Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

This is a very special sort of cake.  Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.

I never knew about red velvet cake as a kid.  I know, it’s sad.  But I’ll blame it on growing up in the far north, I guess.  It took me almost 30 years until I got a fork into my first chocolatey piece.

And who do I have to thank for this introduction?   A southern mom, of course!  She mailed her son, a co-worker of mine, a beautiful double layer birthday cake.  And with much southern hospitality, he shared a piece with me.

I was instantly smitten.

This red velvet cake has since graced many a birthday celebration around here.  I especially enjoy baking it for Mom’s birthday (tomorrow!) at the end of November.  The joyful red hued cake is a welcoming prelude to the holiday season beginning to unfold.

This is also a striking cake served on Valentine’s Day.  Chocolate.  Red.  Cream cheese.  Enough said.

The first recipe I tried was one from Martha Stewart.  And I liked it so much that I haven’t needed to look any further.  But I did change the frosting.  Martha’s recipe features a seven-minute frosting, which I made the first time around.  And it was very good.  But I craved the cream cheese frosting from my very first bite of that southern mom’s cake.  So I whipped up some cream cheese frosting.  And this is the only way I make it now.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Mom and her dad


Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
(print recipe)

for the cake:
2-1/2 c. cake flour (not self-rising), plus more for dusting the pans
1 tsp. salt
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1-1/2 c. sugar
1-1/2 c. canola oil
2 large eggs
4 T. red food coloring
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. buttermilk
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. white vinegar

for the frosting:
16 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 c. butter, at room temperature
4 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°.  Generously butter two 9″ x 2″ round cake pans.  Dust with flour, and tap out the excess.  Set aside.  In a medium bowl, whisk together cake flour, salt, and cocoa.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat sugar and oil on medium speed until well combined.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add food coloring and vanilla, and beat until well combined.  Add the flour mixture, alternating with buttermilk, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.

In a small bowl, whisk together the baking soda and vinegar.  Add to the batter, and beat for 10 seconds.  Evenly divide batter between the prepared pans.

Place in oven and bake until a cake tester inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool in the pans for 5 minutes. Remove from the pans, and return to the rack, top side up, to cool completely.

Make the frosting by creaming together the cream cheese and butter on medium high speed for a minute or two, until well incorporated.  Beat in the powdered sugar until fluffy, then mix in the vanilla.

Using an offset spatula to frost the cake, spread 1-1/2 cups of the frosting on top of one of the cake layers.  Place second layer on top and spread the remaining frosting around the sides and top of the cake, swirling spatula as desired.

The cake can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator up to 6 hours, or over night.  I like to serve the cake with a slight chill to it, since I like the cream cheese frosting to be a bit cool, with a thicker feel in the mouth.  So I take the cake out of the fridge about 15 minutes prior to serving.

Red Velvet Cupcakes – Mom’s birthday, 2009

**If you want to make cupcakes, line two regular size muffin tins with paper liners.  Pour batter into liners.  For my muffin tins, this recipe made 22 cupcakes that I baked for 20 minutes.

Double layer cake servings:  10 to 12

Sources:  cake recipe adapted from Martha Stewart, in a special edition magazine called Holiday Baking (2002) – frosting recipe from a farmgirl’s dabbles


42 Responses to “Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting”

  1. #
    Mom — November 29, 2010 at 9:10 am

    Thank you Brenda! Love the cake, love the picture, and love you!!

  2. #
    Andrea @ Simple Organized Living — November 29, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    Look delicious — and those cupcakes are so adorable!! What size tip did you use to get those little blobs of frosting?

    • farmgirl replied on November 29th, 2010 at 7:54 pm

      Thanks, Andrea! I believe I used a round #12 Wilton tip.

  3. #
    Leslie B. — November 29, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    *drool*…I love, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! Red velvet cake! I ask for one every year for my birthday. It might have something to do with my birthday being around valentines day, or the bright red color, I don’t know. Ever dyed it blue? That is super fun too!

    • farmgirl replied on November 29th, 2010 at 7:55 pm

      Nope, I’ve never done blue! Thanks for stopping by, Leslie!

  4. #
    Paula — November 29, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    Happy Birthday to your Mom! You know I’ve never had a red velvet cake or cupcake…yet. Looks like I’m missing out on something wonderful and I really need to remedy that. This looks like a wonderful place to start :)

    • farmgirl replied on November 29th, 2010 at 7:56 pm

      Thanks, Paula. And, yes, you are missing out on something wonderful! I’ll send you a piece if you send me some of your beautiful cookies!!

  5. #
    Sara — November 29, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    LOVE red velvet!!! and your pics are nearly as delish as the dessert itself…and i love the great photograph of your mother and her daddy…what sweetness!

    • farmgirl replied on November 30th, 2010 at 9:15 pm

      Thanks Sara! That picture is one of my favorites.

  6. #
    naama — November 30, 2010 at 2:51 am

    Beautiful cake!

