Red Velvet Cake Recipe

Velvet cakes have been around for well into the 1800’s. Recipes though called for the use of cocoa to soften flour and make finer texture cakes, so this smoother texture gave these cakes the name velvet cakes, also there was such a thing as mahogany cake that was also very popular which actually interestingly incorporated cocoa and coffee. By the early 1900s recipes surfaced for cocoa velvet cakes, red cocoa cakes, and other variations. When items best used for baking, like butter and sugar, were rationed during World War II, some bakers began adding beets or beet juice to their cakes, which sounds extremely disgusting but somehow still worked. This was done for a variety of reasons so don’t worry about having beets in your food! The red from the beet juice made the cakes more appealing, and the beets also acted as a filler and kept the cakes moist.


Stuff for the batter:

  • 2 ⅔ cups cake flour
  • ¼ cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter 
  • 1 ¾ granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup canola oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 ounce bottle liquid red food color
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 ⅓ cups buttermilk

Stuff for the cream cheese frosting:

  • 12 ounces cream cheese
  • ¾ unsalted butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract


Instructions for baking the velvet cake


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray two nine-inch cake pans with nonstick cooking spray, line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper, and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Then sift the dry ingredients to remove any lumps of cocoa powder. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed for four-five minutes. Add the eggs and mix until fully combined, then mix in the oil, red food color, vanilla extract, and vinegar stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  4. Mix in the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Make sure to mix each addition until just combined and be careful not to over mix the batter.
  5. Evenly distribute the cake batter between the two prepared cake pans and spread the batter around into one even layer. Tap the pan on the counter two-three times to remove any air bubbles from the cakes.
  6. Bake at 350°F for twenty eight to thirty two minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Carefully remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool in the pan for fifteen to twenty minutes. Then, carefully remove the cakes from the cake pan and place on a wire rack to cool completely.


How to make the cream cheese frosting


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the butter and mix for about thirty seconds to a minute until well combined and smooth.
  2. Mix in the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and continue mixing until fully combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.