Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet Cake with reduced colorant.. same unique, delicious taste

Red Velvet Cake recipe with Cream Cheese Frosting.

UPDATE: Includes additional information on the origin of Red Velvet Cake and a recipe for Ermine Frosting, a delicious creamy, not too sweet type of frosting.

Many historians believe Ermine Frosting was on the original Red Velvet Cake.

Recipe makes three layers of delicious old fashioned cake from scratch, using a minimum amount of food coloring.

There are numerous stories circulating, explaining the origin of this famous cake.

I believe the story about it originating by the owner of the John A Adams Extract Company.

The company started selling flavoring extracts, spices, and food coloring in 1888.

The story goes that the company wasn't moving it's products too well so Mr. or Mrs. Adams came up with this recipe, using an entire bottle of food coloring.

Subsequently,  he advertised his business with pictures of this  "bright red cake" and a recipe for Red Velvet Cake containing butter flavoring, vanilla extract, and red food coloring, ingredients they sold.

Sales soared according to the legend.

Good news! A Red Velvet Cake does not need two, three, or more tablespoons of food coloring that most recipes call for, to attain that
brilliant red color!

Red Velvet Cake Recipe

  • 2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil (I use Wesson Oil)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon non-sweetened powdered cocoa
  • 1 tablespoon liquid red food coloring

Sift together sifted flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt into a small bowl.

Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl add vegetable oil, buttermilk, eggs, vanilla extract, and vinegar.

Mix on medium speed 1 minute.

In a small glass container stir together cocoa powder and red food coloring until smooth.

Add mixture to batter and beat 1 more minute.

Fold in flour mixture and continue mixing for 1 more minute on medium speed.

Scrape down sides of bowl and bottom to get any flour clinging to them.

Beat 30 more seconds.

Pour into three 8" cake baking pans that have been greased, lined with waxed paper or parchment paper, greased again and lightly floured.

Bake in a preheated oven 350F. for 20-25 minutes just until tested done.

It is important that you do not overcook these delicate cake layers so they are kept moist and tender.

Remove from oven and let set 5-10 minutes.

Turn out onto a wire rack covered with a linen or other non-terry cloth to cool.

Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) cold butter
  • 2 (8 oz. bars) cream cheese
  • 4 cups sifted powdered sugar (to remove any lumps)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tablespoons cream or whole milk (if needed)*

Take butter and cream cheese out of refrigerator and let reach room temperature.

It takes less than an hour.

Cream butter and cream cheese together in a mixing bowl on high speed.

Stir in vanilla extract.

Gradually add sugar, a little at a time while beating on low speed, until all is incorporated.

Turn mixer to high speed and beat 2-3 minutes until light and creamy enough to spread on your thoroughly cooled cake.

*You probably won't need the cream or milk.

However, some butters contain a higher percentage of fat than others, affecting the consistency of your frosting.

If your frosting becomes too thick to spread easily, add a little of the cream or milk until it reaches the desired spreading consistency.

Should your frosting become too thin for you (could happen if your butter becomes too warm before you start beating it), add a little additional powdered sugar to thicken it.

The goal of this frosting is to get it to as soft a butter cream texture as possible, without it running off down the sides of the cake. Yummy!

Store cake in a covered cake pan. 

This cake seems to have improved texture and taste the next day making it an excellent make ahead cake!

Ermine Frosting

  • 1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 3 sticks cold, salted butter (1 1/2 cup)
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated white sugar (fine sugar, preferably)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract*

Add flour in a medium saucepan.

Slowly stir in milk until mixture is smooth and lump free.

Turn on medium heat and continue stirring and cooking until mixture starts to bubble.

Turn heat to low (to help prevent sticking) and cook while continuing to stir until mixture is thick as pudding.

Takes 2-3 minutes.

Using a wooden spoon to stir instead of a wire whisk is better because it reaches all surfaces on the bottom of pan, preventing sticking.

Remove from heat, cover with a lid and let cool  completely.

Add butter to a stand mixer bowl and cream slightly.

Add sugar a little at a time, creaming after each addition on high speed.

Cream until light and fluffy and mixture is no longer grainy when tested by rubbing a little between two fingers.

Add cooled milk and sugar mixture a few tablespoons at a time, until all is added.

Continue beating on high speed until frosting is the consistency of fluffy whipped cream.

Frost cooled cake between layers, on top and sides.

Make decorative swirls on top and sides, if desired.

Store Red Velvet Cake in refrigerator until served.

Return to Old Fashioned Cake Recipes


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