Red Velvet Cake Recipe

Red Velvet Cake 

2 ¼ cups sifted cake flour (sifted first, then measured—not self rising)

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup buttermilk, well shaken

1 tablespoon red food coloring

1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 ½ cups sugar

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened preferably by leaving on counter overnight

2 large eggs


2 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened preferably by leaving on counter overnight

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened preferably by leaving on counter overnight

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 ½ cups powdered sugar

½ cup melted and cooled white chocolate


2 cups pecans, toasted and ground (see note below)

1 teaspoon nutmeg


For Cake:

Preheat oven to 350F.  Butter (or spray with non stick cooking spray) two nine-inch cake pans.  Cut parchment paper to fit into bottoms of both. Position parchment on bottoms of pans.  Either butter the parchment or spray with non stick cooking spray.  Dust each pan with one tablespoon of cocoa powder and set aside.

Sift sifted flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cayenne and salt into a bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk the buttermilk, food coloring, vinegar and vanilla.

In stand mixer bowl, cream the butter and sugar until well blended.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in dry ingredients in 4 additions alternatively with the wet ingredients in 3 additions.  End with the dry ingredients. 

Divide batter between pans.

Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes until cake tester comes out clean.  Cool cakes in pans for 10 minutes. Turn cakes onto greased wire racks.  Remove parchment. Cool completely.

For Frosting:

Beat butter and cream cheese well using electric mixer.  Add vanilla and powdered sugar and beat until smooth.  Stir in melted white chocolate.

Place one cake layer on serving platter, flat side up.  Spread one cut of frosting on cake and top with second layer.  Frost top and sides of cake.  Refrigerate. 

For Garnish:

Toast pecans in a 350 degree oven until fragrant, about 10 minutes.  Let cool and crush in the bowl of a food processor until finely chopped. Toss with nutmeg.  Garnish top and sides of cake with nuts. 


Softening butter and cream cheese: Preferably, this should be done overnight on your counter.  If you simply do not have the time, I would suggest softening in the microwave on the lowest power setting 30 seconds at a time until a soft consistency is achieved. The butter and cheese MUST be softened for the frosting because of the propensity of the butter and cheese to form unattractive, little lumps. 

Toasting pecans: Preheat the oven to 350F.  Place the pecans on a sheet pan and place in the oven and do not walk away for 10 minutes.  The pecans have the propensity to burn in an unattended oven.  As soon as you begin to smell them, they are done. 

White chocolate:  By adding the melted and cooled white chocolate to the frosting, you pump up the butterfat content (cocoa butter) without actually adding butter.  In addition to the subtle flavor of the white chocolate, the frosting will firm up in the refrigerator.  Melt the white chocolate on low power in the microwave.  Cool until warm to the touch.

Cake flour: Do not purchase a self rising cake flour.  The cake flour that is referenced is in a box and is labeled cake flour (Swan’s, for instance is a brand name).

Red Velvet

I’m such a tease.  For my February column ( I will be writing a piece on Red Velvet Cake and its effect on me. When I say effect I mean the near obsession I had with this cake last summer. From what I considered a rather bland cake vis a vis flavor, with just a few additions, it was truly transformed.  Read on:

The color red has long been associated with the holiday celebrated on the 14th of this month–Valentine’s Day.  Red abounds everywhere….red roses, red candy boxes and this month’s recipe, a mouth watering Red Velvet Cake.


“This is like the best thing I have ever tasted,” said my friend Lisa Capruso at a casual gathering this fall.  She was referring to the Red Velvet Cake which thinking back, never appealed to me as a having that kind of potential. “What could be this cake’s draw?”, I thought.  Basically a buttermilk cake with a small addition of cocoa powder, I was certain that the subtle flavorings would render this Southern favorite, well basically, flavorless. Boy was I wrong. 


The irony is that in this butter based red cake, it’s the subtle flavor of every ingredient, including the icing which, when tasted, tantalize the taste buds for more! I enhance the flavor of the cocoa powder by adding a hint of cinnamon and cayenne. After icing and garnishing with crushed pecans and if you like, chocolate curls, the cake is ready. 


History? Well, legend has it that prior to the introduction of the more alkaline Dutch processed cocoa, the interaction between earlier cocoa powders and the sometimes addition of vinegar would turn the brown cocoa powder into a red tinged color (read: Red Velvet).  Mashed beets also served to enhance the color of this cake when foods were being rationed in the WWII era. 


The blueprint for this recipe came from Bon Appetit years ago.  I of course made a few modifications because no recipe gets past me that can’t be made even better!


For Valentine’s Day or any day beyond that, it’s sure to have anyone who tastes it come back for more!  But to get the recipe…come back on Feb 1st!