Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

14 Reviews
From: EatingWell Magazine, April/May 2006

This rich, chocolaty Southern favorite has its own culinary mythology: a couple at the Waldorf-Astoria, a shared slice of bright red chocolate cake, a request for the recipe, and the surprise of later finding a $100 charge on their room bill. Maybe all desserts this good deserve a legend.

Ingredients 12 servings

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Original recipe yields 12 servings
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  • Cake
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks (see Cake-Baking Tips)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature (see Cake-Baking Tips), separated
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ ounce red food coloring, (4 teaspoons), optional (see Ingredient note)
  • 1 cup nonfat buttermilk
  • Cream cheese frosting & garnish
  • 12 ounces soft light cream cheese
  • ¾ cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½-1 ounce chocolate, grated, for garnish (optional)


  • Active

  • Ready In

  1. To prepare cake: Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat two 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Beat sugar and butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until crumbly, about 2 minutes. Beat in egg yolks one at a time, then vanilla and food coloring (if using) until smooth.
  4. Beat in half the buttermilk on low speed until smooth, then half the flour mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat in the remaining buttermilk. Beat in the remaining flour mixture just until combined.
  5. Clean and dry beaters. Beat egg whites in a clean medium bowl at high speed until soft peaks form. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the whites into the batter until just incorporated, using long, even strokes. Divide the batter between the prepared pans, spreading to the edges. Gently rap the pans against the counter once or twice to settle the batter.
  6. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert the layers onto the rack, remove the pans and let cool to room temperature, about 45 minutes more.
  7. To prepare frosting & assemble cake: Beat cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and vanilla in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Place one cake layer top-side down on a serving plate; cover with half the frosting, spreading just to the edges. Set the second layer on top, top-side down. Spread the remaining frosting on the top only. Sprinkle with grated chocolate, if desired.
  • Make Ahead Tip: Wrap the cake layers in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 1 day. Assemble and frost when ready to serve.
  • Cake-Baking Tips: When using cake pans, they must be greased and floured to create a thin layer of protection against the oven's heat. For greater convenience, use a cooking spray that has flour in the mix, such as Pam for Baking, Baker's Joy or Crisco No-Stick Flour Spray.
  • Whole-wheat pastry flour has less gluten-forming potential than regular whole-wheat flour, making it a better choice for tender baked goods.
  • To properly measure flour when baking, use a spoon to lightly scoop flour from its container into a measuring cup. Once in the measuring cup, use a knife or other straight edge to level the flour with the top of the cup. If the measuring cup is dipped directly into the container—a common mistake—the flour will be packed into the cup and result in extra flour being added to the recipe, yielding tough, dense baked goods.
  • Room-temperature butter for a batter is one of the biggest culinary missteps. In fact, butter must be below 68°F to trap air molecules and build structure. Otherwise, the fat will be liquefied and the cake will be flat. To get “cool” butter: Cut refrigerated butter into chunks and let them sit in a bowl for 5 minutes before beating.
  • Eggs must be at room temperature for the proteins to unwind enough to support the cake's crumb. Either set the eggs out on the counter for 15 minutes or submerge them in their shells in a bowl of lukewarm (not hot) water for 5 minutes.
  • Although you cannot overbeat the eggs, sugar and butter, you can overbeat the flour. If you do, you'll develop the gluten and create a quick bread rather than a layer cake. Beat the flour just until there are no white grains of undissolved flour visible but not until the batter is smooth.
  • Ingredient Note: If you prefer not to use food dye, you can omit it completely: just add 4 more teaspoons of buttermilk to the batter (your cake will, however, be more brown than red). Natural food dyes, while less vibrant than conventional dyes, are chemical-, lactose- and gluten-free, but they vary widely in availability. Check for them at your local natural-foods store.

Nutrition information

  • Serving size: 1 slice
  • Per serving: 277 calories; 11 g fat(7 g sat); 2 g fiber; 39 g carbohydrates; 6 g protein; 36 mcg folate; 62 mg cholesterol; 25 g sugars; 380 IU vitamin A; 0 mg vitamin C; 75 mg calcium; 1 mg iron; 322 mg sodium; 154 mg potassium
  • Carbohydrate Servings:
  • Exchanges: 2½ other carbohydrates, 2 fat

