Red velvet cake served on a cake stand

Red velvet cake

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(53 ratings)

Prep: 1 hr, 5 mins Cook: 1 hr Plus cooling

More effort

Serves 18 - 20

Bake a modern classic with this fabulous red velvet cake. With a light chocolatey flavour and bright red sponge, it’s both delicious and gorgeous to look at

Nutrition and extra info

  • Sponges only

Nutrition: per serving (20)

  • kcal656
  • fat31g
  • saturates11g
  • carbs86g
  • sugars66g
  • fibre1g
  • protein6g
  • salt1.5g
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    For the sponges

    • 300ml vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing
    • 500g plain flour
    • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
    • 4 tsp baking powder
      Baking powder

      Baking powder

      bay-king pow-dah

      Baking powder is a raising agent that is commonly used in cake-making. It is made from an alkali…

    • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
      Bicarbonate of soda

      Bicarbonate of soda

      Bicarbonate of soda, or baking soda, is an alkali which is used to raise soda breads and full-…

    • 560g light brown soft sugar
    • 1 tsp fine salt
    • 400ml buttermilk
      Buttermilk pancake mixture in bowl with whisk



      There are two types of buttermilk. Traditional buttermilk is a thin, cloudy, slightly tart but…

    • 4 tsp vanilla extract
    • 30ml red food colouring gel (we used Dr Oetker – a natural liquid colouring will not work)
    • 4 large eggs



      The ultimate convenience food, eggs are powerhouses of nutrition, packed with protein and a…

    For the icing

    • 250g pack slightly salted butter, at room temperature



      Butter is made when lactic-acid producing bacteria are added to cream and churned to make an…

    • 750g icing sugar
    • 350g tub full-fat cream cheese
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract


    1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease and line the base and sides of two 20cm cake tins with baking parchment – if your cake tins are quite shallow, line the sides to a depth of at least 5cm.

    2. Put 250g flour, 1 tbsp cocoa powder, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 280g light brown soft sugar and 1 tsp salt in a bowl and mix well. If there are any lumps in the sugar, squeeze these through your fingers to break them up.

    3. Mix 200ml buttermilk, 150ml oil, 2 tsp vanilla extract, 100ml water and 15ml food colouring in a jug. Add 2 eggs and whisk until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk until well combined. Pour the cake mixture evenly into the two tins, and bake for 25-30 mins, or until risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tins for 10 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack, peel off the baking parchment and leave to cool.

    4. Repeat steps 1 and 2, so that you have four sponge cakes in total. These sponges can be made up to three days ahead and will stay moist if wrapped in cling film, or you can wrap well and freeze for up to two months.

    5. To make the icing, put the butter in a large bowl and sieve in half the icing sugar. Roughly mash together with a spatula, then whizz with a hand mixer until smooth. Add the cream cheese and vanilla, sieve in the remaining icing sugar, mash together again, then blend once more with the hand mixer.

    6. To assemble the cake, stick one of your sponges to a cake stand or board with a little of the cream cheese icing. Use roughly half the icing to stack the remaining cakes on top, spreading a generous amount between each layer. Pile the remaining icing on top of the assembled cake, and use a palette knife to ease it over the edges, covering the entire surface of the cake. Tidy the plate with a piece of kitchen paper. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 2 days, but bring back to room temperature for an hour or so before eating.

      This recipe was refreshed in July 2018 based on user feedback. For the original recipe, see our beetroot cake.

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    Comments, questions and tips

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    17th Feb, 2012
    It's my mum's friend's bday so I thought I'd make her this cake. Not made it yet but I'm hoping it works because it's the first time I've used beetroot in any cooking, let alone cakes!! Sounds nom though!! :-)
    17th Feb, 2012
    I wasn't keen on this one. I too could taste the beetroot which spoilt it for me and it was definately too big!
    16th Feb, 2012
    This cake was a nightmare to serve, 4 tiers is too high to cut manageable and the slices are so tall, they could verge on the side of gluttony!
    16th Feb, 2012
    I was really looking forward to this cake after the great comments. The texture and frosting were good but the cake had a strong beetroot flavour which, for me, doesn't work in a cake (I like beetroot as a vegetable). It could be personal taste or the beetroot I used was particularly strong but I won't be trying this again. We had to throw the whole cake in the bin - I hate waste but nobody would eat it after a couple of mouthfuls.
    14th Feb, 2012
    My hubby said this was the best chocolate cake he's ever eaten (and he's eaten a few!) Very impressive special occasion cake that's not hard to do. The cream cheese icing set it off beautifully and the cake was soooo moist, maybe that's the beetroot? Will make again for sure.
    11th Feb, 2012
    I don't have the recipe but I have tried chocolate cake with courgette, yummy and moist.
    10th Feb, 2012
    Please help I have a freind who is allergic to beetroot but am desperate to make this cake and suitable alternatives?
    8th Feb, 2012
    Beautiful cake - and a real show-stopper. I made a super big cake adding on an extra third to the ingredients and 23" cake tins. It was mahoosive and very tasty - I added smarties and a hundreds and thousands letter for the birthday girl but I did use 3 packs of butter...phew! Beetroot and yoghurt gave the cake a really light sponge and I let people know it was one of their five a day...
    8th Feb, 2012
    This cake was amazing. I cooked everything in two batches. I cut the sponge with a thread. I will definetely make it again. Though it is very very filling- 2 packs of butter and 1kg of sugar for a whole cake!
    24th Jan, 2012
    Deliciously moist chocolate cake. I only used half the recipe quantity and made a 2 layer sponge, only having 2 a 20cm cake tins I found this was plenty big enough. Would definately make the chocolate cake again, maybe with a chocolate ganache filling/topping instead.


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