How to Make Red Velvet Cake

A decadent dessert for Valentine's Day


With the recent cupcake and whoopie pie sensations, red velvet-style desserts have become incredibly popular. The cake’s dense, moist texture and rich chocolate flavor set it apart from other more traditional cakes. And while both cakes and cupcakes are delicious, the theme has caught on in cookies, biscotti and more.

Despite this fame, the cakes are relatively easy to make, approachable for returning bakers and children chefs alike. The source for the famously rich red color can change according to the recipe and chef in question, and while some insist on using beet juice for color and a kick of flavor, others rely on a handy combination of red food coloring and cocoa powder.

Whatever your choice, you are in for a moist and delicious cake that all will love.

Photo courtesy texascooking via Flickr/CC
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This recipe uses the red food coloring method rather than beet juice and can be made from cake flour or regular flour depending on your baking preferences. If using regular flour, use one cup minus two tablespoons for each cup of cake flour called for.

Surprise someone special in your life with a made-from-scratch red velvet cake this Valentine's Day. The bright romantic color and decadent flavor will leave all who eat it swooning.

Red Velvet Cake

Can easily be made into cupcakes by using cupcake pan and shortening bake time.

2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 oz red food coloring
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In small side bowl, make a paste out of food coloring and cocoa powder so no lumps remain.

In separate large bowl, cream together sugar and butter. Beat in eggs one at a time, then beat in red cocoa paste mixture. Add flour mixture to creamed sugar and butter alternatively with buttermilk, mixing well between additions. After last addition of flour mixture, stir in vanilla and vinegar.

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool, then frost with cream cheese frosting. Lightly dust cocoa powder over frosting for added emphasis.

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  • Snooth User: Mimi Kim
    Hand of Snooth
    648878 3,074

    Thanks for sharing! I love red velvet and it's a great idea for Vday.

    Feb 13, 2012 at 1:18 PM

  • Snooth User: my bottle
    323479 37

    It seems that for the last 20 years or so Red Velvet Cake has been made with cream cheese frosting. However, when I was a girl it was made with boiled frosting and I can't find a recipe for it. When I search on-line the recipes are for an Italian meringue, nice but not the same as the boiled frosting I remember, there were no stiff egg whites involved. Does anyone have a recipe?

    Feb 13, 2012 at 2:42 PM

  • Snooth User: penny1948
    288623 0

    I always used a recipe with stiff beaten egg whites and a cooked sugar syrup.. In my old Betty Crocker book it was called White Mountain Frosting and in the new one it is called Fluffy White Frosting

    Feb 13, 2012 at 3:08 PM

  • Snooth User: my bottle
    323479 37

    Yes, that is the type of recipe I find when I do a search. The one I remember was more like a buttercream than a meringue.

    Feb 13, 2012 at 3:40 PM

  • Snooth User: njudin
    285650 0

    this is the frosting recipe I used to use 40 years ago:

    Feb 13, 2012 at 3:51 PM

  • Snooth User: Kate Statton
    Hand of Snooth
    853836 1,080

    hi my bottle- when searching i tried to search "boiled buttercream frosting" instead of just "boiled frosting" and came up with a few more options. this frosting recipe on blog "piping dreams" seems like it could be just right. check it out and let me know if it is what you're thinking of!!

    Feb 13, 2012 at 3:54 PM

  • I have the recipe for a custard type icing. It is what I grew up with and I like it better than the cream cheese icing. Here it is:

    5 T flour 1 c milk
    1 c sugar 1 c butter
    1 t vanilla

    While cake cools, combine flour and milk. Cook over low heat stirring constantly, until thick. Do not allow lumps to form. Remove from heat and cool. Cream sugar, butter and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add cooled flour mixture. Beat until the right spreading consistency, about 5 minutes on high. It will not be ‘grainy’ from sugar.

    Feb 13, 2012 at 4:52 PM

  • Snooth User: my bottle
    323479 37

    Thanks so much Kate, njudin and Karen! These look like variations of the frosting I remember, can't wait to make it tonight!

    Feb 13, 2012 at 6:26 PM

  • Snooth User: clarkcl
    268989 7

    The above frosting recipe is the original, I have had this cake since about 7 years old and I am 57 now. My aunt got it from a newspaper and it was called American Beauty Red Cake, I did not hear it called Red Velvet cake until I was an adult but it always had the cream cheese frosting which is good but I prefer the original child hood treat that became a family birthday favorite and also for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

    Feb 13, 2012 at 8:53 PM

  • Snooth User: my bottle
    323479 37

    YEA! This was the frosting of my childhood. The recipes were all pretty similar but I used the one from njudin. We now have gorgeous and delicious red velvet cupcakes.

    Feb 13, 2012 at 10:05 PM

  • Although I use a contemporary cream cheese frosting recipe, here's the traditional boiled frosting recipe I received along with the original (Waldorf Astoria) cake recipe.

    Red Velvet Cake Icing

    3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    1 cup unsalted butter, softened
    1 cup milk
    1 cup sugar
    1 teaspoon vanilla

    Slowly whisk the flour with the milk in a saucepan until smooth. Cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat until thick, about 5 minutes. Let cool. Beat the butter with the sugar in a large bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla. Slowly beat in the cooled milk mixture. Spread the icing over the tops of three cake layers. Place one on top of the other and top with remaining layer. Ice the sides and top of the cake.

    Feb 13, 2012 at 11:55 PM

  • Snooth User: Kate Statton
    Hand of Snooth
    853836 1,080

    my bottle - so glad you found what worked!!!!

    Feb 14, 2012 at 10:08 AM

  • Snooth User: Anehring
    615708 0

    TO MY BOTTLE - this is the icing my mother use to make:



    Feb 14, 2012 at 1:43 PM

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