I have made and tasted many versions of red velvet cake, but this one stands out as a favorite. I call it “heritage” red velvet because it has been passed down, passed around -and now I’m passing it on to you! This recipe uses butter instead of shortening or oil, and it is bright red as opposed to the usual dark red or brown-red. The soft, moist crumb is the result of a healthy dose of buttermilk in the batter…
… and that is key! You can’t make a good red velvet cake without buttermilk.
Before I get to the specifics of the cake, I’d like to share a recent feature. If you follow me on FB, then you have already seen this, so please forgive the repeat.
Sprinkle Bakes is featured in the February/ March issue of Yum Food and Fun magazine. Inside are two familiar SB recipes (plus lots more good lookin’ grub!) and a little write up about the blog.
This magazine can be found at grocery stores or at your local book store.
Back to business!
When making red velvet, I always mix the cocoa powder and liquid red food coloring together to form a paste. Doing this seems to evenly disperse the red color when it gets mixed into the batter. If your cocoa is lumpy, mash it into the food coloring with a fork.
For the heart template, trace the bottom of a cake pan on wax paper, cut out the 9″ circle. Fold it in half and cut into a heart shape. Lay the paper heart on the cake and trim it down if it doesn’t comfortably fit inside the cake’s circumference.
Red velvet cake is dense, so it carves easily with a serrated knife. I decided to give this cake a crumb coating (after seeing THIS), but you could certainly leave it frosted white if you wish. To make the crumb coating, crumble the cake scraps with your fingers. Discard any crusty, hard or discolored crumbs. You only want the best and softest crumbs for coating.
The best way I’ve found to apply the crumbs is to place the frosted cake on a serving platter lined with wax paper strips. Crumb the top of the cake first, then hold the cake – serving platter and all – over the sink and press the crumbs into the sides of the cake. This will be messy, but most of the excess crumbs will fall to the sides of the cake, and a few will fall in the sink. When you remove the wax paper strips most of the excess crumbs will stay on the paper and be removed also. From there you can do a little clean-up around the edges with a damp paper towel.
Heritage Red Velvet Cake
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups of sugar
- 1 cup butter softened
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 tbsp liquid red food coloring
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tbsp cider vinegar
Cream cheese frosting
- 16 oz. cream cheese softened
- 1 cup butter softened
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 4-5 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour 2 or 3 round 9″ cake pans.
- Sift flour and salt together, set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Mix until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Mix well after each addition. Add the flour mixture to the bowl alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Blend in vanilla.
- In a small bowl, mix the 1 1/2 tbsp red food coloring and 1 tbsp cocoa powder until a paste forms. Add to the sugar and butter mixture. Mix well. In a small bowl or condiment cup, stir together the baking soda and cider vinegar. This will foam and should be put into the batter immediately after well mixed. After adding the foam mixture, blend on medium-high speed until batter is consistent.
- Spoon batter evenly into pans – batter will be very thick! Level top of batter with an offset spatula. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until cake springs back when pressed in the center. Turn out on wire racks and cool completely.
Cream cheese frosting
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. With the mixer on low, gradually pour in the confectioners’ sugar. Increase the speed to high and beat until light and fluffy. If mixture is too thick, add a little milk to loosen it. If it is too thin, add additional powdered sugar or put in the refrigerator to firm up.
- *If carving cake and coating with crumbs, be sure to put the crumbs on when the icing is fresh and still sticky.
Yum, wish I saw this recipe before I made my friends birthday cake!
&& beautiful pictures
This is so pretty!
Oh yum! This looks amazing – and the cake crumb topping is beautiful!!
Absolutely amazing cake. I'm not a fan of red velvet, but this is a work of art. Gorgeous photos, too. Kudos!
Oh my heavens, Heather! You sure know how to up the ante on any recipe! What a gorgeous and vivid RED, and the crumb topping is amazing! Have a wonderful weekend, Sue
That looks so YUMMY! Need to try it 😀 Does the food coloring need to be liquid or can it be the gel coloring (Americolor)?
This is pretty !!!
Love the rich colour & the simple recipe !!!
Gorgeous!! And perfect timing for this upcoming holiday! I LOVE that it is bright red rather than the darker color!
