Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Oh yes.  Moist red velvet cake with a hint of cocoa and topped with a smooth and sweet (but not too sweet) cream cheese frosting.  Just for you.

Well, that isn’t really true.  It was actually just for Chris.  As I mentioned, his birthday was this past weekend (on St. Patrick’s day!).   This was his birthday cake.  I joked that I should have made a Green Velvet cake…maybe next year? 

Chris isn’t really a sweets person. 

Besides pie.  That man would eat pie all day.

Ice cream?  He could take or leave.  Most cakes and cookies are in the same boat.  But occasionally there is a sweet treat that he really just loves.  Red Velvet cake is one of those treats!

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Just combine some sugar…

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with some vegetable oil your stand mixer (or with an electric mixer).

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Mix together until it resembles very wet sand.

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Then add in a couple of eggs and mix until well combined.

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Stir together some cocoa powder, red food coloring and a little water.

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Add that, plus some flour, salt, vanilla and buttermilk and mix it all really well.

Combine a little baking soda and vinegar and fold that into your batter. 

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Pour your batter into two prepared cake pans, and bake for 30 minutes.

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Cool your cakes completely before moving on to making the best cream cheese frosting. 

Let me pause for a minute to talk about this frosting.  I don’t know about you, but I really prefer a frosting to not be overly sweet.  I don’t want my teeth to hurt after eating a piece of cake! 

This frosting is more cream cheesy than sugary, and it is perfect on this cake, and would be great to use on carrot cake or a pumpkin roll as well. 

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Combine two packages of cream cheese and a stick of butter with a little vanilla and some powdered sugar, and mix until it is light and fluffy.  

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So easy and so delicious!

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No, I’m not left handed.

And, no, matching fingernails are not required to make this cake.

After your cakes are completely cooled, you want to cut off the rounded tops.  This is important for two reasons: 1) You want the tops to be flat so your cake is stable and pretty and 2) you need to get some crumbs for the decoration!  (Potential third reason-you might need a snack, but do try to save enough cake to make the crumbs)

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You’ll want to take your cake stand and some strips of parchment paper or wax paper and line the outside like so:

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Place your bottom cake right on top of the parchment strips. 

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The strips will help to keep your cake stand or plate clean while frosting and decorating. 

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Plop a good amount of your frosting in the center of the cake.  Use an offset spatula to guide the frosting to the outer edges of the cake.  Don’t be afraid to use a lot of frosting for this step.  I actually didn’t use enough and had a lot leftover for the outside of the cake.  I would say to use about 1/3 of your frosting for the middle.

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Once the middle is frosted, place the other layer of your cake on top.  Put the cut side to the middle, so the top of your cake will be nice and smooth.  Plop another good amount of frosting on top of the cake, and again, use an offset spatula to smooth and guide the frosting towards the edges of the cake.  Let the excess sort of “fall” down the sides.   Smooth the sides, and add more of the remaining frosting as needed.  You want to make sure the top stays clean, but the sides are less important.  You just want a nice even coating. 

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Crumble your remaining cake (that you cut off the top) into crumbs.  Work around the cake and press the crumbs onto the sides. 

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After all the sides have been coated, carefully remove the parchment from underneath the cake.  Your stand should have remained relatively clean of frosting and crumbs.   

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Red Velvet Cake

Makes 12-16 servings

adapted from this recipe


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp red food coloring
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup lowfat buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Butter and flour 2 8in or 9 in cake pans.
  3. Using a stand mixer (or electric mixer), combine the sugar and vegetable oil until the mixture resembles very wet sand.
  4. Add eggs and mix until combined.
  5. In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder, red food coloring and water.  Stir well until lumps are gone.
  6. Add cocoa mixture to the sugar mixture and mix until combined.
  7. In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk, vanilla and salt. 
  8. Alternate adding the flour and the buttermilk mixture to the wet ingredients in the stand mixer. 
  9. Once the last of the ingredients are added, set mixer on medium speed and mix for 1 full minute.
  10. Combine the baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl.  Fold this into the batter until just combined.  Immediately divide batter between your two prepared caked pans.
  11. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cake. 
  12. Cool cakes completely before frosting.

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Cream Cheese Frosting

slightly adapted from this recipe


  • 2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Combine cream cheese and butter in a stand mixer (or with an electric mixer).
  2. Add vanilla and powdered sugar.  Beat until frosting is light and fluffy.
  3. Use on your favorite cakes.

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This was the best red velvet cake.  So good, in fact, that Chris ate a leftover slice for breakfast the next day.  Life is short, eat dessert…for breakfast?

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Filed under Baking, Dessert

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