Decadent Red Velvet Cake: A Classic Dessert with a Vibrant Red Color

Red Velvet Cake
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Red velvet cake is a classic dessert with a vibrant red color and a moist, velvety texture. This recipe will teach you how to make this classic cake from scratch.

Red Velvet Cake: A Southern Staple with a Hint of Chocolate

Red velvet cake, a beloved dessert with its vibrant red hue and velvety texture, is a cornerstone of Southern cuisine. While traditional recipes have evolved over time, the essence of red velvet cake remains the same: a harmonious blend of flour, cocoa powder, buttermilk, vinegar, and, of course, red food coloring.

A Misconception Debunked: Is Red Velvet Cake Just Chocolate Cake with Red Food Coloring?

The answer is a resounding no. While red velvet cake does contain a small amount of cocoa powder, it’s not enough to classify it as a chocolate cake. The cocoa powder merely enhances the subtle chocolate flavor, while the other key ingredients, buttermilk and vinegar, contribute to the cake’s signature moistness and tangy undertone.

Essential Baking Tips for a Perfect Red Velvet Cake

Room Temperature Ingredients: Except for the hot coffee or water, ensure your eggs and buttermilk are at room temperature. This promotes a uniform batter and a consistently textured cake.

The Role of Hot Coffee or Water: As in the best chocolate cake recipe, red velvet cake utilizes hot coffee to amplify the hint of chocolate flavor. If coffee isn’t available, hot water works as a substitute. The heat activates the cocoa powder, releasing its full flavor potential.

Buttermilk Alternatives: Buttermilk is the traditional choice for red velvet cake, imparting a rich and tender crumb. While buttermilk substitutes exist, whole milk is a more viable option. However, be prepared for a slight difference in taste and texture.

Food Coloring Choice: For a vibrant red velvet cake, opt for gel food coloring over liquid or natural food coloring. Gel food coloring provides a more concentrated color, requiring at least 3 teaspoons, sometimes more, depending on the brand.

Step-by-Step Guide to Red Velvet Cake Perfection

Prepare the Cake Batter: Grease and flour three 8-inch cake pans lined with parchment rounds. Whisk together hot coffee and cocoa powder, setting aside for 5 minutes. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In a large bowl, cream together sugar, vegetable oil, and melted butter. Add eggs and egg yolk, whisking until well combined. Incorporate buttermilk, vanilla, and food coloring. Whisk in the vinegar-coffee mixture, followed by the flour mixture, folding until just combined. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans and bake at 325°F for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Craft the Cream Cheese Icing: Beat cream cheese and butter until light and smooth. Add vanilla and beat until combined. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar until the frosting reaches a fluffy consistency.

Assemble the Cake: Place a cooled cake layer on a cake plate and top with a generous layer of frosting. Repeat with the remaining layers. Finish by frosting the sides and top of the cake, using an offset spatula for a smooth finish. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Additional Tips and FAQs

Cake Pan Selection: Use three 8-inch cake pans for optimal results. Avoid darkly coated nonstick pans, as they can lead to dry or overbaked cake edges.

9-Inch Cake Pan Adaptation: While designed for 8-inch pans, this recipe can be adapted for two 9-inch pans. Fill each pan 3/4 full and increase baking time by 5-10 minutes.

Preventing Sticking: Line cake pans with parchment rounds and generously spray the sides and parchment with nonstick cooking spray.

Frosting Options: Cream cheese frosting is the classic choice for red velvet cake, but if you prefer a more stable frosting, opt for the best buttercream frosting instead.

Red Velvet Cupcakes: Divide the batter among 24 cupcake cavities, filling each 3/4 full, and bake for 17-20 minutes.

Make-Ahead and Freezing Instructions: Wrap unfrosted cake layers in plastic wrap and store in a freezer bag or airtight container for up to 4 days at room temperature or up to 2 months in the freezer. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator.

 Decadent Red Velvet Cake: A Classic Dessert with a Vibrant Red Color

A classic cake that is perfect for any occasion. It is moist, flavorful, and has a beautiful red velvet color.

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Cook Time 110 min Total Time 1 hr 50 mins Difficulty: Beginner Servings: 12



  1. For the cake:
    1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line three 8-inch cake pans with parchment rounds and spray parchment and sides of pans generously with nonstick cooking spray.
    2. In a glass measuring cup, whisk the hot coffee and cocoa powder. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.
    3. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
    4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, vegetable oil, and melted butter. Add in the eggs and yolk and whisk for twenty seconds, or until very well combined. Add in the buttermilk, vanilla and food coloring and whisk to combine. Whisk in the vinegar and coffee mixture. Using a fine mesh sieve, sift the flour mixture into the batter in three additions, whisking until each addition is incorporated.
    5. Divide the batter equally between the prepared pans. Tap the bottoms of the pans against the counter several times to release any air bubbles.
    6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. It’s normal for the cake to look slightly spongy on top. Place the cake pans on cooling racks. When the pans are cool enough to touch, run a thin knife around the edges of the pans to loosen the cakes. Invert onto the wire racks. Let cool completely.
  2. For the frosting:
    1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until very light, creamy, and smooth. 
    2. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl to ensure no clumps remain.
    3. Add in the vanilla and beat until combined. 
    4. On low speed, gradually add in the sugar and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. 
    5. If the frosting is too thick, add a splash of milk or cream. 
    6. If it’s too thin, add more sifted powdered sugar.
Keywords: Red Velvet Cake, Cake, Dessert, American, Easy, Holiday, Birthday, Frosting

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