Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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This moist Red Velvet Cake is glorious and tender, with an amazing homemade cream cheese frosting. It’s garnished with a drizzle of chocolate and chopped pecans.

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

The first time I had red velvet cake was in college. Once I tasted it, I knew I had to create a recipe that would make a Southern grandma proud.

I’ve tested the recipe for many years. I have found an ingredient that complements the cocoa powder, sugar, and buttermilk, so well that the flavor of this red velvet cake will stand out from any other homemade red velvet cake you’ve ever had.

overhead shot of Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

History of Red Velvet Cake

Red velvet cake is a popular dessert that originated in the United States. There are many theories about the history of red velvet, but the most commonly accepted story is that the Adams Extract Company created red velvet cake in the late 1930s. The company was looking for a new way to promote its red food coloring and decided to create a red velvet cake recipe using the new food coloring.

Red velvet cake is made with cocoa powder, red food coloring, white vinegar, and buttermilk. The cake is traditionally topped with cream cheese frosting, but it can also be buttercream or any white frosting.

Fresh cocoa was raw when the cake was first made in the late 1800s, and when vinegar and buttermilk were added, it gave the cake a reddish hue. Beet juice was another red dye option.

Red velvet cakes are popular doing February and June, Black History Month, and Juneteenth, and it’s also seen heavily on Christmas dessert tables.

Key Ingredients

Before you start baking these red velvet cakes, look at this list of ingredients to make sure you have everything you need for some tasty red velvet cake recipe.

Flour

I like to use White Lily makes self-rising flour, and it’s so soft it gives a similar texture to cake flour.

Cocoa Powder

I love chocolate, so I used dark chocolate cocoa powder in this recipe, but regular unsweetened natural cocoa powder will do.

Coconut Oil

This is my secret ingredient. The sweet, subtle flavor of the coconut oil creates a floral not in each bite. Traditionally recipes call for vegetable oil.

White Vinegar

Baking is a science. Adding the vinegar helps the red velvet cake get its reddish hue and helps create a light and tender cake.

Red Food Coloring

You can use traditional red dye but if red dye 40 doesn’t agree with your body, use a plant-based red food coloring.

Buttermilk

A classic red velvet cake must have buttermilk.

Vanilla Extract

A little vanilla goes a long way.

Sugar

We need granulated sugar for the cake and powdered sugar for the cream cheese frosting.

Pecans

Red velvet cake is Southern, and pecans are a must for this cake.

Cream Cheese

Always use room-temperature cream cheese and stay away from low-fat cream cheese. If we eat cake, we’re going to eat good!

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

How to make Red velvet cake recipe?

Red velvet cake is straightforward to make, and you only need to choose what type of cake you will make. This recipe is for a two-layered cake, and it’s incredible!

Red Velvet Cake

Preheat oven to 300°F. In a medium bowl, mix self-rising flour and cocoa powder.

In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar until lemon colored, about 3 minutes, with a hand mixer or with the paddle attachment on a stand mixer. Add coconut oil, vinegar, red dye, and vanilla extract. Mix the flour mixture and buttermilk in the same bowl, alternating between the two, finishing with the flour.

Divide the cake batter evenly among (2) 9-inch cake pans and bake for 25-30 minutes until the cake begins to pull away from the edges or an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing the cake from the pan. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

In a large bowl, add cream cheese and mix on medium speed for 1 minute until smooth. Add powdered sugar, unsalted butter, milk, and mix until smooth.

Assemble

Add chocolate to a small bowl and cook for 30 seconds in the microwave; stir until smooth.

Add one tablespoon of icing to the bottom of a cake stand, add one cooled cake, spread ¼ icing evenly over the first cake layer, and repeat evenly over the top layer. Drizzle melted chocolate evenly over the cake and garnish with chopped pecans.

How to Make Homemade Self-Rising Flour?

To make your own self-rising flour, you’ll need the following for every 2 ½ cups of flour. 

