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Decadent Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
This Decadent Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frostingis the best + perfect rendition of a true classic recipe! Not only is it completely soft + fluffy, but it’s utterly delicious and rich! Loaded with a tangy and slightly acidic flavor and a hint of chocolate and velvety-ness in each layer, and topped with a silky cream cheese frosting; this cake is a magical Fall/Winter combo! Absolutely irresistible and family-friendly, everyone will be fighting over the last slice! Vegan + Cupcake options.
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I've been meaning to make a classic red velvet cake on my site, but never got around to it. However, that changes NOW, because it's here-----the amazingly, delicious Decadent Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting! Of course, I had to keep things pretty traditional because this combo of cake + frosting is just one of those things that belong together.
In previous years when I used to sell baked goods that were homemade, a vegan red velvet cake was one of those items and it was such a fave! Honestly, cakes have been my newest favorite things to bake once I finally got over the fear of doing it. Sometime in July (I believe), when I did an entire "cake week", it was such an accomplishment for me because baking cakes were such a major fear of mine. Haha.
Thankfully, my confidence with baking them has become front stage and center and I spared no deliciousness with this particular cake. It's the perfect dessert for the Fall + Winter seasons in general or even during Thanksgiving. Trust me.
How to Make Decadent Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
This red velvet cake as I’ve mentioned before is super easy to whip together and doesn’t require anything special when it comes to ingredients except for the natural food coloring if that's a specialty for you. To start, you simply create the buttermilk by adding the milk + apple cider vinegar or lemon juice together and letting it sit for a few minutes. Then beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy and pale, add in the other wet ingredients, followed by the dry ingredients and mix until smooth.
Divide the batter into prepared cake pans, bake, and let cool completely. Make the frosting, assemble by frosting, decorate as you feel, and wallah. Slice and enjoy!
Ingredients for Decadent Red Velvet Cake
Here's what you need to make this Decadent Red Velvet Cake batter and topping:
All-purpose flour. I use organic flour from Bob's Red Mill. You can also sub with cake flour, if desired.
Baking powder + baking soda for leavening.
Cocoa Powder. The epitome of Rich chocolate flavor
Cane sugar. You can ensure that this is vegan-friendly by it being certified organic.
Sea salt. I love the play of salty and sweet here!
Eggs. These act as a binder. You need them to be at room temp.
Canola oil. This adds moisture to this cake. I always use organic for a healthier option, however, you can sub with coconut oil, olive oil, or melted butter.
Butter. I like to use unsalted. You can sub with vegan butter for vegan option. Always softened at room temp for the perfect whip!
Red Food Coloring – The color agent that adds the beautiful redness to Red Velvet. Vegan-friendly for that option.
Vanilla extract. This complements the flavors.
Cinnamon. This helps to amplify the rich chocolate flavor.
Buttermilk. You can use dairy-free or regular (if you're not restricted to a vegan diet)! This includes your fave plant-based milk + 1 teaspoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.
Cream cheese. Make sure your cream cheese is fully softened to room temperature for easy blending.
Powdered sugar. If you use granulated sugar, your glaze might have a gritty texture. Definitely recommend only powdered sugar!
4 Fun Facts About Red Velvet
Did you know that there were interesting facts about Red Velvet? Yup and of course I had to share my finding from Food and Wine:
Red Velvet Cakes dates back to as far as the 19th Century!
It wasn't originally accepted!
The "Red Color" idea came from a Guy who wanted to sell more food dyes.
A study shows that Red Velvet is a part of 4.3% of all items on menus in 2013. That's A LOT!
WHAT MAKES RED VELVET DIFFERENT FROM CHOCOLATE?
Although both Red Velvet + Chocolate Cake contain cocoa powder, there is a distinct difference. Unlike Chocolate Cake, Red Velvet contains a combination of vinegar and 'buttermilk', which is super important for the texture and taste. In addition, Red Velvet is a lot more rich and fine in taste as opposed to Chocolate.
WHAT FROSTING FLAVOR GOES WELL WITH RED VELVET?
As mentioned earlier in the post, Red Velvet often comes paired with a Cream Cheese Frosting. However, there are so many other pairings that work perfectly with Red Velvet, such as: Classic Vanilla, Bourbon Vanilla, Chai, White Chocolate, and Cookies + Cream.
