couple hours. When frosting, make sure all the cakes have cooled completely or else you’ll risk melting the frosting. Try using an offset spatula for the most control when spreading frosting for a smooth, straight side.

Prep time: 90 mins
Cook time: 35 mins
Total time: 2 hrs 5 mins
Servings: 16 servings
Yield: 1 (8-inch) two-layered cake


For the red velvet cake
  • 2 2/3 (320g) cups cake flour
  • 3 tablespoons (16g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon red gel food coloring
  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups (300g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
For the cream cheese frosting
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages full-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 5 cups (568g) powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Special Equipment
  • Offset spatula
  • 2 (10-inch) cardboard cake round
  • 2 (8-inch) cake pans


  1. Preheat the oven: Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Prepare the pans: Grease two 8-inch round cake pans with butter. Line the pans with parchment paper and grease the parchment. Dust the bottom and sides of the pans with flour and tap out the excess.
  3. Sift the dry ingredients: In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. If you don’t have a sifter, whisk the ingredients together instead. Cake flour and cocoa powder tend to clump, and sifting helps ensure a smooth batter.
  4. Measure the wet ingredients: Measure the buttermilk in a liquid measuring cup or small bowl. Add the vinegar, vanilla extract, and red food coloring and whisk to combine.
  5. Beat the butter, oil, and sugar: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter, vegetable oil, and granulated sugar on medium-high speed until very pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. The mixture will have doubled or nearly tripled in volume.
  6. Add the eggs: Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until fully combined after each addition. Scrape down the bottoms and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  7. Combine the wet and the dry: Add one third of the flour mixture into the butter mixture and mix on low speed until incorporated. Pour in half of the buttermilk mixture and continue mixing on low speed just until combined. Continue alternating the dry and wet ingredients, making sure to end with the dry ingredients and mixing until just combined. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the bowl in between additions to ensure the batter mixes evenly.
  8. Divide cake batter and bake the red velvet cake layers: Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. The cake will have deepened in color to brick-red, the edges of the cake will have begun to pull away from the sides of the pan, and the cake should spring back when gently poked with your finger.
  9. Cool the cakes: Let the cakes cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
  10. Beat the cream cheese and butter for frosting: To make the frosting: In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  11. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla: Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and continue beating on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. The frosting will be much thicker than standard buttercream frosting.
    If the frosting seems too soft, place it in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to stiffen. If it still seems too runny, add more powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, until you reach the desired consistency.
  12. Trim the red velvet cake layers: Depending on your cake pans, the red velvet cake layers may have domed while baking. It’s not a problem if they have. Use a large serrated knife to remove the domes. Optionally, you can save the trimmings to make crumbs to sprinkle on the cake.
  13. Assemble the cake: Place one of the cake layers right-side-up on a large plate or a 10-inch cardboard cake round. Use an offset spatula or a butter knife to spread a thick layer of frosting, 1/2 to 1 cup, evenly over the layer. Top with the remaining cake layer, placed up-side-down, so the top of the cake is smooth and flat. Check that the cake layers are centered and that the top of the cake is level. Gently adjust accordingly.
  14. Apply the crumb coat: Spread a generous amount of frosting over the top and sides of the cake using an offset spatula or the straight edge of a large butter knife. Use the spatula to spread the frosting into a thin, even layer. You should be able to see the cake through the frosting.
    This thin layer of frosting is called the crumb coat and helps catch any loose crumbs on the outside of the cake so that the final layer of frosting doesn’t have any bright red crumbs caught in it.
  15. Refrigerate the cake and frosting: Place the cake in the refrigerator for 30 minutes for the frosting to set. Cover and refrigerate the bowl of frosting.
  16. Frost the cake: Remove the cake and the bowl of frosting from the refrigerator. Stir the frosting a few times until smooth.
    Spread a generous amount of frosting over the top and sides of the cake as before, this time leaving a thicker layer of frosting. Use the offset spatula or the back of a butter knife to smooth the sides.
    If you have any cake trimmings, you can break them into crumbs and sprinkle them along the circumference of the top of the cake if desired.

Source: Simply Recipes

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