Oh that looks yummy!! I am bookmarking the page as we speak for future reference. I'm a bit addicted to puddings right now, so this is going on the to do list 🙂
Angel Eden Blog
It is soooo pretty! A lovely Valentine's Day cake.
Heather, this is stunning! Beautiful job with this cake….simply gorgeous!
I've never seen a cake so lovely, and I worked in a bakery for five years! That crumb coating is not only a smart use of the discarded cake pieces, but adds a pleasing textural and visual element as well. It really pops the red color. Congrats on your spot in YF&F as well!
Cheers and happy Valentine's Day,
omg, such a cute and tasty and perfect cake! makes me drool 😀
I used to work at a bakery that had the best red velvet cake ever and this one reminds me of it. I may have to make this!
What a cute cake 🙂
This cake is gorgeous! I adore red velvet cake!
yummmmy and oh so pretty….if you ever get tired of tasting and need a taste tester…I'm your girl!!!! patti b.
I can`t stop looking at this! It`s absolutely divine and I want to try this…
Have a great time,
This is absolutely beautiful–so neat and tidy too. I actually have heart pans of my mom's from the 1960's so I might try this recipe (while hubby is watching superbowl) without the crumb coating.
Wow, that's a very cute cake!
I love your dessert presentation, hearts are my favorite thing! This rocks.
The crumb topping makes the cake look especially pretty. It's almost too gorgeous to cut into….
That has to be the most stunning red velvet cake I have ever laid eyes on! And congrats on your well deserved feature in the Yum Food & Fun Magazine. You are just raising the bar for everyone all over the place! xo ~Lili
WOW…this is an absolutely heavenly looking red velvet cake! i think i know what i want for my birthday cake this year 🙂
This is amazing! I love your tip about mixing the food coloring with the cocoa powder. I never would've thought to do that. Also, I've always wanted to make a cake with a crumb coating after seeing that same picture you linked to.
I just really love this! Can you tell?! 🙂
I just have to say that I LA LA LA LOVE your blog! Thanks for taking the time to share your talents with the world. You do a wonderful job!
that was a great idea to put the crumbs around the cake. lovely!
I LOVE this cake. I would have to use heart shaped pans, because there is no way I could cut my cakes and have them all end up the same size? Yours looks perfect.
Oh the red is amazing – I've never seen red velvet so vibrant! I have to try this, the colour has sucked me in. Beautiful photos 🙂
Congrats on being in the magazine–that's so exciting! And I agree with all the above comments, the bright red color is phenomenal!
gorgeous cake! I love that trick of mashing the cocoa powder with the food coloring!
ALso, congrats on the magazine, very very exciting :))
that cake is a stunner.
Love this cake, such a vibrant red! Congrats on the magazine feature and thanks for the tip about mixing the red food coloring and cocoa, I've never tried that before!
Can't wait to try this this weekend! Thanks for sharing! I'm going to share it on my FB fan page, Pirates-n-Princesses. You should check it out!!! 🙂
Can i substitute the Cider Vinegar with Apple Cider Vinegar?
This is adorable. I love red velvet cake.
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Drop dead gorgeous. I would love to give it a go but am so scared it won't come out looking as perfect as yours. Maybe I'll just gawk from a distance…
Beautiful cake. Absolutely love the idea of the crumble topping!
saw this on tastespotting. it is seriously awesome. thanks for sharing!
just lovely! what a great way to use the cake scraps too!
🙂 thanks for posting
So beautiful! Absolutely lovely. I hope your Valentine's Day is just as sweet.
Just finished Baking this! Turned out great 🙂
This cake is amazing Heather!!! That red is glowing and fabulous. I bet it tastes amazing too. Congrats on Yum magazine, I both kids and adult versions. I must purchase this copy with you in it 🙂 xo
when i saw this it looks exactly like the one on williams sonoma! I didn't think of carving the cake like you did it looks amazing
I just happened upon your blog thanks to a link from The Kitchn, and I love it! These desserts look amazing! Red Velvet is my favorite.
Beautiful!!!! Such a bright red!
Recently found your blog and I love how pretty this cake is. The red is really vibrant. I'm from Norway, so I never heard of red velvet cake until I moved to the UK, but this post really made me want to make some red velvety cupcakes! Thanks for the inspiration 🙂