Red Velvet Cake

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Perfect Red Velvet Cake Recipe FROM SCRATCH! Just the right hint of chocolate with a kick, it's everything you'd want from a classic Southern red velvet. Bakes perfectly as a layer cake or cupcakes with no modification. Recipe on GoodieGodmother.com

This is my perfect red velvet cake recipe. It’s the best red velvet cake I’ve tried, and it’s most definitely *not* chocolate cake with red food coloring, because that, my darlings, is *not* red velvet cake contrary to what I have heard/seen in my life outside the South. Bless. The mark of a really good red velvet cake is a slight tang from vinegar and buttermilk, just the right hint of chocolate, and an incredibly moist, but not super dense, crumb. This recipe is all of that, and I’ve used it for years as both a layer cake and cupcake recipe with incredible results each and every bake. 

While the red velvet cake is largely considered a Southern treat, it appears its roots are in New York City where the Waldorf Astoria hotel created the recipe and called it the Waldorf Astoria cake sometimes around the Depression Era. I’ve always known it to be a distinctly Southern cake though, and it’s rare to find a truly delicious recipe outside of the South.

Perfect Red Velvet Cake Recipe FROM SCRATCH! Just the right hint of chocolate with a kick, it's everything you'd want from a classic Southern red velvet. Bakes perfectly as a layer cake or cupcakes with no modification. Recipe on GoodieGodmother.com

Red velvet shouldn’t be too sweet, since the cake is often topped with cream cheese frosting, so you want a nice balance of flavors. In some more traditional Southern kitchens, you may also find red velvet topped with a dressing made from a roux with flour, sugar, and water. It’s a different style, but I personally prefer cream cheese frosting, especially since I really love my cream cheese frosting! I’ve included that recipe below for you too.

Perfect Red Velvet Cake Recipe FROM SCRATCH! Just the right hint of chocolate with a kick, it's everything you'd want from a classic Southern red velvet. Bakes perfectly as a layer cake or cupcakes with no modification. Recipe on GoodieGodmother.com

You will need to add red food coloring to dye the cake, and I’d recommend using a gel color instead of a liquid dye. You need MUCH less of the gel to get a good color in the cake. If you’d prefer a natural alternative, a little beet juice will give the cake a subtle red hue, but don’t add too much so the cake doesn’t have a beet flavor. A little is totally fine though, especially paired with chocolate.

I hope you enjoy this red velvet cake recipe as much as we do!

Perfect Red Velvet Cake Recipe FROM SCRATCH! Just the right hint of chocolate with a kick, it's everything you'd want from a classic Southern red velvet. Bakes perfectly as a layer cake or cupcakes with no modification. Recipe on GoodieGodmother.com

Be sure to check out the other cake recipes in my “Perfect Cake Recipe From Scratch” series – White Cake (a Pinterest favorite!), Yellow Cake, and Almond Cake.

Red Velvet Cake
 
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Author:
Serves: 1 8" 2 layer cake or 24 cupcakes
Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened (240 g)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar (400 g)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour (312 g)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (29.5 g)
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temp (237 mL)
  • 2 tbsp sour cream (30 g)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1½ tbsp white vinegar
  • red food coloring
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C, gas mark ¾), then butter and line two 8" round cake pans with parchment or place liners in cupcake pans for 2 dozen (24) cupcakes.
  2. In a measuring cup, combine the buttermilk and vinegar. Set aside.
  3. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fully, then add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl after each addition. Stir in the sour cream and vanilla extract.
  4. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa in a separate bowl.
  5. Add the half the flour mixture to the butter, then half buttermilk. Repeat, and stir all ingredients are just combined.
  6. Pour into your prepared cake pans or use a medium cookie scoop to place batter into your lined cupcake pans.
  7. Bake 18-24 minutes for cupcakes or 25-30 minutes for cake, until a tester inserted in the center of the cake (or a middle cupcake) comes out clean.
  8. Allow the cake to set 10 minutes in the pan before inverting onto a cooling rack to cool completely before decorating. You may also double wrap the slightly warm layers in plastic wrap and freeze for up to two months.

