If you’re looking for a show-stopping dessert this holiday season, check out my Red Velvet Layer Cake! Moist and tender two-layer cake packed with that perfect red velvet flavor we all love, then smothered in a luscious cream cheese frosting. Absolute perfection!
So guess what!?
After 26 years of having Thanksgiving at my grandma’s house… I am hosting Thanksgiving! Kinda. Well, technically yes but also no.
We’re still having Thanksgiving dinner at my grandma’s but not on Thanksgiving, due to a scheduling conflict. So basically, my parents and siblings and I were going to be Thanksgiving dinner-less on the actual day… until I stepped up to the plate and saved the day!
(Not really but… whatever).
So since my family and I are stranded (thanks, Grandma. JK, love you) I’m taking over and making us a mini-meal. I can’t wait!
Of course, now I am frantically planning what I’m going to serve. My top choices are: air-fried turkey breast, a classic stuffing, green bean casserole (obviously) and mashed potatoes. Although my sister would protest if I didn’t make macaroni and cheese. But mainly, my choices of desserts are up in the air. Pie’s a classic, but pumpkin’s out (we’re not a pumpkin household. I know!), but I’m thinking this Red Velvet Cake would make for an excellent dessert.
Normally in years past, I wasn’t a big red velvet person. Maybe because my only experience was with the red velvet cupcakes at the bakery I worked at. I just found them a little… meh. So when I developed this recipe I was kinda skeptical… would this cake flavor be bland too? But I was seriously mistaken with this one!
Each cake layer is supremely moist – almost stick-to-your-ribs moist, with a seriously fluffy and tender crumb that sticks to the fork and adds wonderful texture to the cake. The flavor of red velvet is kind of a cross between vanilla and chocolate – there’s just a hint of cocoa powder in the cake batter which gives it a little oomph without being a total chocolate cake. There’s a great balance of sweetness and acidity in the cake, thanks in part to the cocoa, but also the sour milk (buttermilk) in the batter which balances things perfectly.
Traditionally, red velvet cake has a boiled/cooked frosting instead of cream cheese, yet somehow down the line, cream cheese frosting became standard. For this purpose I’m using cream cheese because it’s easier to make, but you should definitely try the boiled frosting sometime with my recipe here!
Of course, you can decorate this beauty however you’d like… sprinkles, white chocolate curls, or cake crumbs would be beautiful… but I happen to think it’s gorgeous the way it is, with a flavor even more stunning!
*adapted from my recipe
Red Velvet Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- FOR THE CAKE:
- 1½ cups vegetable or canola oil
- 1 cup buttermilk or sour milk sour milk is scant 1 cup milk plus 2 Tbsp vinegar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 ounce (One bottle) red food coloring
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- FOR THE FROSTING:
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter softened
- 8 ounces (One 8-ounce package) cream cheese at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4-5 cups confectioners' sugar
- 1/4 cup milk or heavy cream if needed
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease two 9" round cake pans with cooking spray. Add in a parchment paper round and spray the pans again liberally. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all of the cake ingredients on low speed for about 30 seconds or until just combined. Scrape down the bowl and continue beating on medium-low speed for an additional 2 minutes or until completely smooth. Pour evenly among the cake pans and smooth out the top.
- Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted near the center comes out clean or with moist crumbs. Cool completely.
- For the frosting: In a clean bowl of your stand mixer, beat together the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla until creamy and smooth, 2 minutes. Gradually add in the confectioners' sugar, beating well after each addition, until frosting becomes light and fluffy, streaming in the milk/heavy cream if needed if frosting becomes too thick or pasty.
- To make the cake: Remove one of the cake layers from the pan and place on a cake stand or plate. Spread 1/3 of the frosting onto one of the cake layers, spreading out to the edges. Top with the remaining cake layer. Spread the frosting onto the cake. Decorate as desired. Store leftovers covered in the fridge.
Sumptuous, decadent red velvet cake… there’s not much better than that!
Have a super sweet day!
My mom has been making red velvet cake forever. I’m 62 years old now, and it was the cake I always requested for my birthday. She never made a cream cheese frosting. Ever. It’s not red velvet cake to me without her frosting. I’m giving you her recipe for frosting, in case you would like to try it.
1cup milk (any, I use skim)
3 Tablespoons flour
Dash of salt
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Whisk milk, salt, and flour in a pan, and cook over medium heat until it thickens. Let it cool. Meanwhile, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, (About 5-7 minutes). Add cooled flour mixture two tablespoons at a time, miding continuously, until all is incorporated. Add vanilla and mix just until combined.
Everyone loves this frosting/cake combo. If you try it, I hope you will, too.
Thanks for this recipe, Nancy! In my other red velvet cake recipe, I make a boiled frosting. I prefer it as well, but most people enjoy the cream cheese!
Is this with unsweetened cocoa powder?
boiled frosting? How to make it?
Marium Mahmood says
Can this recipe be used for cupcakes..also scant?
Hi Marium, yes, this could be made into cupcakes! I would fill about 2/3 of the muffin cups full and bake around 18 minutes.