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Blend all the ingredients and keep them in an airtight container in a cool dark place for 3 months.

Pro Recipe Tips & Tricks

Here are the best practices, techniques, substitutes, and flavor builders you’ll need for making this red velvet cake recipe.

  • Always make sure that your oven is heating to the correct temperature before baking. I keep my oven thermometer hanging from the center rack at all times.
  • You can use all-purpose flour or cake flour instead of self-rising flour. If you do, add 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Use gluten-free flour as a swap for all-purpose flour for a gluten-free cake.
  • Make sure that your eggs and cream cheese are at room temperature.
  • Feel free to use any milk you have at home in the cream cheese frosting.
  • You can use any oil, like vegetable oil, instead of coconut oil. I wouldn’t use extra virgin olive oil because it has a peppery aftertaste.
  • Use a liquid measuring cup to measure your liquids. A dry measuring cup won’t cut it.
  • Use an icing spatula for the easiest way to apply to frost.
  • Try adding almond extract instead of vanilla extract to your cake and frosting for a different flavor.
  • To decorate your cake, you can use a vegetable peeler to make chocolate shavings from a chocolate bar.
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FAQs

Here are the top questions readers have about red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting.

What makes traditional red velvet cake red?

The bright red color in red velvet cake is typically achieved with red food coloring.

Is red velvet cake just a chocolate cake?

No, red velvet cake is not just dyed chocolate cake. It’s a common thing that’s misspoken about red velvet cake, but there’s usually only 1-2 tablespoons of cocoa powder per cake which is dramatically less than any chocolate cake would call for.

What is a secret ingredient to moisten cakes?

Oil is a secret ingredient to moist cakes. It doesn’t contain water, so it has a higher moisture content than butter. Buttermilk, yogurt, or sour cream, adds moisture. Baking the cake at a lower temperature will prevent your cake from drying out.

Can you substitute vegetable oil for coconut oil?

Any cooking oil can replace coconut oil in your favorite recipes. I do my best to avoid vegetable oils like canola oil, vegetable oil, grapeseed oil, sunflower oil, or corn oil.

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

What is the difference between cream cheese frosting and cream cheese icing?

The difference between cream cheese frosting and cream cheese icing is that frosting is much thicker and thinner icing.

How can I make cream cheese frosting better?

You can improve the flavor of your frosting by using quality cream cheese like Philadelipha cream cheese and adding vanilla-flavored extract like vanilla or almond. Finally, add ¼ teaspoon of salt to wake up the flavor of your cream cheese frosting.

What is cream cheese frosting made of?

Cream cheese frosting is made of cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, milk, and melted butter.

How do you decorate a red velvet cake?

There are numerous ways you can decorate a red velvet cake. A simple version is to do a naked design. You divide the frosting evenly between the middle and top layers without covering the sides. Then you can drizzle chopped pecans over the top.

Overhead Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

What flavor compliments red velvet cake?

Cream cheese frosting is the perfect compliment to red velvet cake. The tangy flavor of the frosting pairs well with the cake’s sweetness, balancing out the flavors perfectly.

How to store red velvet cake?

Red Velvet cake is best 3 days after it’s made but will remain fresh, covered on the counter in a cool place for about 4 days. It can stay fresher longer by placing slices in an airtight container for 7 days in the fridge.

Wrap each slice of red velvet with plastic wrap, and keep the cake in a freezer storage bag for up to 3 months. Thaw for 1-2 hours before eating.

Reheat the cake in a 300°F oven for 5 minutes or pop it in the microwave for 10 seconds.

More Recipes

If you love cakes as much as I do, then I know you’ll love these southern recipes!

Latest Recipe Video:

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Before You Begin

Here are my steps for getting organized before I start anything.

Step 1: Preheat oven to 300°F before pulling the ingredients out. Get all ingredients for the red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting on the counter.

Step 2: Measure everything out into individual bowls.

Step 3: Follow the recipe and get ready for the best red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting you’ve ever had.