However, I do occasionally use Super-Fine Cake Flour which adds a nice airiness and fluffiness to your cakes as well.
How to Make Decadent Red Velvet Cake with Cake Mix
Whether you choose to make the batter of this Red Velvet Cake from scratch or with cake mix, you won't be disappointed. Simply implement a few teaks and you'll enjoy this cake as if you made it entirely without a mix! If using your favorite box of regular red velvet cake mix, simply turn it into this Decadent Red Velvet Cake by purchasing TWO boxes and:
Instead of using vegetable oil, substitute with the canola oil or other subs as listed in this recipe.
Add a little baking powder to the mix (perhaps 1-teaspoon or so per box) and baking soda (about ½ teaspoon per box).
Use organic cane sugar instead of standard white sugar.
Add 1 cup of all-purpose flour (per box) to the cake mix to add more "body" to your cake.
Replace the water with both the buttermilk.
Be sure to add the vanilla and cinnamon as the recipe states.
Make the cream cheese frosting and add it to the layer + top of the cake per usual.
SHOP MY FAVORITE BAKEWARE ITEMS AND ACCESSORIES FOR THIS CAKE!
Here, I’ve curated a list of bakeware essentials that I use to achieve my favorite baking treats, especially with this Decadent Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. Everything from my fave cake pans, parchment paper, mixing bowls, hand-mixer, and more. SEE THEM HERE!
Why You’ll Love This Decadent Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
It's very easy to whip together and uses a handful of ingredients.
Has a great dairy-free and vegan options.
Ready in LESS THAN 1 hour and WORTH THE WAIT.
Warm and comforting chocolate richness + a bit of tangy flavor with every bite.
Perfect amount of layers with a delicious classic cream cheese frosting that adds a beautiful touch!
Makes for the perfect sweet treat for the entire family-----kids + adults alike.
Lover of Cake? These Are a Must Try!
Okay, I definitely have to stop for a moment to share a few other amazing cake flavors that you're sure to love! Here are some of my most loved CAKE recipes!
Can I Make This Red Velvet Cake Red Without Coloring?
Absolutely! Achieving the red color requires some form of 'dyeing' your batter. In this recipe, I chose to use a Vegan approved food coloring to make things easier, however, there are other great ways to achieve the same color without any extra chemicals:
Use beet puree (there are plenty of recipes on making your own beet puree to add in!)
When it comes to making a beet puree, you simply roast them and place them in a food processor like you would any other type of puree (sweet potato, pumpkin, etc.).
The awesome part is that by using pureed beets, you can come out with a naturally, perfect red color for any red velvet recipe that you chose!
Tips for Making The Best Cake Every Time
TIP #1: HAVE THE RIGHT TOOLS
To make and decorate this red velvet cake, you'll need a hand-mixer, spatulas (big + small), piping bags + tips, correct baking pans and parchment paper.
TIP #2: COMBINE BAKING POWDER + ACID
The essential ingredient combos for a light, silky cake texture is baking powder with baking soda and an acid (usually vinegar or buttermilk if the cake calls for it). When acid and baking powder/baking soda reacts, it creates bubbles and helps to create a nice rise for your baked goods, leaving an airy texture.
TIP #3: SIFT!
One of my favorite tricks to a perfect cake has been to ensure that ALL of my dry ingredients are sifted. It's an extra step, but the results are a light, fluffy, and fully combined cake batter.
TIP #4: AVOID OVER-MIXING
When mixing your cake batter, it’s so important to add the dry ingredients and wet ingredients alternately. Then, as soon as everything is combined very well, STOP! Over-mixing creates a more dense cake.
HOW LONG WILL THIS RED VELVET CAKE LAST FOR?
Keep cake leftovers stored for up to 4-5 days in the fridge. Keep it in an airtight container to keep the cake from drying out. You can also freeze the cake tightly wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 3 months. Before serving, defrost the cake on the counter.
WHY ARE THE INGREDIENTS AT ROOM TEMPERATURE?
When it comes to ingredients, especially in baking, it’s always best to have cold ingredients at room temperature to ensure that the mixing process is more seamless and even. Please note that microwaving your butter last minute if you forget to leave it out at room temperature isn’t recommended. Microwaving often changes the consistency of the butter which doesn’t create a nice ‘creaminess’ when mixed.
