This red velvet cake recipe will become your go-to recipe, and I promise you that. I have tried many recipes before. Most of them were dry, others don’t have much flavor, and some must be soaked in simple syrup, but today you will get to bake the best red velvet cake ever.
You will get a cake that stays moist for days, has a fantastic flavor, and tastes even better the next day. This cake also has the perfect balance between vanilla and cocoa, melts in your mouth, and learning how to make a delicious dreamy creamy smooth cream cheese frosting, plus many tips to make this cake a hit every time you bake it, then please keep on reading!
Red Velvet Cake Recipe
For years I underestimated this cake. I looked at the ingredients and found a small amount of cocoa, vinegar, buttermilk, and food coloring. I couldn’t find anything that makes it unique. Like many, my preference was chocolate cakes, fruit cakes, and pound cakes.
My trip to the USA made me look at this cake from a different perspective. The first red velvet cake I tried was delicious but crumbly and dry. When I went to a coffee shop and saw this beautifully decorated red velvet cake, I ordered a slice, and although it tasted good, I knew that it was soaked with simple syrup with a tangy after taste. I wasn’t sure if it’s the cake or lemon juice was in the simple syrup.
Searching the internet for the perfect recipe, I also came across many who complained about the cake not coming outright; it’s either dry, doesn’t rise, or taste blunt. I knew this cake is a challenge!
Being the foodie, I am, I had to go to the kitchen and develop a red velvet cake recipe that is moist and delicious. After having my fair share of failed red velvet cakes, I finally came up with the perfect recipe.
What are the changes I made to the red velvet cake recipe?
Omit the white vinegar. A long time ago, when it was either difficult or expensive to get eggs, many turned to vinegar to replace eggs. Baking soda and vinegar combined help the cake rise. So, I went ahead and omitted the vinegar because I have eggs, so why use it, I thought!
Omit buttermilk. I have replaced it with sour cream since it is rich, makes any cake moist, has a less tangy flavor, but reacts the same with baking soda as buttermilk.
Added oil. There is butter in this recipe, but I had to add oil to help the red velvet cake stays moist for a longer time.
Cornstarch is another addition that gave this cake tender crumbs and a light texture. You can use cake flour instead but believe me, using all purpose-flour plus cornstarch makes a lot of difference.
Tips and tricks to making the best red velvet cake
Have the ingredients at room temperature to avoid big air pockets in the cake. The ingredients come together quickly, and the batter bakes evenly when the ingredients are at room temperature.
Don’t melt the butter. It should be soft as in, and you can leave an imprint when you press the butter down gently with your finger. We will beat the butter with oil first for a few minutes, and beating a soft, not melted butter will add more air to the batter, and that’s what we want.
Don’t skip sifting the dry ingredients. You should sift the dry ingredients twice, even better if you do it thrice. It makes a huge difference because you mix dry ingredients with different textures; when the all-purpose flour is heavy, the cocoa powder and cornstarch are much lighter and blend well with the flour.
To bring cold eggs to room temperature, place them in a bowl full of warm water for 5 to 7 minutes.
Check the expiry date of the baking powder and baking soda.
When adding and mixing the food color, keep the bowl away from you, or you might stain your cloth. (This is from personal experience) 😊
Suppose you want to use gel food coloring, then use two teaspoons. Gel food coloring is more concentrated than liquid.
Make sure the oven is preheated. Ovens take 20 minutes to reach the desired temperature.
Use natural unsweetened cocoa powder instead of Dutch cocoa powder. The natural cocoa powder will react with baking soda to help the cake rise, while the Dutch-process cocoa won’t.
Don’t use bleached all-purpose flour.
The recipe calls for 4 large eggs, around 224 gm; if what you have are small or medium eggs, make sure you stick with the weight measurement.
Do not open the oven door until 20 minutes have passed from the baking time. All the ingredients in this recipe work together to do two things. 1- To make the cake rise gently 2- Create tender, soft crumbs. There is a fair amount of fat from the butter, oil, and sour cream, plus other ingredients that combined are working on raising the cake, like baking powder, baking soda, and eggs. You don’t want to disturb this process by introducing cold air to the batter by opening the oven door early.
Use measuring cups and spoons. More flour will result in dry cake, extra butter or oil will give you an oily cake. On a lighter note, I knew a woman who uses regular cups and spoons to make a chocolate cake, and it was so delicious I used to ask for it often when I was a kid, now I wonder how did she manage to make that cake while not having proper measuring cups and spoons!
