Perfect Red Velvet Cake Recipe

If you are like many people you have been searching for the perfect Red Velvet cake recipe for a long time. That perfect combination of beautiful, vibrant color, delicate cocoa flavor, and tangy cream cheese frosting is elusive but when you find it is amazing.

Red Velvet Cake with Chocolate Ganache Filling

Look no further.

History of Red Velvet Cake

No one really knows where Red Velvet cake got its start. James Beard and other food writers believe that in the past, when consumers used unprocessed cocoa, the reddish color occurred because of a natural reaction between the cocoa and buttermilk. Later, as cocoa changed, cooks added food coloring to get that same hue.

Another theory is that when food was rationed during the war cooks used coloring and beets to cover up the fact that they had to use minimal amounts of chocolate in their chocolate cakes.

Whatever is true, the fact is that by 1960 Red Velvet cake was featured in many cookbooks. When the cake was featured in the movie Steel Magnolias it became a national obsession, and from that point on it was recreated in many ways, shapes, and forms from cupcakes to cheesecake.

A Perfect Red Velvet Cake Recipe

This cake comes out moist, bright red, and flavorful. It isn’t hard to do at all. It is a luxurious three layer cake, and I fill mine with chocolate ganache but you can certainly use the luscious cream cheese frosting.

I suggest you take a plastic drinking straw and push it down in the center of the cake through all three layers. This will help the cake layers to stay in place and not slip. Also, have all ingredients at room temperature before beginning your cake. It will rise higher and be lighter.

Red Velvet Cake

  • 2 ¼ cups sifted cake flour, sift before measuring
  • 2 TBS. unsweetened cocoa powder (Green and Blacks Organic used in this recipe)
  • 1 ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • I cup full fat buttermilk
  • 2 full TBS. liquid red food coloring
  • 1 tsp. white vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (Tahitian vanilla preferred for this recipe)
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs

Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)
Ganache Filling (recipe follows)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Butter and flour three 8-inch-diameter cake pans or spray with baking spray.
  3. Sift the sifted (yes, you read that right) flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl.
  4. Whisk the buttermilk, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla in another bowl.
  5. With an electric mixer beat the sugar and room temperature butter in large bowl until light and fluffy.
  6. Add the eggs one at a time, beating 3 minutes after each addition.
  7. Blend in the dry ingredients in 3 parts. Alternate with buttermilk mixture.
  8. Divide the batter between the three prepared pans.
  9. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  10. Cool in pans about 5 minutes and turn out on a rack to cool completely.

Ganache Filling

This is a deep, rich, chocolate filling that can be made ahead of time. Bring to room temperature before filling your cooled cakes.

This can be made a couple of days ahead and refrigerated, tightly covered. Just remove from the refrigerator for about 20 minutes before using.

  • 12 oz bittersweet chocolate, chips or chopped
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 stick unsalted butter


  1. Heat the butter and cream just to the boiling point. Butter will be melted and cream will bubble around the edges.
  2. Remove from heat..
  3. Stir in the chocolate until melted and smooth
  4. Allow to come to room temperature. Refrigerate until thick and spreadable.
  5. Spread half between the first and second cake layer and half between the second and third cake layer.
  6. Push a straw through the center of the cake going down through all three layers to stabilize the cake.

Cream Cheese Frosting

This frosting is creamy and tangy and not too sweet. It can be made up to 3 days ahead and kept in the refrigerator. Just bring it to room temperature before using.

  • 2 – 8 oz packages of cream cheese, room temp
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, room temp
  • 2 cups of confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 TBS. vanilla (Tahitian is best)
  • 1 TBS. orange zest, may omit


  1. Beat the butter and cream cheese until well blended and fluffy.
  2. Add the confectioner’s sugar and continue to beat until smooth. You can add a little more or less depending on the texture you want. Don’t add too much or it will throw off the flavor.
  3. Beat in the vanilla and orange zest.
  4. Frost the tops and sides of the Red Velvet Cake.

Refrigerate the cake if you will not be serving it within a few hours or if it is a hot day. FOr best texture and flavor allow it to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

Serves 12.

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