CAN THIS CAKE BE MADE AHEAD OR FROZEN FOR LONGER?
Absolutely! You can always bake this cake the night or day before and let it cool, tightly wrap, and refrigerate until ready to use. The frosting/buttercream can also be made prior and tightly wrapped and stored in the fridge as well. When ready to serve, let cake sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour, frost, and enjoy!
To store frozen (frosted or unfrosted), simply tightly wrap and cover cake and freeze for up to 2-3 months. To serve, thaw in the refrigerator overnight and bring to room temperature.
CAN THIS CAKE BE MADE INTO CUPCAKES?
Absolutely! You can always divide the batter into cupcake pans. The bake time will be a little less, therefore, keeping your eyes on them is super important---around 18 minutes. You can turn this cake into cupcakes by: using the frosting as a filling inside the cupcakes and top with the remaining the cream cheese frosting to get double the ‘indulging experience’. Once cupcakes are baked, simply create a hole in the centers, fill them with the frosting and frost them per usual.
Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease (with butter) AND line with parchment paper the bottoms of TWO 8-inch cake pans (for thicker layers) or THREE 6-inch cake pans.
In a bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the milk and apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice) and set aside for 5-10 minutes until everything "activates" to create the dairy-free "buttermilk". NOTE: If using regular cow's milk or heavy cream cream, you'll mix them together with apple cider vinegar or lemon juice again!
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt until combined.
In a bowl, add the butter and sugar, beating them together using a hand-mixer (on high-speed), until pale and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
Add the eggs (one at a time) followed by the vanilla, food coloring, and oil, mixing until combined. On low-speed, add in the dry ingredients followed by the 'buttermilk' and continue to mix until combined and the batter is smooth, about 3-4 minutes. NOTE: The batter should be thick, yet slowly run off the whisk once lifted.
Divide the batter evenly into each of the cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick or butter knife comes out clean when tested in the centers.
Remove cakes from the oven and let them rest in the pan for 10 minutes or so before removing the cakes and placing them onto a cooling rack to fully cool. NOTE: Let them cool for at least 1-2 hours in a cool place.
TO MAKE THE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:
Simply beat the softened butter and cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer (or using a hand-mixer) on medium-high speed, until smooth and pale. Add in the powdered sugar, vanilla, salt, and milk, continuing to mix on medium-speed until you reach the desired consistency----smooth and fluffy. NOTE: Add more milk (1 tablespoon at a time if too thick) or powdered sugar (for more thickness).
Place the first cake layer on your cake stand and evenly cover the top with cream cheese frosting. Now, top with 2nd layer and add more frosting atop that layer, spreading it over the tops and sides of cake, evenly and thinly. NOTE: If making a 3-layer, be sure to repeat step 1 of assembly once again before getting to the final layer.
Once fully frosted, add small little designs of the frosting using a piping bag + tip around the sides and top of cake. Chill for 5 minutes to ensure that frosting sets. Top with sliced strawberries or cranberries, if desired. NOTE: For a fancy moment or occasion, add florals or greenery atop cake for a Fall vibe!
When ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator. Slice and enjoy!
Tips & Tricks
STORAGE: Keep cake leftovers stored for up to 4-5 days in the fridge. Keep it in an airtight container to keep the cake from drying out. You can also freeze the cake tightly wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 3 months. Before serving, defrost the cake on the counter.
FLOUR: You can also use cake flour in place of all-purpose flour for a fluffier texture.
BUTTERMILK: For a dairy-free 'buttermilk', use 1 ½ cups Almond milk + 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. For a dairy option-----Add 1 ½ to 2 cups of organic heavy cream + 1 tablespoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar and let sit for 10 minutes, until it thickens.
VEGAN OPTION: To make this cake entirely dairy-free + vegan, simply omit the unsalted butter and eggs and use vegan butter instead and add 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar to plant-based milk instead of lemon juice. Also, feel free to use coconut oil as a substitute for canola oil, if desired. For the frosting, substitute the cream cheese with ½ cup of vegan butter and add 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar for a little "tangy" flavor.