Velvet Cake

  • Active Time 20m
  • Total Time 50m
  • Rating ****

Makes 12 servings

In the 1960s, red velvet cake was the rage in the Deep South. Since then, I've made the same cake in other intense hues, including a crimson red velvet heart for Valentine's Day, blue velvet for an Elvis theme party, emerald green velvet for my mother's St. Patrick's Day birthday, and a doll-shaped purple velvet cake covered in amethyst-tinted frosting for my sister's February birthday. Alternatives to the traditional cream cheese frosting include buttercream or powdered sugar frosting.


  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 bottles (1 ounce each) liquid food coloring, or food coloring paste
  • 1 cup buttermilk or sour cream (not fat free), at room temperature
  • Cream Cheese Frosting (see recipe)

Companion recipe: Cream Cheese Frosting


Position racks so that the cake layers will bake in the middle of an oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease and line two 9-inch round cake pans. Set aside.

Place the flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a strainer or sifter into a bowl. Repeat the process two more times. Whisk to mix well and set aside.

In the bowl of a strand mixer fitted with a flat beater, or in a bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until soft and creamy, about 45 seconds. With the mixer still running, slowly add the sugar, then stop the mixer and scrape the mixture that clings to the sides of the bowl into the center. Continue beating at medium speed until the mixture is very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Slowly drizzle in the eggs and beat well; stop at least once to scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla and liquid food coloring (if using) and mix on low until color is evenly distributed. If using coloring paste, add 1/4 cup water and blend well, then add enough of the paste, a little at a time, to create an intense color.

Using the mixer on low speed or a rubber spatula, fold in about one-third of the flour mixture, then half of the buttermilk or sour cream, scraping the sides of the bowl and folding just until the ingredients are incorporated. In the same manner, fold in half of the remaining flour mixture, then the remaining buttermilk or sour cream, and finally the remaining flour mixture.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and smooth the surfaces with a rubber spatula. Bake until each cake layer springs back when lightly touched in the center with your fingertip and a wooden skewer inserted into the center of each layer comes out clean, about 25 minutes.

Remove the pans to a wire rack to cool for 5 to 10 minutes, then turn the cake layers out onto the rack to cool completely.

Prepare the Cream Cheese Frosting as directed.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Chronicle. All rights reserved.

RecID 1776

nutrition information per serving

633 calories; 38g total fat; 140mg cholesterol; 431mg sodium; 70g carbohydrates; 1g fiber; 6g protein

These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.

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