I hope you have a slice of red velvet cake! I promise you won’t regret it! And when you make it, leave a comment and star rating below.

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Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Kenneth Temple
This moist Red Velvet Cake is glorious and tender, with an amazing homemade cream cheese frosting. It’s garnished with a drizzle of chocolate and chopped pecans.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Cool 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Soul Food, Southern
Servings 15 persons
Calories 563 kcal

Ingredients
  

Red Velvet Cake:

  • 2 ½ cups self-rising flour
  • 1 tablespoon dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 oz. red dye
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 2 oz. melted unsweetened chocolate bar

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 4 oz. cream cheese room temperature
  • 1 lb. powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Instructions
 

Red Velvet Cake:

  • Preheat oven to 300°F. In a medium bowl, mix self-rising flour and cocoa powder.
  • Add chocolate to a small bowl and cook for 30 seconds in the microwave; stir until smooth.
  • Add one tablespoon of frosting to the bottom of a cake stand, add one cooled cake, spread it evenly over the first cake layer, and repeat evenly over the top layer. Drizzle melted chocolate evenly over the cake and garnish with chopped pecans.
  • In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar until lemon colored, about 3 minutes, with a hand mixer or with the paddle attachment on a stand mixer. Add coconut oil, vinegar, red dye, and vanilla extract. In the same bowl, mix the flour and buttermilk, alternating between the two, finishing with the flour.
  • Divide the batter evenly among (2) 9-inch cake pans and bake for 25-30 minutes until the cake begins to pull away from the edges or an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing the cake from the pan. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • In a large bowl, add cream cheese and mix on medium speed for 1 minute until smooth. Add powdered sugar, unsalted butter, milk, and mix until smooth.

Assemble:

  • Add one tablespoon of frosting to the bottom of a cake plate, add one cooled cake, spread ¼ frosting evenly over the cake, and repeat, spread the frosting evenly over the top layer. Drizzle melted chocolate evenly over the cake and garnish with chopped pecans.

Notes

Pro Recipe Tips & Tricks
Here are the best practices, techniques, substitutes, and flavor builders you’ll need for making this red velvet cake recipe.
  • Always make sure that your oven is heating to the correct temperature before baking. I keep my oven thermometer hanging from the center rack at all times.
  • You can use all-purpose flour or cake flour instead of self-rising flour. If you do, add 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Use gluten-free flour as a swap for all-purpose flour for a gluten-free cake.
  • Make sure that your eggs and cream cheese are at room temperature.
  • Feel free to use any milk you have at home in the cream cheese frosting.
  • You can use any oil, like vegetable oil, instead of coconut oil. I wouldn’t use extra virgin olive oil because it has a peppery aftertaste.
  • Use a liquid measuring cup to measure your liquids. A dry measuring cup won’t cut it.
  • Use an icing spatula for the easiest way to apply to frost.
  • Try adding almond extract instead of vanilla extract to your cake and frosting for a different flavor.
  • To decorate your cake, you can use a vegetable peeler to make chocolate shavings from a chocolate bar.
Storage: 
Red Velvet cake is best 3 days after it’s made but will remain fresh, covered on the counter in a cool place for about 4 days. It can stay fresher longer by placing slices in an airtight container for 7 days in the fridge.
Wrap each slice of red velvet with plastic wrap, and keep them in a freezer storage bag for up to 3 months. Thaw for 1-2 hours before eating.
Reheat the cake in a 300°F oven for 5 minutes or pop it in the microwave for 10 seconds.

Nutrition

Calories: 563kcalCarbohydrates: 69gProtein: 5gFat: 33gSaturated Fat: 23gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 37mgSodium: 52mgPotassium: 117mgFiber: 2gSugar: 51gVitamin A: 235IUVitamin C: 0.04mgCalcium: 43mgIron: 1mg
Keyword red velvet cake, red velvet with cream cheese frosting, cream cheese frosting, red velvet cake recipe, red velvet
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