Red Velvet Cake

Up until recently, every time I wanted to make a red velvet cake, I would always just make it with Betty Crocker’s red velvet box mix because I didn’t know how to make my own red velvet cake. 

I HAVE NOW LEARNT!

This cake…..so soft, so fluffy, so moist. I am in love with it.

A slice of the red velvet cake on a white plate, with the full cake in the background.

Video Tutorial

Is red velvet cake just a chocolate cake?

I’m always seeing people say that red velvet cake is just chocolate cake. First of all, my question is….do you not like fun?

Even if it was just chocolate cake, the redness of it makes it so much more fun so I don’t see the problem.

But secondly it’s so much more than just a chocolate cake with food colouring.

Red velvet cake is a cake that has a small amount of cocoa powder, but it also has buttermilk and vinegar in it. These 3 ingredients together give you such a soft, fluffy cake that has a slight chocolatey and tangy flavour.

Then it is also paired with a cream cheese icing which goes so well with the cake!

The full red velvet cake covered in cream cheese icing, with red velvet cake crumbs sprinkled on top.

Ingredients for the cake

Most of the ingredients for this red velvet cake are your basic ingredients you would use for a typical cake.

There are just a few I wanted to talk about:

The oil

I used both butter and oil for this. To be honest I use both for most of my cakes.

The butter adds great flavour, and the oil adds moistness.

I get asked a lot about which oil I use, any flavourless oil works. I always use vegetable oil, rapeseed oil to be more specific. But again, any flavourless oil works!

The buttermilk 

Red velvet cake needs to have buttermilk in, don’t try substituting this. It’s not red velvet cake unless buttermilk is added.

If you bake a lot, you might have seen a buttermilk substitute which is just milk and lemon juice/vinegar mixed together.

This does work for most recipes, however for this, I do recommend using actual buttermilk. It will give you a much better result.

The vinegar

You also can’t have red velvet cake without vinegar.

The vinegar reacts with the baking soda which gives your cake an extra lift as it bakes, giving you a much fluffier cake.

I use white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar works great too. 

If you really did want to use something else, the same amount of lemon juice will work, but vinegar works best!

The red velvet cake batter inside one silver cake tin before being baked.
1 red velvet cake layer in a cake tin, after being baked.

The food colouring

To make this cake red, we need to use red food colouring.

Side note, you absolutely don’t need to add the food colouring. It will taste exactly the same without it, but like I said, it’s not as fun unless it’s red. 

The kind of food colouring you use is important, it’s best to use a gel or paste food colouring. I don’t recommend using  a liquid one.

In order to get a bright red colour, quite a bit of food colouring needs to be used.

Liquid food colouring is not as concentrated as gel or paste. So to get a bright colour, so much is going to be needed, which is just going to add a lot of extra liquid to the cake batter.

So gel or paste is best!

What size cake tins should I use?

In the recipe I wrote that you should grease and line three 6 inch cake tins. 

I always use 6 inch cake tins, I think it’s just a great size cake.

But if you don’t have them, you could also just use two 7 or 8 inch tins instead. Your layers might just be a little thinner!

3 of the red velvet cake layers in silver cake tins, after being baked.

The cream cheese frosting

The frosting I made for this red velvet cake uses the same ingredients every cream cheese frosting uses….butter, icing/powdered sugar, cream cheese and vanilla.

The only difference is that I add some corn flour/corn starch.

Sometimes when a frosting is too thin, people add extra sugar to thicken it. Corn flour is a great way to add extra powder, in order to thicken it, without adding extra sweetness.

This is optional though, it will be fine without it!

Looking for other cake recipes, here are some of my favourites:

Red Velvet Cake

Ingredients

  • For the cake:
  • 125g unsalted butter, softened

  • 100ml any flavourless oil (I use vegetable oil)

  • 250g granulated sugar

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 4 eggs

  • 140g buttermilk

  • 230g plain flour

  • 20g cocoa powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar

  • Plus some gel red food colouring

  • For the cream cheese frosting:
  • 250g unsalted butter, softened

  • 250g icing sugar, sieved

  • 30g corn flour

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 500g full fat cream cheese

Directions

  • Making the cake:
  • Start by pre-heating your oven to 180c/350f. Also grease and line three 6 inch cake tins.
  • In a large bowl, add your softened butter, oil, sugar and vanilla. Using an electric mixer, beat these together on high speed for 5 minutes. If you're making this by hand, just whisk aggressively for as long as you can.
  • Add 2 of your eggs into this and mix. Then mix in the remaining 2 eggs, buttermilk and red food colouring.
  • Now add the flour and cocoa powder. Whisk just until you get a smooth batter.
  • In a separate small bowl, add the baking soda and then pour the vinegar over it. This will start bubbling, give it a quick mix, then straight away pour it into your cake batter and mix until incorporated.
  • Divide this batter between your cake tins and bake for around 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Once baked leave to cool completely.
  • Making the cream cheese frosting:
  • In a large bowl, add the softened butter and beat this for about 1 minute, just to loosen it up.
  • Add half of the icing sugar to this and mix. Now add the rest of the icing sugar, the corn flour and vanilla. Mix until combined and then beat this on high speed for 5 minutes.
  • Add the cream cheese into this and mix until you get a smooth, thick mixture. It might be a little lumpy at first, sometimes the frosting is also thin at first, but just keep mixing.
  • Leave this aside until you're ready to use it.
  • Assembling:
  • Once your cakes have cooled, you can start putting everything together.
  • I like to cut the top of the cake layers off, to make them flat but you don't have too.
  • Place a cake layer down on a cake board or plate, add some of the frosting on top of this and spread it out. Add the other layer on top, add more frosting, then add the final layer.
  • Now just ice and decorate the cake however you want, then cut into it and enjoy!
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