  7. #
    Amanda — November 30, 2010 at 6:45 am

    This is such a lovely cake… for such a wonderful birthday!! If your mom is anything like you (and I have a feeling you are similar! ;) ) then I already love her!


    • farmgirl replied on November 30th, 2010 at 9:17 pm

      Thanks for the sweetness, Amanda. :)

  8. #
    Crustabakes — November 30, 2010 at 9:57 am

    the red food colouring in red velvet has always kinda intimidated me. But these are so beautiful and delicious looking that i might have just overcome my fear for red food colouring!

    • farmgirl replied on November 30th, 2010 at 9:19 pm

      You mustn’t be intimidated! This is a most wonderful cake!

  9. #
    meenal — November 30, 2010 at 11:45 am

    hi.. unsual cake color for me.. will try out. Wot is cake flour? If i dont get that. can i use ordinary flour?

    • farmgirl replied on November 30th, 2010 at 9:26 pm

      Cake flour is a finer flour that produces less gluten. It gives a fine, soft, even crumb to cakes. I recommend using it when specified.

  10. #
    Stephanie Meyer (Fresh Tart) — November 30, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    Gorrrrgeous Brenda! I would be honored to receive such a beautiful cake – your mom will be (must have been) thrilled! Mmmmm, red velvet…

    • farmgirl replied on December 1st, 2010 at 9:14 am

      Hi Stephanie – thank you!

  11. #
    Alison Moore Smith — December 1, 2010 at 4:09 am

    Of course, anything chocolate is divine. But that cake is seriously beautiful.

  12. #
    Melissa H from So. Fla. — December 1, 2010 at 9:44 am

    I can not wait to try this. I love cream cheese frosting.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • farmgirl replied on December 2nd, 2010 at 12:47 pm

      Hello Melissa – thanks for visiting! Let me know how your Red Velvet Cake turns out!

  13. #

    I LOVE Red Velvet Cake. This sounds SO good. I’m bookmarking this to try during the Christmas season.

    • farmgirl replied on December 2nd, 2010 at 12:48 pm

      Yay! Please let me know what you think, Kim!

  14. #
    Peggy — December 1, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    your mom is so lucky! Hope she had a great birthday!

    • farmgirl replied on December 2nd, 2010 at 12:49 pm

      Thanks for visiting, Peggy!

  15. #
    Victoria — December 2, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    That cakes looks wonderful, and the cupcakes are lovely!

    • farmgirl replied on December 2nd, 2010 at 3:17 pm

      How lovely to meet you Victoria – you are fantastically creative. Beautiful stuff!! Thanks for stopping by!

  16. #
    Leann — December 6, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    This will be my dessert cake for Christmas. Yummo!!

    • farmgirl replied on December 6th, 2010 at 10:57 pm

      Yay!! :)

  17. #
    Laura H — December 7, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    I want to try to make this–it looks SUPER! :)

    • farmgirl replied on December 7th, 2010 at 10:56 pm

      Thanks so much Laura!

  18. #
    Caley — December 14, 2010 at 12:30 am

    Oh I’m so glad I found this! My grandma used to make this for my birthday growing up {I was lucky to have it as a kid}. I haven’t been able to find her’s for a while so I’m def going to be giving this a try! Thanks for sharing!

    • farmgirl replied on December 14th, 2010 at 9:27 am

      You were definitely a lucky kid!! Thanks so much for visiting, Caley.

  19. #
    Shirley — August 20, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    I have made this cake for over 40 years. It’s a family favorite! I first received the recipe in northern Indiana!

    • farmgirl replied on August 22nd, 2011 at 5:30 am

      Nice to hear from you, Shirley! The house seems to buzz when it knows there’s a Red Velvet Cake hanging out in the kitchen. Everyone looks forward to their first bite. :)

  20. #
    Isabel R. — April 30, 2012 at 10:14 am

    Funny – Same thing happened to me – looked for a red velvet recipe came accross Martha Stewarts recipe, loved it, stopped looking. I get a lot of people asking for this recipe. I use the cream cheese frosting recipe as well. Best Red Velvet Cake I’ve EVER tasted!!

  21. #
    fay — April 12, 2013 at 9:12 am

    my cream cheese frosting is too thin, i’ve followed the recipe correctly but i don’t understand whats going wrong. Any suggestions??

    • Brenda replied on April 15th, 2013 at 2:33 pm

      I am not quite sure what to suggest, Fay. I’ve made this cake, from this exact recipe, a number of times with no issues. The frosting is a softer set, but I’ve never had problems with it. I suppose you could try reducing the butter a bit.

  22. #
    LeeAnn — November 27, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    I’ve been looking for the perfect Red Velvet recipe and this one looks great. Can’t wait to try it!

    • Brenda replied on December 1st, 2013 at 6:29 pm

      Hi LeeAnn! I’d love to know what you think, please come back to let me know!


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