This RED VELVET CAKE is vibrant and beautiful, with a perfectly light yet dense crumb. The hint of cocoa compliments the subtle buttermilk flavor, and pairs perfectly with the sweet yet tangy cream cheese frosting!
Red velvet cake has a special place in my heart. My very first homemade layer cake was from Ree Drummond’s cookbook. And the rest is history. I was in love with baking.
Obsessed, actually. 🙂
Several years ago I stood in line for 5 hours to meet Ree for 30 seconds and have her sign my book. She’s the best!!
I’ve always been intrigued by red velvet as a flavor… It’s chocolate-y, but definitely not chocolate. It’s light and fluffy like a white cake, but no, it’s bright red.
What are you, red velvet?!
It really doesn’t matter, though. This cake is perfect. It’s not only vibrant and beautiful, but the texture is a perfect balance between dense and fluffy. The hint of cocoa perfectly compliments the slight tang of buttermilk. And paired with a classic cream cheese frosting… I need not say more.
The game-changer for this red velvet recipe is cake flour. I strongly suggest purchasing some if you don’t already have it. Cake flour has a much finer texture than all-purpose flour, and has a lower protein content… it’s what gives this cake the light and fluffy, bakery-style texture. (Side note- I am sharing my chocolate chip cookie recipe soon which uses cake flour too, and you DEFINITELY want to make those… so might as well go ahead and get cake flour now.)
If you haven’t made a layer cake before, don’t be intimidated. I know you can do this… I believe in you! Follow the instructions exactly and shoot me a note with any questions. I promise to be quick to respond! Also, I’ve included some really helpful notes, so please read through the recipe before starting. One more note- if you want to fully frost the sides of the cake, go for it- that looks great too! I had fun taking a classic cake and making it a bit rustic with the “naked” frosted sides, but I think it looks great both ways.
This is the PERFECT dessert to add to your Christmas dinner or take to a holiday party! Please let me know if you make it!
30 minPrep Time
20 minCook Time
50 minTotal Time
Yields 1 9-inch 2-layer cake
- 12 tablespoons (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs (room temperature)
- 2 1/2 cups cake flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup buttermilk (room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons natural cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons red food coloring (liquid)
- 16 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
- 16 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 4-8 cups powdered sugar (depends on preference)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9-inch round baking pans with butter. Grease pan lightly with butter. Cut two circles of parchment paper the size of the pans and place in pans. Grease parchment paper lightly with butter.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In another bowl, whisk buttermilk, vinegar, and vanilla. Set aside.
- Mix cocoa with food coloring in small bowl until a smooth paste forms. Set aside.
- Beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes(I use the paddle attachment on my mixer).
- Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until combined.
- Alternating between flour and buttermilk (start and end with flour) add to butter and sugar with mixer on LOW speed until just combined (do not overmix!).
- Scrape down bowl, add cocoa mixture, and beat on LOW speed until combined (about 20 seconds, again- be careful not to overmix!).
- Pour into prepared pans and bake about 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (The batter will be very thick- use a spatula to spread evenly and beat pans on counter to spread batter out and remove air pockets).
- Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes then turn out onto rack to cool cakes to room temperature.
- For the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer (I use paddle attachment), beat cream cheese, butter, vanilla and salt at medium-high speed until fluffy (about 2 minutes), scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed.
- Add powdered sugar and mix until very fluffy, about 1 minute (I always start with 4 cups and then add more to get the consistency and taste I like). Refrigerate until ready to use.
- For assembly: If you want the crumbled cake for decoration, use a large serrated knife or cake leveler to slice a thin layer off the tops of your cakes. Crumble into a bowl and set aside.
- Place one cake layer cut side down on a serving plate and spread about 2 cups of frosting on one cake layer (don’t spread too close to the edges). Place second layer cut side down on top and add remaining frosting to top and sides. For the "naked" frosting look, use a offset spatula to remove excess frosting on the sides. Add crumbled red velvet cake to top for decoration.
- Cover and refrigerate. Remove 30 minutes to an hour before serving.
Adapted from Joy of Baking and Taste of Home Red Velvet Cake recipes.