It is best to use a serrated knife to cut the cake layers.
What do you need to make the perfect red velvet cake?
- All-purpose flour.
- Unsalted butter.
- Liquid food coloring.
- Large eggs.
- Sour cream.
- Baking powder and baking soda.
- Natural unsweetened cocoa powder.
What is a red velvet cake?
The original recipe has no food coloring, not even beetroot juice. It looked like a chocolate cake with less chocolate, so basically, it was a chocolate cake! Then came the addition of beetroot juice, and with time came the artificial food coloring for a brighter and intense red color.
But my red velvet cake is a blend of three amazing cakes, butter cake, chocolate cake, and vanilla cake. These three flavors come together beautifully, and you can taste it in every bite you take.
This cake is heaven because:
- It has tender crumbs, thanks to the sour cream. Butter enhances the cake’s flavor, but it doesn’t help keep it moist; so, I’ve added another fat to this recipe. The oil will keep the cake moist even after refrigeration.
- Delicious buttery flavor.
- The superb texture allows it to store well in the freezer and cool over the counter. (Storing will be covered in the section below).
- Tastes incredible with fluffy cream cheese frosting.
- The batter can make cupcakes. (How to make red velvet cupcakes below).
How to make a moist red velvet cake?
- Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder, and cornstarch two to three times. Baking powder and cocoa powder are known to have small lumps. They won’t dissolve entirely while baking; besides, you need dry ingredients to blend properly so you won’t spend time mixing later after adding the wet ingredients, which will result in a chewy cake.
- Mix the milk with sour cream and food coloring and keep it aside.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter with oil for three minutes, then add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time and beat until the mixture is lighter in color, which may take 3 to 4 minutes. Add in the vanilla and beat for a minute. You can use a standing mixer using a paddle attachment, but be sure not to overmix the batter.
- Pour the milk and sour cream mixture into the previous butter mixture and beat for one minute.
- Gradually add the flour mixture and mix gently for not more than 7 seconds. Don't forget to scrape the sides of the bowl.
- Pour an equal amount of the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake for 27 minutes. Depending on your oven, the baking time can be longer, so check the cake after baking for 25 minutes.
- The cake is ready when you insert a skewer in the middle of the cake, and it comes out clean.
- Place the cake while still in the pan on a cooling rack; after 9 minutes, remove the cake from the pan and place it over the cooling rack to cool completely.
Making soft red velvet cupcakes
- Follow the steps for making the batter—line two cupcake pans with cupcake liners.
- Fill ¾ the cupcake liners with the batter. Using an ice cream scoop will make this step easier and faster.
- Bake the cupcakes in a preheated oven for 15 to 17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the red velvet cupcake comes out clean.
- Remove the cupcakes from the pan immediately (don’t burn your hands) and place it on the cooling rack.
Tips on making a fluffy cream cheese frosting
This cream cheese frosting recipe is amazingly delicious, it is creamy, light, and the sweetness is just right. Keep the following tips in mind:
- The butter should be soft but not melting. You can press it with your finger gently and leave an imprint.
- Cold cream cheese makes good cream cheese frosting. Cut the cream cheese into medium size cubes.
- Sift the confectioner’s sugar to get a smooth frosting.
How to make cream cheese frosting:
- In a bowl, beat the butter until light in color, around 4 minutes.
- Add the sifted confectioner’s sugar and beat until combined, which will take 3 to 4 minutes on medium speed if using a hand mixer.
- To the previous mixture, add the cold cream cheese and beat for 3 minutes. When the 3 minutes are up, beat for one more minute on high speed.
- The cream cheese frosting should be silky smooth but firm enough to frost the cake or the cupcakes.
How to store red velvet cake and cupcakes?
It is better to freeze the cake than to refrigerate it. The fridge dries the cake, but if you have to, then please follow the steps mentioned below:
Unfrosted cake and cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container at the kitchen counter at a cold temperature for two days.
Frosted cake and cupcakes can be left at a cool place for up to 4 hours.
To refrigerate unfrosted cakes and cupcakes, wrap them with plastic wrap, place them in a Ziploc bag or plastic container, and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
To refrigerate frosted cakes and cupcakes, place them in the fridge for 15 minutes; this will allow the frosting to firm. Wrap them with plastic wrap, place them in a Ziploc bag, and refrigerate them for up to 3 days.
