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Easy Red Velvet Cake Recipe From Scratch

If you’re looking for the best ever red velvet cake recipe, look no further: what you’re about to reading is the easy red velvet cake recipe from scratch you can prepare at home anytime, and of course for Valentine’s Day.

To be totally honest with you, this is not a quick and simple recipe, but it is a recipe that, once prepared, becomes a classic and you won’t stop baking it.

Most of its charming is given by the colors: the red is mixed with the white, and this give the cake a magnificent look, especially if you decide to prepare it by using different layers.

What makes the red velvet cake red?

The red color of this cake comes from the chemical combination of different agents that, by joining, determine the color; to accentuate the red color you can use food dyes without chemical agents or, as I do, beet extract or strawberry juice.

The secret of a good and soft original American Red Velvet Cake is the processing of ingredients that should not be mixed too much otherwise in cooking they will tend to dry out.

Red velvet cream cheese frosting

The frosting is one of the most important things for this cake: I use a classic red velvet cream cheese frosting but you can also go for a classic American butter cream or totally change the frosting, by using mascarpone cream (mascarpone + cream), whipped cream or even custard cream. It goes without saying that the original version is made with cream cheese frosting that give the cake its traditional acidic taste.

What can I use instead of buttermilk?
Buttermilk is essential to the success of this recipe but you can replace it with a homemade substitute for buttermilk. Just put lemon drops in some milk, let it rest for a few minutes and then use it for your cake.

What’s the difference with a chocolate cake?

Some people think that the red velvet cake is just a red chocolate cake but in reality the two cakes are totally different. The Red Velvet is made by mixing vinegar, cocoa powder and buttermilk while the chocolate cake doesn’t require all of these ingredients. Also, the red velvet is filled with cream cheese frosting while the traditional chocolate cake is filled with a chocolate ganache.

How to get perfect layers

To get three equal layers you can follow the classic method that consists of using a higher pan and from this obtain three bases or put the dough into 3 baking pan of the same size, so as to churn and just stuff them stacking one on top of the other. If you choose this second method, I recommend the Wilton kit that allows you to create cakes up to 4 layers.

Let’s now move to the best ever red velvet cake recipe, my very easy red velvet cake recipe from scratch.

Ingredients for a 3 layers Red Velvet Cake [21 cm/ 8 inches]

    For the layers

    • 350 grams of flour (1.5 cups)
    • 200 grams of sugar (1 cup)
    • 150 grams of butter (2/3 cup)
    • 3 large eggs
    • 5 tablespoons of natural red coloring (or in my case beetroot extract)
    • 250 grams of buttermilk (1 cup/9 ounces)
    • 1 teaspoon of apple vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon of white vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
    • 15 grams of bitter cocoa (1/8 cup)
    • 1 small spoonful of salt

    For the cream cheese frosting

    • 450 grams full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature (2 cups)
    • 100 grams slightly salted butter, softened to room temperature (1/2 cup)
    • 480 grams icing sugar (3.2 cups)
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


    1. Sift flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl. In another bowl mix butter and sugar until a frothy mixture is obtained;
    2. Add the eggs one at a time, continuing to mix, then add the buttermilk and the food coloring or the beetroot extract;
    3. Combine the two mixes, stirring everything from bottom to top so that the buttery mixture won't lose its foaminess;
    4. Pour the baking soda into a glass bowl, add the white and the apple vinegar and beat well then add quickly to the mixture, stirring constantly to mix;
    5. Bake for 40 minutes in an oven already hot, inside a buttered pan, and cook at 170°C. Remove from the oven and cool.
    6. Prepare the frosting by whisking all the ingredients together;
    7. Once the cake has cooled completely cut it horizontally into three parts and fill with the cream between one layer and another without overdoing. With the remaining cream cover the outside of the cake leveling with a spatula.
    8. Put to rest at room temperature then keep refrigerated for at least 15 minutes before serving.


    Preparation time: 3 hours

    Cooking time: 1 hour

    Total time: 4 hours

    Tips on How to Achieve the Best Red Velvet Cake

    • Following the above doses you will get a cake of 18 cm in diameter if using the method of the three baking sheets or 21-22 cm using a single baking sheet and then cutting the cake once cooked;
    • Do not overmix: the key to get a perfect Red Velvet Cake is give all the ingredients air so that they will raise while cooking;
    • If you bake layers of different sizes, you can decide their size once cooked by using a knife to get the desired shape/size. You can crumble the remaining cake on top of the cake;
    • The layers of the cake must be cold before being filled with the cream. If you try to fill the cake when the layers are still hot, they will collapse;
    • Once ready, place the cake in the fridge and remember to remove it at least 15 minutes before serving it so that it is not too cold;
    • Do not leave the cake out of the refrigerator for a long time or the cream will soften too much and may become sour;
    • Use the remaining cooked mix to cover the surface of the cake, by crumbling it. You will get an original yet more beautiful Red Velvet;
    • Once prepared, the original Red Velvet keeps well for 3 days in the refrigerator, taking care to cover it to prevent the cheese from assimilating the odors of the other products.

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    About the author
    Veruska Anconitano
    Veruska works as SEO Manager and Localization Project Manager She's an accredited journalist, a member of the British Guild of Travel Writer, and a certified sommelier. She's the co-owner of TheFoodellers and a bunch of other websites.
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