Red velvet cake with deep red color and bursting with a rich cocoa flavor is one of my go-to cakes when I want to impress people.
This amazing red velvet cake is frosted with a tangy and sweet cream cheese frosting and decorated with a heart-shaped cake topper and little red cake crumbs.
It is so delicious, perfectly moist, and bursting with flavor. If I can do it, you can do it. Let’s get baking!
Step 1: Gather the ingredients
In order to make this delicious red velvet cake we need several everyday ingredients:
- Butter – I usually use unsalted butter, but salted butter will work fine. It gives the cake a wonderful flavor.
- Sugar – The sugar adds sweetness and texture to the cake.
- Eggs – The eggs will add structure and moisture to the cake as well as some leavening.
- Unsweetened cocoa powder – The cocoa powder really makes this cake shine. Amp up the cocoa flavor even more by adding a bit extra.
- Buttermilk – The buttermilk will activate the baking soda as well as make the cake moist. Don’t have buttermilk? Make this homemade buttermilk substitute.
- Vanilla Extract – This will enhance the flavor of the other ingredients.
- White distilled vinegar – The vinegar will react with the baking soda to help the cake rise and create a lighter texture.
- Oil – I usually use vegetable oil. But other oil will work too, like canola, coconut, etc. The oil helps to make the cake more tender and adds moisture.
- Red food coloring – You can’t have red velvet cake without some sort of red food coloring.
- Flour – If you can, use cake flour, if not all-purpose/plain flour will work too. I don’t recommend using self-rising flour for this cake.
- Baking soda – This will add most of the leavening.
- Salt – The salt will enhance the other flavors of the ingredients as well as balance out the sweetness.
Step 2: How to make a red velvet cake
Begin by preheating the oven to 350 F/176 C. Now it is time to make the red velvet layered cake batter. In a large bowl add the butter and the sugar and cream them together with a hand mixer or stand mixer.
Next add in the eggs one at a time, mixing in between. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed throughout the whole cake batter making process.
Step 3: Cocoa powder for rich chocolate flavor
Next use a sifter or sieve and add in the cocoa powder. You can also add in the cocoa powder to the flour mixture but I usually add it right to the creamed sugar, butter, and eggs.
Mix the cocoa powder in until just incorporated. You don’t want to mix it too much, otherwise it introduces too much air into the batter which can cause large air pockets in the cake when it bakes.
Step 4: How red velvet layered cake gets its color
How does a red velvet cake get its color? Take your buttermilk and add the vanilla extract and white vinegar to it. Stir until well combined.
Next add in the oil and finally add in enough red food coloring to get a deep red color. It usually takes 2 to 2 and a half tablespoons worth. Set that red mixture aside for now.
Step 5: Finish the easy red velvet cake batter
In a separate medium bowl whisk together the cake four, or you can use all-purpose/pain flour, baking soda, and salt.
Next add in about half of the red liquid mixture and about half of the flour mixture into the main cake batter bowl.
After it is incorporated give the sides of the bowl a good scrape and add in the rest of the liquid and flour mixture. You will be left with a completed red velvet layered cake batter, ready to be baked.
Step 6: Bake that red velvet layered cake
Now take two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans and grease them with shortening or butter and dust them with cocoa powder or flour. I also like to cut a round piece of parchment paper and stick it on the bottom. Even though I have non-stick cake pans. I hate it when my cake sticks to them.
Divide up the batter equally between the two pans, and smooth or level off the top with a cake spatula. Or use a butter knife or normal spatula. Lightly tap the pans on the counter or table, this will help settle any bubbles of air that may be in there.
If you like you can soak cake strips in water and then put them around the pans. This helps ensure even baking and helps to prevent mounding of the cake when it bakes. In this case, I don’t mind the mounding, because I will level it and use the extra bits of cake for decorating.
Bake the two red velvet cake halves in the oven, middle rack position, for 23 to 30 minutes or until when you poke them in the middle a toothpick comes out clean.
Allow them to cool for about 10 minutes then remove them from the pans and remove the parchment paper if you use that and allow them to cool on a wire rack completely.
After that you can wrap them in plastic wrap and place them in the fridge to chill for about 30 minutes if you like. The chilled cake is easier to frost, but that step isn’t necessary.
Step 7: Homemade cream cheese frosting
In a medium bowl combine the softened cream cheese, softened butter, and vanilla extract, then mix until well combined.
No slowly add in the powdered sugar until you get the consistency that you want. You may need a little more powdered sugar or a little less. You can also chill the frosting for 30 minutes before frosting the cake.
Step 8: Decorating your easy homemade moist red velvet cake
Take your cakes and level them as needed using a bread knife or cake knife. Set those cake pieces aside because we can use them to decorate the cake, or you can crumble them up, add a bit of frosting and make red velvet cake pops.
Add one cake layer to your cake pedestal or cake board. Then add a generous amount of cream cheese frosting and spread it out evenly.
Next, add the second layer of cake on top of that and continue frosting until the whole cake is covered. There are a variety of tools that help make frosting cakes easier, I usually just use my cake spatula.
