Serves a Crowd

Red Velvet Cake

May 26, 2011
3 Ratings
  • Prep time 3 hours
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 12
Author Notes

Cake recipe adapted from Deb Perelman's Smitten Kitchen, originally from “The Confetti Cakes Cookbook” by Elisa Strauss via the New York Times 2/14/07.
Yields 9-inch round 3 cake layers OR one 9x13 inch sheet cake and 12 cupcakes. —pickyin

What You'll Need
  • Cake
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (Dutch/natural)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups canola oil
  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 6 tablespoons red food coloring
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • Icing
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup confectioners/icing/powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/2 cups cold heavy whipping cream (double cream, 35-40% butterfat)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Grease a 9x13x1 inch baking sheet or jelly roll pan and line the bottom with parchment. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with cupcake liners. Whisk cake flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. (The baking soda is used in step 3).
  2. Place oil and sugar in bowl of an electric stand mixer and beat at medium speed until well-blended. Beat in eggs one at a time. With machine on low, very slowly add red food coloring. Take care, the batter may splash. Add in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches (starting and ending with the flour). Scrape down bowl and beat just long enough to combine.
  3. Place the baking soda in a small bowl, stir in vinegar and add immediately to batter with machine running. Beat for 10 seconds.
  4. Divide 2/3 of the batter onto the baking sheet and the rest into the muffin tin. Place in oven and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes each for the sheet cake and cupcakes. Let cool in pans for at least 20 minutes. Remove the sheet cake from the pan by flipping it over and peel off the parchment. Trim of the curved sides if necessary (doing this will yield an 8x12 inch sheet) and divide the cake along the longer side into three 8x4 inch portions. Cool completely cakes completely before frosting. (I froze the sheets for two hours before icing.)
  5. In the bowl of your electric stand mixer or with a hand mixer, at medium speed beat the cream cheese and mascarpone cheese until smooth. Add in the vanilla and icing sugar and beat until smooth. Using the whisk attachment, gradually add in the heavy cream and whip at increasing speed until the frosting is thick enough to spread. Be careful not to overwhip or you'll end up with mascarpone butter. If necessary, add more sugar or cream as needed to get the right consistency. Chill to thicken before using.
  6. To assemble the cake, remove the layers from the freezer and frost each layers with about 4 tablespoons of cream in between each layer. Spread a thin layer of frosting over the entire cake with a crumb coat and freeze uncovered for 45 minutes to an hour. Repeat with a second crumb coat if necessary before frosting the final coating. Decorate accordingly, I used some cocoa nibs on the sides and top of this cake. I find that refrigerating the frosted cake overnight keeps the frosting stable at room temperature for many hours when the cake was served the next day. Cakes keeps covered and chilled for up to 3 days.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Kim Gruenefeld
    Kim Gruenefeld
  • Janet @
    Janet @
  • Geraldine
  • gretchen.ulrich
  • shortnmorose

10 Reviews

Kim G. October 27, 2018
THERE IS AN ERROR IN THE RECIPE: Baking powder is listed in the wrong place in the ingredient list and not mentioned in the instructions. The Baking powder should be added into the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder).
Janet @. July 20, 2018
Finally! A red velvet cake that works at altitude. I live at 5000ft above sea level and this cake turned out wonderfully. I made 3 6-inch cakes (3-inch tall pans) with a little batter left over to make 3 cup cakes for me to test out. I used 3 tbsp on red food coloring and 1/3 cup cooked beet puree. Wahoo! I'm so thrilled. I have tried over a dozen red velvet cake recipes. I love that this recipe calls for more cocoa than most recipes. I'd love to try this cake using beet juice in place of red food dye.
Heidi February 23, 2015
Any suggestions for a substitute for the red food coloring? My son adores red velvet cake and wants one for his birthday and we don't use artificial food dye. Thanlk you!
Geraldine December 13, 2014
First layer cake I've ever made, and it was incredible. Got so many compliments from the hubby and his coworkers, I couldn't believe it! It was very simple just took some time to put together. I added the baking powder to the flour at the onset, since there was no mention of it elsewhere. I used 3 pans because I'm a novice and it seemed easier than tackling cutting the pieces. I chilled the frosting a few hours before icing the cake. I froze all 3 layers about an hour before assembling. Staked the cake with kebab skewers to hold all 3 layers in place while icing then froze it all another hour before decorating & serving. The result was perfect, but all those steps chilling and freezing the individual items made it all more manageable.
Laurelb July 25, 2013
Baking soda is in step three, cupcakes are referenced in the notes, crumb cakes are separate from cocoa nibs. I read the cocoa nibs as an option
gretchen.ulrich July 26, 2013
The item not mentioned in the steps is baking powder...not soda. These are different but thanks for your understanding of the recipe Laurelb. As an update, the recipe is fabulous. I did not use the powder. The taste of the red cake was exactly what I was looking for and we will be making again. I have made several red velvets and think this is my favorite recipe so far the mascarpone and cream combination is amazing and the cake was very moist and rich.
Laurelb July 26, 2013
You're right Gretchen. I couldn't get the mascarpone and cream to thicken so used it as a sauce instead.
gretchen.ulrich July 24, 2013
Midway through baking and this recipe appears to contain several errors 1) Ingredient list calls for 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder but the directions do not reference using baking powder. 2) What do you do with the muffins? Are they just to deal with the extra batter? 3) "what are the "crumb coats;" they appear different than the "cocoa nibs." The copy editing is horrible! Let's hope the cake turns out.
Laurelb March 12, 2013
I made this yesterday and well, it didn't turn out as I hoped. The icing was virtually liquid. I put it in the freezer but it didn't thicken up enough until too late. I cut the cake recipe in half, baked in 2 9 inch pans, and then split each layer in two. Next time I would use three pans or else cut the recipe to a 1/3.
shortnmorose May 15, 2012
This cake is the BEST red velvet cake I've had and my first cake to ever bake - directions were extremely easy to follow! Bought buttermilk from the Vons nearby but it was spoiled so subbed heavy cream and 2% milk. Then ran out of oil so used olive oil. But seriously the best cake ever - didn't even need more than 2 TB of food coloring - came out a nice brown red.