Recipe - My Fail-Proof Red Velvet Cake

Cake cream cheese frosting Red Velvet

[[ recipeID=recipe-9l2lwimf7, title=My Fail-Proof Red Velvet Cake ]]

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  • nikki on

    Is the oven meant to be at 180 of 180 fab – should I reduce the temperature for a fan oven?

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My Fail-Proof Red Velvet Cake

A layered red velvet sponge (slathered in lots of frosting, ideally cream cheese) is the ultimate celebration cake. It's stunning, and delicious, and comes with a real sense of accomplishment (when it goes right!).

My red velvet cake and cream cheese frosting recipe was tweaked over many years, and makes an appearance at most extra-special events.

>>But, before you start, click here to read my 5 red velvet cake top tips! 

Servings: 16 Slices

Keywords: Cream Cheese, Red Velvet Cake, Frosting, Cake, Sponge Cake, Birthday Cake

  • Prep Time: 1 hours 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 45 mins
  • Total Time: 2 hours 15 mins




Red Velvet Sponge

  • 280 g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 large eggs (free range)
  • 230 ml sunflour oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla paste (Nielsen Massey or similar)
  • 400 g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 225 ml buttermilk
  • 12 g red food colouring (gel)

Cream Cheese Icing

  • 480 g full-fat Philadelphia cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 120 g butter, melted and cooled
  • 500 g icing sugar, sieved
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste (Nielsen Massey or similar)


Red Velvet Sponge

  1. Grease 2 round 9 inch tins and pre-heat your oven to 180°C if it's a conventional oven, or 170°C for a fan oven.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder).
  3. Whisk together the sugar and vegetable oil in a large bowl.
  4. Whisk in the buttermilk, followed by the eggs (one at a time) and vanilla.
  5. Add in the food colouring, a very small amount at a time, so you can judge when the colour is right. When you add in the dry ingredients, the cocoa powder will lend depth and darkness to the red.
  6. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a spatula or wooden spoon, a little bit at a time, until just combined.
  7. Pour half of the batter into each of the two cake tins.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it – don’t dry it out, take it out as soon as it is cooked.
  9. Leave the cakes in the tins to cool for 15-30 minutes, and then move them onto a wire rack to finish cooling – they will be very fragile while warm, be gentle!

Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Make a start on your cream cheese frosting: drain the water from the cream cheese packet, and place the cheese in the middle of a clean tea towel or muslin cloth. Gather up the tea towel and wring, so that the cheese is in a tight ball. We're trying to remove as much moisture as possible from the cheese, so that the final icing is stiff enough to hold (and be piped, should you want to pipe it) - cream cheese has a tendency to get too liquid, which makes the cake look less neat.
  2. Hold it over a bowl or the sink (I like using a bowl so that I can see how much liquid has come out ) and apply pressure – the tea towel will get wet, and liquid will start dripping off.
  3. Heat the butter until just melted, and leave to cool until it’s just become solid again. The butter and cheese will have a similar consistency, which prevents lumps in the frosting.
  4. Whisk the butter and cheese together vigorously, until creamy and homogeneous. Whisk in the vanilla paste.
  5. When you’ve sieved the icing sugar (this is crucial, icing sugar ALWAYS has lumps), use a wooden spoon to mix it into the butter and cheese mixture – 100g at a time.
  6. Your cream cheese frosting will go through a gloopy stage, but stick with it, and it will get to a lovely piping consistency – leave it to cool in the fridge for 30 minutes and it will become even stiffer.

Ice and decorate!

  1. Make sure the red velvet cakes are completely cool – I often put mine in the fridge in cling film for a few hours, especially when working with multiple layers, as they become stiffer and far easier to handle and ice.
  2. I used a plain round nozzle to pipe pearls of cream cheese frosting all over each layer of sponge, which gives a neat effect – when I’m in a hurry, a rustic knife spreading job is fine too!