recipe

Red Velvet Cake: an easy recipe for a velvety, chocolate-vanilla cake

Total time: 60 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 10 people
By Cookist
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Ingredients
for the cake
plain cake flour
2 2/3 cups
cocoa powder, unsweetened
2 tbsp
Baking soda
1 tsp
Salt
a pinch
Unsalted butter
1/2 cup
superfine white sugar
1 1/2 cups
Eggs
2
Oil
1 cup
White vinegar
1 tsp
Vanilla Extract
2 tsp
Buttermilk
1 cup
Red food coloring
2 1/2 tbsp
for the frosting
Cream Cheese
14 oz
butter, softened
1/2 cup
Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 tsp
Powdered sugar
4 cups
Salt
a pinch

With its beautiful, mouthwatering chocolate-vanilla flavor and eye-catching red color, red velvet cake is a much-loved American dessert that's is perfect for any occasion. This delicious cake gets its name from its rich, velvety texture and stunning red color.

Red velvet cake is mildly chocolatey, buttery, with a subtle hint of vanilla, and has a wonderfully moist, soft crumb. Butter adds flavor, while the oil gives moisture. The cake is decorated in creamy, sweet cream cheese frosting that makes each bite absolutely heavenly.

Homemade red velvet cake is ideal for special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries. Its red color makes it an ideal dessert to whip up for Valentine's Day!

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What is Red Velvet Cake?

Red velvet cake is a delightful, fluffy, tender dessert that takes like a mixture of vanilla and chocolate cake. It has a subtle, delicate tanginess thanks to the buttermilk used in the recipe. It's topped with a rich, sweet cream cheese frosting.

Red velvet cake gets its name from its characteristic red color and velvet-like texture. The cake dates to the earlier 20th century. It was popularized by the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City but is thought to be a Southern recipe.

Is Red Velvet Just a Chocolate Cake?

While red velvet is similar to chocolate cake, there are a few key differences between the two desserts. Red velvet has a chocolate-vanilla flavor, and a tanginess thanks to the addition of buttermilk and vinegar, which aren't used in classic chocolate cake recipes. Red velvet has much, much less cocoa powder in it than chocolate cake.

Red Velvet Cake Ingredients

Like most cakes, you need cake flour, eggs, baking soda, oil, and sugar to make a red velvet cake.

You'll also need a few extra ingredients to give the cake its signature velvety texture and color.

Buttermilk and vinegar are essential for making red velvet cake light and fluffy, as the acid in them reacts with the baking soda.

Cocoa powder and vanilla give the cake its irresistible chocolate-vanilla flavoring, while red food coloring gives the cake its color.

Use liquid food coloring, unless you're in the UK.

Bakers in the UK should use gel rather than liquid food coloring as it has a more intense hue.

To make the frosting, you'll need cream cheese, powdered sugar, and butter.

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How to Make Red Velvet Cake

It's super easy to make the best homemade red velvet cake for birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions. Start by greasing two cake pans with cooking spray (butter works, too) and preheating your oven to 350F. Grab a large bowl and sift the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. This will reduce the number of lumps in your batter and keep your cake light. Stir to combine.

In a second bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat the eggs into the butter mixture, one at a time. Add in the oil, vinegar, vanilla, food coloring, and buttermilk. Beat the flour mixture into the egg mixture until just combined. You don't want to overmix the batter!

Transfer the batter to the two cake pans, making sure to pour an equal amount into each pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Take the pans out of the oven and let the cakes cool. While the cakes are cooling, whisk the cream cheese, butter, salt, and vanilla in a large bowl.

Beat in powdered sugar until you're happy with the consistency. Slice the top off one of the cakes. Layer one cake with frosting. Place the other cake on top. Decorate the assembled cake with the remaining frosting.

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Frosting Ideas for Red Velvet Cake

This recipe uses a cream cheese frosting, which is the classic red velvet cake frosting. That said, you can easily swap it out for other types of frosting.

Buttercream, whipped cream frosting, or even meringue frosting would all work just as well in red velvet cake.

You can also jazz up your frosting by swapping out the vanilla extract for other flavors or adding some unsweetened cocoa powder to it to make your red velvet cake extra chocolatey.

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Tips for the Best Red Velvet Cake

Use room temperature ingredients to make your red velvet cake. This will make the ingredients blend together more easily.

Sifting the dry ingredients will help your batter be smooth and lump-free.

Don't overmix the batter – if you do, your cake will wind up dense instead of light and airy.

For the classic light, airy red velvet cake texture, nothing beats buttermilk. However, if you don't have any, substitute it for 1 tablespoon of white vinegar mixed into 1 cup of whole milk.

Don't have any red food coloring? No problem! You can leave the food coloring out of this recipe. While your cake won't be red, it'll still be velvety!

Your cakes are done baking when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean and crumb-free.

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How to Store Red Velvet Cake

Keep red velvet cake wrapped or in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

It will last for up to 5 days in the fridge but may dry out slightly.

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 350F. Grease two cake pans with cooking spray. Line parchment paper and add cocoa powder.

Sift the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Stir to combine.

In a second bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat the eggs one at a time.

Beat in the oil.

Pour in the vinegar.

Add in the vanilla.

Pour in the buttermilk.

Add in the food coloring.

Mix.

Beat the flour mixture into the egg mixture until just combined.

Pour the batter into the two cake pans.

Spread the batter evenly.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes in the pan, then place on a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, whisk the cream cheese, butter, salt, and vanilla in a large bowl with an electric mixer.

Beat in powdered sugar until it reaches your desired consistency and sweetness.

Slice the top off one of the cakes. Decorate one cake with frosting.

Place the other cake on top.

Decorate the assembled cake with the remaining frosting.

Decorate the red velvet cake with the crumb from the cake.

Slice, serve and enjoy!

Notes

Use 8-inch round cake pans to make your red velvet cake.

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