 
Cream Cheese Frosting
 
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Author:
Serves: about 6 cups
Ingredients
  • ½ lb unsalted butter, softened (225 g)
  • 1 lb cream cheese, softened (450 g)
  • 5-6 cups confectioner's (powdered) sugar (600-720 g)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Cream together the butter and cream cheese.
  2. Add the powdered sugar 1 cup (120 g) at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition. Once the desired consistency is reached, add the vanilla extract.
  3. Use immediately, or store up to 4 days in the refrigerator in an airtight container with plastic wrap pressed along the top surface of the icing. Re-whip before using.

 

Perfect Red Velvet Cake Recipe FROM SCRATCH! Just the right hint of chocolate with a kick, it's everything you'd want from a classic Southern red velvet. Bakes perfectly as a layer cake or cupcakes with no modification. Recipe on GoodieGodmother.com

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21 Comments on Red Velvet Cake

  1. Brenda
    January 29, 2016 at 4:17 pm (1 year ago)

    Can I use a 9in instead of an 8? And will the baking time differ?

    Reply
    • The Godmother
      February 7, 2016 at 1:44 pm (1 year ago)

      You can absolutely use a 9″ pan instead of an 8″ pan. Baking time won’t really change for such a small difference in pan size.

      Reply
  2. alice martinez
    January 27, 2016 at 6:54 pm (1 year ago)

    how maney drops red food coloring do we use?

    Reply
    • The Godmother
      January 29, 2016 at 12:48 pm (1 year ago)

      That depends on the brand you use, which is why I didn’t specify. If you use liquid coloring, you’ll need close to a tablespoon to get a rich red. A gel coloring will be anywhere between 1/2-1 tsp depending on the brand. My gel coloring has a dropper lid, and I think I use somewhere between 6-10, but I don’t really count. I add a little, stir, then add more if I need it.

      Reply
  3. Hillary
    January 25, 2016 at 9:36 pm (1 year ago)

    Looks absolutely perfect. Used to work at a bakery with the perfect red velvet cake and this looks so close to that!! Must make.

    Reply
    • The Godmother
      January 27, 2016 at 6:13 am (1 year ago)

      So exciting! I’m a little biased though haha

      Reply
  4. Jennifer
    January 21, 2016 at 6:42 am (1 year ago)

    This cake looks absolutely perfect! You say to use gel color to get that red color but I’ve never had good results with the gel… only the liquid give me the red color I’m looking for. With the gel it usually turns out a pink hue if even turns color at all because of the cocoa. Either way, this will have to be made into some cupcakes soon!

    Reply
    • The Godmother
      January 27, 2016 at 6:20 am (1 year ago)

      Really? I feel like with the liquid coloring I’m always dumping in a crazy amount of color to get a true red. My mantra is “use what works.” 😉 Enjoy!

      Reply
  5. Whitney
    January 20, 2016 at 11:02 pm (1 year ago)

    This cake really pops out at me, it’s so colorful! Totally agree with you about using gel coloring. The colors come out so much better and you can use way less. Love this cake!

    Reply
  6. Whitney @ That Square Plate
    January 20, 2016 at 9:26 pm (1 year ago)

    I LOVE a good red velvet cake and yours looks PERFECT like you say. Beautiful pictures and beautiful cake Mary!!

    Reply
    • The Godmother
      January 27, 2016 at 6:22 am (1 year ago)

      Thank you, red velvet is a personal favorite, so I wanted to get it right.

      Reply
  7. Byron Thomas
    January 20, 2016 at 8:40 am (1 year ago)

    Such a gorgeous cake, Mary! I love it. You’ve done a fantastic job capturing the beauty of red velvet. Can you tell that I’m a red velvet fan? LOL. This must have been a super moist cake with both sour cream and butter milk! YUM!

    Reply
    • The Godmother
      January 27, 2016 at 6:23 am (1 year ago)

      A dry red velvet cake is a travesty!

      Reply
  8. Jessica
    January 13, 2016 at 9:24 pm (1 year ago)

    oh my goodness! I am going to try this! I am personally not a red velvet fan but my husband and family members do too! Perfect!!

    Reply
    • The Godmother
      January 14, 2016 at 3:04 pm (1 year ago)

      You are so sweet baking for them! I know they’ll appreciate it. 🙂

      Reply
  9. Tara
    January 12, 2016 at 3:18 pm (1 year ago)

    I am not normally a fan of chocolate, but I adore a good “real” piece of red velvet cake! Perfect timing with this recipe, it will be perfect for Valentines Day!

    Reply

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