A Classic Red Velvet Cake Recipe That’ll Quickly Become Your Go-To

Everyone should have a good red velvet cake recipe in their collection. Not only is it a crowd-pleaser, but with its striking red and white color combination, it needs practically no decoration to make a statement.

Red Velvet Cake Recipe

A classic, delicious red velvet cake recipe!

Photos via CakeSpy

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Enjoy detailed instruction as you master the techniques to mix, bake, fill and frost everyone’s favorite cakes, from mouthwatering carrot cake to luscious red velvet.Enroll Now »

Iconic, delicious and easy to bake

Red velvet cake is an undeniable classic. It’s a study in contrasts: in spite of its brazen  color, the flavor of the cake is actually quite subtle, gently scented with cocoa and the slightest tang from buttermilk. It’s often served with rich cream cheese icing, which offers a delectable, assertively flavored contrast to the somewhat mild cake. 

This recipe yields thick layers of tender-crumbed cake, which are sandwiched and topped generously with cream cheese icing. The visual is stunning: once cut into, the snowy icing reveals a ravishing red interior. This cake is a treat for the eyes as well as a treat for the palate.Red velvet slice

Classic red velvet cake recipe

Makes one 2-layer, 9-inch cake

Cake ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa (not dutch-process), sifted
  • 1 teaspoon concentrated gel food coloring
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons water
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or buttermilk substitute)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar

Cream cheese frosting ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 12 ounces (1 1/2 eight ounce packages) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5-7 cups confectioners’ sugar 
  • Pinch of salt 

Step 1: Get ready

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease, flour, and line with parchment two 9-inch round cake pans.

Step 2: Combine & mix

In a small bowl, combine the sifted cocoa, food coloring, and water. Mix together until it forms a thick but lump-free paste. Set to the side.

Making red velvet cake

Step 3: Stir & set

In a medium bowl, combine the cake flour and salt. Give them a stir to combine; set to the side.

Step 4: Mix until fluffy

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar. Mix on medium-high speed for 3 minutes; the mixture should be fluffy.

Creaming butter  to make cream cheese frosting

Step 5: Eggs & more

Add the eggs, one at a time, pausing to scrape down the sides of the bowl with each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Stir in the coloring mix.

Red velvet cake batter

Step 6: The need for speed

Add the flour alternately with the buttermilk, mixing on low speed and scraping the bowl after each addition. Now, gear yourself up to move quickly for a few minutes. Don’t be tempted to pick up the phone or take a bathroom break.

Step 7: Baking soda & vinegar

In a medium bowl, combine the baking soda and vinegar (it will briefly bubble up like a science fair volcano; don’t panic, that’s why you used a medium bowl) and add it immediately to the batter. Mix until combined.

Step 8: Divide & conquer

Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans, and put the pans in the preheated oven.

Batter in pan

Step 9: Time to bake

Bake for 22-25 minutes or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Step 10: Remove cake from pan

Immediately run a sharp knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the edges, then let the cakes cool in the pans for several minutes before inverting on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting. If the cakes have formed domes, level them using a serrated knife.

Red velvet cake

Step 11: Frosting fun

Make the frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese and butter until very smooth. Stir in the vanilla. Add the confectioners’ sugar one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition and pausing to scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed, until the frosting is smooth and spreadable. You may not use all of the confectioners’ sugar.

Cream cheese icing

Step 12: Assemble your cake

Assemble the cake. Place one of the layers with the flattest side up on a serving platter. Coat it generously with a thick layer of cream cheese icing. Place the second layer on top, flattest side up again. 

Ice the red velvet cake

Apply a thin crumb coat all over the cake, and let the cake sit in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes before using the rest of the icing to cover the top and sides of the cake.

Iced cake

Store in the refrigerator, and serve at room temperature. This tempting treat is sure to be popular, so be sure you save yourself a slice or two for yourself!

The Ultimate Cake-Baking Toolbox

ultimate cake-baking toolbox craftsy class

Enjoy detailed instruction as you master the techniques to mix, bake, fill and frost everyone’s favorite cakes, from mouthwatering carrot cake to luscious red velvet.Enroll Now »

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