With the holidays upon us, home cooks everywhere are scrounging for delicious recipes fit for the times and the occasion. This red velvet cake is as comforting as it is beautiful, making it a favorite in my house this time of year.
Here, fluffy, cocoa-scented cake layers are frosted with a tangy cream cheese buttercream that brings balance to the mild layers. If you’re serving a smaller crew this year, you can halve the recipe and bake it in three smaller 6-inch round pans.
Just bake the layers until slightly puffed and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Red Velvet Cake
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
For the cake:
- 3/4 cup (170 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ½ cup (120 grams) canola oil
- 2 cups (400 grams) sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2-1/3 cups (320 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1½ teaspoons baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1-1/4 cups (300 grams) whole milk, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup (60 grams) white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons red food coloring (optional)
For the frosting:
- 1-1/2 cups (285 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 block / 8 ounces (225 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla
- Approximately 5 cups / 1½ pounds (680 grams) of powdered sugar
To prepare the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease three 8-inch round pans and line the bottoms with pieces of parchment paper cut to fit inside the bottom.
- In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter, oil and sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Stir to combine.
- In a separate bowl, gently whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, vinegar and vanilla. Add half of the dry ingredients mixture to the butter and stir on low to combine. Add half of the liquid ingredients and stir just to combine. Scrape the sides of the bowl and then repeat this process. Add the red food coloring and stir to combine. Divide the batter equally among the three pans and bake in the preheated oven until puffed and a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 22-25 minutes. Allow to cool completely prior to frosting.
To prepare the frosting:
- In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed (I use 4 on my stand mixer) for 2-3 minutes until light and creamy, scraping the bowl as necessary. Add the cream cheese and beat to incorporate for an additional minute. Add the salt, vanilla and powdered sugar and beat on low speed until incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl and continue to beat until well combined. Do not overbeat, as this can cause the cream cheese to loosen. If needed, add a tablespoon of water or milk at a time to get the frosting the right consistency. Refrigerate as needed to thicken the frosting up.
To assemble the cake:
- Use a serrated knife to level the cakes. Smooth a small amount of frosting on an 8-inch cake board or plate and center a single cake layer on top. Smoothly spread a thick layer of frosting on top, extending the buttercream all the way to just beyond the edge of the cake. Stack the second cake layer on top and repeat the entire process once more. Place the final cake layer on top. Spread a thin coat of frosting (crumb coat) all over the cake and allow it to set up in the fridge prior to applying the final coat of frosting. You can skip this step if desired. Finish frosting the cake as desired with the rest of the buttercream. Cake will keep in the refrigerator covered in plastic for up to three days.