Andrea is a home baker who loves to perfect challenging cakes, breads, and the like. She is on a quest to find the perfect flavor combos.
A Red Velvet Cake Fit for a Queen
This red velvet cake recipe is pretty easy to follow, but it has some extra steps that will add more time. The cake is light and fluffy. The pudding makes it decadent.
You could make the cake sponges and skip the pudding and other toppings. Personally, I think the other steps make it one of the best red velvet cakes imaginable.
If you make the sponges without food coloring they will be a tan color.
I made this cake for my birthday. I baked it and added the pudding before dinner. I kept it in the fridge while my husband and I went out for sushi. Then I came back and did the frosting and toppings. (I mention all of this so that you have an idea of the timetable for this cake.)
On This Page
- Cook Time
- Timing Notes
- Photo Instructions
- Recipe Notes
|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
1 hour 50 min
2 hours 12 min
- Cake prep: 20-30 minutes (I'm somewhat of a slow baker, so it was closer to 30 minutes for me)
- Bake time: 22-25 minutes
- Rest time: 5 minutes
- Poking holes and adding pudding: 5 minutes
- Chill time: 1 hour
- Frosting and toppings: 10-15 minutes
For the cake:
- 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 teaspoons red food coloring
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
For the pudding:
- 1 box pudding mix
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For the cream cheese frosting:
- 1/8 cup butter
- 3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- chopped chocolate chips
- chocolate granola pieces
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Graciously grease up two 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray or butter.
- Cream together the butter and sugar. I advise mixing in a standing mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed.
- While the butter and sugar are mixing, work on the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- Add eggs one at a time into the butter mixture. Wait until the first egg has been completely combined with the butter and eggs. Add the vanilla extract. Stir for 7 minutes or until the mixture is light yellow and custard-like.
- In a small bowl, add red food coloring, vinegar, and buttermilk together. If you want your cake to have a darker red color, add more dye. (Add more in teaspoon increments.)
- Add cocoa powder to the butter mix.
- Add a 1/2 cup at a time of the dry ingredients and then red vinegar mixture into the butter mixture. Keep alternating between adding dry ingredients and the red vinegar mixture until you run out of both.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Spread it out even to the edges. Knock the pans on the counter three times each to knock out any big bubbles (small bubbles are fine). Bake for 22-25 minutes.
- Make the pudding according to the directions on the box while the sponges bake.
- After baking, test the sponge centers with a fork; the utensil should come out clean. Let the cakes rest for about 5 minutes in the pans. If they're not done, return them to the oven for 3-5 minutes.
- Place one sponge onto the dish where you'll store the cake. Poke the cake with a fork several times. If you want your pudding to drizzle down into the cake more, you'll want to make bigger holes into the sponge. You could use the opposite end of the fork or use a knife to cut into it. Don't get too wild making holes and cuts; you want your sponge to keep its general shape. Spread spoonfuls of pudding on top. The whole top should be covered. Now put the other sponge on top. Poke it with a fork. Add pudding on top. Lightly add more pudding to the sides.
- Let your cake chill in the fridge for about 1 hour. This will help the pudding to set. You could stop here and not add the frosting and toppings. Do wait for the pudding to set before adding to it.
- Mix the frosting in a processor. I would slowly add confectioner's sugar. A thicker frosting (not runny) will be easier to work with. Drop spoonfuls on the top of your cake. When adding frosting, try to cover up the pudding as much as possible. Once you've put all the frosting on the cake, gently spread it to cover the top. Be careful not to swirl and bring chocolate to the top. (I didn't cover the sides with frosting.)
- Slice the strawberries vertically into four pieces each. Align them around the top with the circular edge matching the curve of the sponge.
- Chop chocolate chips and sprinkle them in the center. Add small chocolate granola pieces as a finish. The granola will add a nice crunch.
- Chocolate granola: I used a Target brand that was dark chocolate with peppermint. Target has a decent selection of granola. The granola I used might have been out for Christmas. You don't need a whole lot. You're just going to sprinkle it on with the chopped chocolate chips to cover up more white space.
- Pan size and baking time: If you put the batter into different-sized pans, the timing will be different. Keep an eye on your cakes as they bake. If they look like they have a good rise, go ahead and test them. You can put a cake back in the oven if it isn't done, but if you overbake, there isn't a fix to it.
- Mixing technique: You might wonder why it is recommended to alternate ingredients and put in small amounts into the butter mixture. I learned this from chemistry. If you slow down how much flour you introduce to the sugar, it will make it easier for the ingredients to bond on a molecular level. If you add new ingredients too fast, it overwhelms things and doesn't quite fit as snugly. Slowing down how much you put into the butter mixture helps it to absorb the new ingredients.
If you don't have buttermilk handy, a substitution that works for this cake is 1 cup of milk with 3 teaspoons of lemon juice. (This is actually what I used for the cake when I did it for the pictures.)
Since you already are supposed to use vinegar in the recipe, I wouldn't use a substitution of milk and vinegar for the buttermilk.
Traditionally, red velvet cake was made with a French-style butter roux icing (ermine icing). It is very light and fluffy, but time-consuming to make. Some recipes skip the red food coloring and use beetroot.
What is the difference between red velvet cake and chocolate cake?
Besides the red food dye, the real difference comes from the vinegar and buttermilk. The acids react with the leavening agents, creating a fluffier cake. Red velvet is typically made with cream cheese frosting.
Why is it called a velvet cake?
In the 1800s, cake recipes would call for cocoa. The cakes were called "velvet" cakes and served at fancy events. The term "velvet" lets guests know the cake will have a smooth and soft texture.
What is the history of this cake?
The cake is well known in the United States. It is thought to have originated in Maryland around the turn of the 20th century. It is considered a Southern dessert. It is popular around Christmas and Valentine's Day.
© 2022 Andrea Lawrence