Red velvet cake

Combine the traditional and the exotic to great effect in this glorious American cake
Red velvet cake
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 8-10
  • Cook Time: plus cooling time
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Effort: easy


For the cake:

  • 175 g unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
  • 450 g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 38 ml Dr Oetker natural red food colouring, or 1 heaped tsp Sugarflair red extra colouring
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 500 g plain flour
  • 340 ml buttermilk
  • 1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1½ tsp cider vinegar

For the frosting:

  • 125 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 175 g cream cheese
  • 500 g icing sugar

Tips and Suggestions

The cake will keep in an airtight container for around 4 days.

Its really important to use the right red food colouring: either Sugarflair Red Extra paste or Dr Oetker Natural Red. Dont get the standard red colouring, as the cake will turn brown when you bake it.


1. For the cake: Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and grease and line 2x20cm cake tins.

2. Beat the butter for a minute or so, until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl to ensure all the ingredients are combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time then beat in the cocoa, food colouring and vanilla extract.

3. Sift the flour and 1 teaspoon of salt into a bowl, then add to the butter mixture in three stages, alternating with the buttermilk and scraping down after each addition. Put the bicarbonate of soda and cider vinegar in a small bowl and whisk until it bubbles up. Add this to the cake batter and give it one last quick beat. The addition of the vinegar and bicarbonate will make the colour of the cake develop and stay red when cooked. Spoon the mixture into the tins and level the top of the batter.

4. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. After 30 minutes, cover the top of the cake with foil to prevent it from browning too much. Test the cake after 45 minutes; when it is cooked,
a knife or skewer inserted in the centre will come out clean. Remove the foil and leave to cool on a wire rack for around 30 minutes. Remove from the tin and leave until completely cool before decorating.

5. For the frosting: Beat the butter until softened, then add the soft cheese and beat for a few seconds to combine. Scrape down the bowl to make sure everything is mixed, then add the icing sugar and beat again. The longer you beat, the creamier the icing will be. Set aside at room temperature until youre ready to use it. If its a warm day, put it in the fridge but take it out 10 minutes before you want to use it.

6. To decorate the cakes, you first need to level them. Use a bread knife to slice a small section off the top and make it as flat as possible. Keep the sliced-off section to decorate the cake later.

7. Next you have to cut each cake in half horizontally; again, use a bread knife. Now you have four layers of cake. Put the bottom layer of cake on your cake plate. Spread with the icing, making sure its not too thick; about 1cm is perfect. Repeat with all the layers.

8. Next, cover the outside of the cake with icing using a palette knife or a butter knife. Finally, crumble the reserved sliced-off sections of cake, and scatter the crumbs all over the top of it.

Stacie Bakes by Stacie Stewart is published by Pavilion. Recipe photography by Dan Jones.

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