Reviews 14

February 14, 2016
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By: EatingWell User
Disappointing and waste of good ingredients!!! Recipe resulted in 2 9 layers only 1 thick each! Not a finished result I can bring to our Hosts! Experiemced baker.95% of time I make cakes etc from 'scratch'! Only positive is the Valentine redness of the cake. Only way to make it look like a layer cake would be to cut in in half and add additional layer of frosting when frosting it to put it together. That is not a dessert I would be proud to bring to a Hostess. Pros: Only pro is : nice Red color for Valentine's Day but I cannot take this to host's home for dessert. Cons: Cake layer like a wide pancake! All ingredients used were fresh.,time and ingrediets wasted .
January 10, 2015
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By: EatingWell User
AWESOME MOIST CAKE! This cake is fabulous, will make again for sure. It's much lighter in calories than other red velvet cakes but tastes sooooo good you'd never guess!! Only thing I'd say is use half the cocoa because mine turned out too brown, more like chocolate. I baked it in one pan and cut it in half and it rose well, but it's better to bake it in 2 separate ones if you really want a tall cake. Also make sure to use enough food coloring! I haven't made the icing stated here because I have my own recipe but from my experience the icing recipe seems trustworthy too. Don't listen to the people who said it was awful, if you follow the recipe properly it'll work out fab! Pros: This cake was so super easy to make, very very moist, rose well and didn't sink, v tasty Cons: The color was a bit too brown
July 12, 2013
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By: EatingWell User
Healthy? Not by a long shot! Never use food dyes as they contain harsh chemicals such as red dye #40 in them. Do a search on the use of these food dyes and stop putting those chemicals in your body. Also, red coloring is full of natural flavors do you know what natural means? Insect parts from Beatles. Yep. No thanks I will pass on adding artificial and natural flavors to any recipe. My health means more to me than a vain colorant. Also the cream cheese has Carageenan in it. Something that is known to cause inflammation in the bowels. Cons: RED dye,
April 15, 2013
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By: EatingWell User
it was lovely ...the texture was great too
February 03, 2013
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By: EatingWell User
Subtle, simple, satisfying! I just used all-purpose flour (couldn't find wwpf anywhere) and lowfat buttermilk (couldn't find nonfat) and only .25 oz food coloring. Maybe these were necessary changes because I loved how the cake came out! Surprised that several people had such negative experiences, but my whole family really enjoyed the cake. Frosting was perfect - not too sweet. I decorated it with raspberries, definitely a great addition! I will definitely bookmark this one. Pros: Not too difficult to make, good flavor and texture Cons: Difficult to find whole wheat pastry flour
February 27, 2012
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By: EatingWell User
I made this Recipe almost exactly as written...a little less sugar( I use raw sugar) and only as much red food coloring as I had. It came out just lovely. After reading some of the reviews, I was a little apprehensive. Obviously those who wrote them made some kind of error in technique or ingredient. Not as accomplished and educated as they thought, I guess;) Thanks for posting
February 27, 2012
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By: EatingWell User
I made this recipe almost exact....a little less sugar and a little less food coloring. It came out just lovely. I was a bit apprehensive after reading the reviews, but obviously, those must have made some error in technique, or ingredient. Thanks for posting:)
October 02, 2011
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By: shawneegirl
Red Velvet Waste of Time and Resources. I am an accomplished and educated professional chef who is (now) feeding herself and her family healthy, but satisfying food. We love sweets. I came upon this recipe and read the reviews, but attempted this cake anyway. I shouldn't have. This whole effort was a COMPLETE waste of time, energy and resources for no ROI (return on investment). I even used the best cocoa (imo, Scharffen Berger) only to throw the cake layers in the trash after tasting them (I don't throw away ANYTHING, ever - but THIS was putrid!). The batter was incredibly thick and there was not much of it. I barely got it to cover the bottoms of my 9"pans. I hoped it would rise upon baking, but the layers only reached a height of a whopping 1/4" thick (hubby measured them). When hubby and I tasted the cake (without the frosting, btw), we just looked at each other in disgust. I wouldn't serve this to my enemy - it was that bad. It was pretty much tasteless with a sour note. I believe, imo, it is because there is a cup of buttermilk - NOT the whole wheat pastry flour (I use wwpf all the time with excellent, tasty, tender yet moist results with other cakes). Do yourself a favor: Skip making this recipe. Instead, I highly recommend the One Bowl Chocolate Cake on this site. It is easy, delicious, and keeps very well for a few days. In fact, the One Bowl CC only gets better the next day! The Red Velvet Cake is not worth the time, money, effort, or resources - it's
March 22, 2011
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By: irmaweightoff
A Decent Red Velvet adaptation Your entry for the fiber content is wrong. Please recalculate. It is one (1) gram per serving. Not two (2). Pros: You can eat without burdensome guilt Cons: Your nutritional facts are too often misculated
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