You will most likely have frosting left over, you may get away with halving the recipe and then making more as needed. Now place the frosted cake in the fridge and let the frosting sit for 20 to 30 minutes.
Now you can take a trimmed piece of cake and use a heart shaped cookie cutter to cut out a cake topper. You can use other shapes too if you like, or skip this decoration all together.
Now place the red heart-shaped cake topper on the top of the frosted cake. It looks really awesome just like this and you can certainly leave it like this.
Or you can take the remaining cake scraps and break them up into crumbs then using your hands place them on the sides of the cake.
Also, you can add the frosting to a pastry bag and use a star tip and pipe frosting around the heart. And make other designs if you like on top. Store in the fridge for a few hours before serving, enjoy!
How long will red velvet layered cake last?
Cover the cake with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for 4 to 5 days. You can also freeze the cake either frosted or unfrosted for a few months. Just remove it from the freezer and allow it to thaw at room temperature. Once it is thawed dig in or frost it.
Can I make cupcakes with this?
Sure! This will make around 24 cupcakes. Bake at the same temperature for 18 to 22 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean when poked.
Red Velvet Cake
- Hand Mixer or Stand Mixer
- 9-inch cake pans
- Parchment paper (optional)
- shortening or kitchen spray
- Flour or cocoa powder to dust the pans
- Wire racks
- cake spatula
- Bread knife
- Cake pedestal (optional)
- Cake Icing smoother or cake comb (optional)
- Heart-shaped cookie cutter (optional)
Red Velvet Cake
- 1/2 cup of unsalted butter room temperature (115g)
- 1 1/2 cups of white granulated sugar 300g
- 2 Large eggs add one at a time
- 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder 24g
- 1 cup of buttermilk 250mL (or use a tiny bit less then a cup plus 1 Tbsp. of vinegar or lemon juice, let sit for 10 minutes)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract 5mL
- 1 tsp. of white vinegar 5mL
- 1/4 cup of oil vegetable, etc. (55g)
- 2 to 2 1/2 Tbsp. of red food coloring liquid 30 to 40 mL
- 2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour or cake flour 320g
- 1 tsp. of baking soda 5g
- 1 tsp. of salt 5g
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 16 ounces of softened room temp cream cheese 450g
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract 5mL
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened (room temperature) (115g)
- 4 to 4 1/2 cups of confectioner’s sugar powdered sugar (440 to 500g)
- Preheat the oven to 350 F/176 C. Time to make the cake batter. In a large bowl cream together the softened butter and the granulated sugar. Then mix in the eggs one at a time until just combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed with a spatula.
- Sift in the cocoa powder and mix. Alternatively, you can add the cocoa powder in the flour. Don't overmix the batter, it will create too much air which can cause large air pockets once the cake is baked.
- In a separate bowl mix together the buttermilk, vanilla extract, vinegar, and oil. If you don't have buttermilk take one cup of whole milk and add 1 tbsp. of lemon juice or vinegar to it and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Now add in the red food coloring to the buttermilk mixture. Add enough to get a nice red color.
- In a separate bowl whisk together the flour and the salt, and the cocoa powder, if you didn't add it in with the sugar and butter.
- Finish the red velvet cake batter by adding in half of the red buttermilk mixture to the main bowl with the creamed sugar and butter. Also, add in half of the flour mixture. Mix until just barely combined and then add the other half of both of those mixtures.Mix until just combined. Sometimes I will just use my spatula and fold the ingredients in to help prevent over mixing.
- Grease two 9-inch pans with shortening or butter or kitchen spray. Then flour them or use cocoa powder. I also like to put a round piece of parchment paper on the bottom. Evenly divide the cake batter between the two pans and level off the top with a spatula.Give the pans a good tap, on the counter, which will settle air bubbles. Add water-soaked cake strips if you like around your cake pans. But that is optional.
- Bake the cakes in the middle rack position for 23 to 30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean when poked in the middle.
- After they are done baking, allow them to cool for about 10 minutes then remove them from their pans and remove the parchment paper.Allow them to cool on wire racks completely. It helps if you then wrap them and chill them in the fridge for 30 minutes before frosting, but that is optional.
- For the cream cheese frosting, in a large bowl cream together the softened cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract. Then add in the powdered sugar a cup at a time until you get your desired consistency. Frost the cake now or chill the frosting with the cake for 15 minutes.
- Time to decorate the cake. Add one layer to the cake board or cake pedestal. Then trim any part of the cake that is mounded. This is called leveling. Save that cake scrap for later. Add a generous amount of frosting and spread it out evenly.
- Add the top layer and level the top if desired. Frost the whole cake. You can leave it as is or add decorations.I like to take my heart-shaped cookie cutter and cut out a cake topper from the trimmed piece of cake. Place it on top of the cake. I also like to grind up the cake scraps into crumbs and stick them to the sides.You can also put some frosting in a piping bag and pipe on designs. Have fun with it! Place the cake coved in the fridge for a few hours before serving. Although you can serve it right away too, it cuts better when all the frosting is set. Enjoy!
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