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Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

a slice of red velvet cake taken out of a whole cake

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
Mom and her dad
red velvet cupcakes
Red Velvet Cupcakes – Mom’s birthday, 2009
a slice of red velvet cake taken out of a whole cake

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

prep time: 25 minutes
cook time: 30 minutes
total time: 55 minutes
This Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is two rich layers of spongy deliciousness. You can make this chocolatey cake and sweet cream cheese combination for any occasion, but can you imagine a better dessert on Valentine's Day?
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  • 2-1/2 c. cake flour not self-rising, plus more for dusting the pans
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¼ 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
  • 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 the 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 the 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 for up to 6 hours, or overnight. 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.


**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.
Cake recipe adapted from Martha Stewart, in a special edition magazine called Holiday Baking (2002) – frosting recipe from a farmgirl’s dabbles

Nutrition Information:

Serving: 1 Calories: 984kcal Carbohydrates: 94g Protein: 6g Fat: 66g Saturated Fat: 20g Polyunsaturated Fat: 43g Trans Fat: 1g Cholesterol: 111mg Sodium: 696mg Fiber: 1g Sugar: 74g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Spoonacular. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.
Did you make this recipe?Please leave a comment below. And share a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #afarmgirlsdabbles or tag @farmgirlsdabble!
a whole, frosted red velvet cake

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41 comments on “Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting”

  1. 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!!

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

    1. 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. :)

  3. 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!

  4. Kim @ Quit Eating Out {Recipes to Make Dining Out A Choice, Not A Chore}

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

  5. Stephanie Meyer (Fresh Tart)

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

    1. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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!


  8. 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!

  9. 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 :)

    1. 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!!

  10. *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!

  11. Andrea @ Simple Organized Living

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