You can freeze frosted and unfrosted cakes and cupcakes by wrapping them with plastic wrap and then placing them in a Ziploc bag. Freeze for up to 2 months. To thaw the frosted and unfrosted cake, put them in the fridge overnight while still wrapped. Place them later on a kitchen counter for a few minutes and then serve.
If you don’t have a Ziplock bag or a container big enough for your cake, then wrap the cake twice with wax or parchment paper, then cover with aluminum foil making sure the wrap is tight then freeze.
How to store cream cheese frosting?
If you plan to frost the cakes the next day, then place the cream cheese frosting in a plastic container and refrigerate. It can stay in the fridge for up to 3 days. To use refrigerated frosting, put it on the kitchen counter for a few minutes and then give it a quick whisk/beat and use it to frost the cake.
The cream cheese frosting freezes well. Put the cream cheese frosting in an airtight container and place it in the freezer for up to 3 months. To thaw the frozen frosting, place it in the fridge overnight or for 7 hours. Beat it for a few seconds until smooth, and use it to frost your cake.
How to keep red velvet cake and other cakes moist for decorating and frosting at a later time?
I’m not crazy about adding simple syrup on cakes, but it is handy if you are frosting more than one cake and need to keep them refrigerated until you sell them or take them to an event. Hence, I will teach you how to use simple syrup on cakes.
I will share two recipes for simple syrup; the first one you can perfume with lemon, vanilla, or other flavors you prefer; the second recipe is simple chocolate syrup. It’s suitable for black forest cakes or any butter-based chocolate cake.
The base of simple syrup is sugar and water. And then, you add your favorite flavors. After making the simple syrup and while it is at room temperature, use around 4 tablespoons of simple syrup on an 8” cake and then start the frosting process. You can distribute the simple syrup using a spoon, a brush, but there are chances that some of the brush hair might come off and get stuck on your cake, so be alert, but the best is using a simple syrup bottle.
Simple Syrup with Vanilla
1 cup of water
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup fine sugar
In a small pan, add the water and sugar, mix well until the sugar dissolves.
Let the mixture come to a boil and immediately remove from heat and then add the vanilla and mix.
Allow the syrup to come to room temperature and then use it on the cake.
Chocolate Simple Syrup
1 cup water
1 cup fine sugar
1 ½ tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
In a saucepan, mix the water and sugar until the sugar dissolves.
Let the mixture come to a boil, then add the cocoa powder. Mix well and allow the mixture to come to a boil again.
Remove the syrup from heat; let it come to room temperature and use it on your cake.
How to store simple syrup?
Place the syrup in a glass jar with a tight lid. Refrigerate it for up to 2 weeks.
If you add lemon or orange zest to the simple syrup, it won’t keep for long; discard the syrup within 3 days.
Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
FOR THE CAKE
- 2 ½ cup + 2 tablespoon all purpose-flour
- ½ cup + 2 tablespoon corn starch
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoon red food coloring
- 4 large eggs
- ¾ cup milk
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 ½ cup white sugar
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ½ cup + 2 tablespoon softened butter
FOR THE FROSTING
- ½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2 cup sifted confectioners sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ cup cream cheese
FOR MAKING THE CAKE BATTER
- Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Grease and line two 8” baking pan with parchment paper.
- Mix milk with sour cream and food coloring, Keep aside.
- Sift twice or thrice the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt. Keep aside.
- In a bowl, beat the butter for three minutes, then add the oil and beat for two more minutes until well combined and lighter in color. Add the sugar and beat until creamy, now add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla, beat well for three to four minutes.
- Add the milk and sour cream mixture to the previous mixture and beat for a minute. Gradually add the dry ingredients and mix gently for a few seconds using a whisk or a hand mixer on low speed (not more than 7 seconds.)
- Pour the batter in the previously prepared pans and bake for 27 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. (When you test if the cake is baked, the toothpick might come out red, that’s normal. If the toothpick doesn’t have a batter on it, the cake is ready.)
- Place the cake while in the pan over a cooling rack for 9 minutes. Remove cake from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
MAKING THE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- Beat the butter until light and creamy.
- Add the confectioner's sugar and vanilla. Beat for 3 minutes on medium-high.
- Now add the cream cheese and beat for 3 minutes on medium-high, then beat for one minute on high.
- The frosting is creamy, but you should be able to frost and decorate the cake.