Red velvet cake served on a cake stand

Red velvet cake

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(86 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. This chocolatey sponge is perfect for a celebration, or halve for smaller crowd

Nutrition and extra info

  • sponges only
  • Easily halved

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 or about ¼ tsp food colouring paste, (use a professional food colouring paste if you can, a natural liquid colouring will not work and may turn the sponge green)
    • 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 a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

    • 750g icing sugar
    • 350g tub full-fat soft 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. The cake mixture should be bright red, it will get a little darker as it cooks. If it’s not as vivid as you’d like, add a touch more colouring. 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 soft 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 soft 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

    Sign in or create your My Good Food account to join the discussion.
    21st Apr, 2018
    I have been making cakes since I was 12 with my mother (I'm now 52) and that is the first time I've made a totally iinedible cake. Even my son, who is a one person food pit isn't really keen on it. My wife ran to the bin when she tried it to spit it out. However, I'm glad I made it beacue it gave us all a good laugh. The beetroot taste is overwhelming and the cream won't set so it kind of slops off the side of the cake and forms an uruly pool on the plate.
    Cat84's picture
    3rd Jun, 2017
    I used 3 tsp baking powder, 300g beetroot and no water. Turned out lovely, could still taste the beetroot slightly but didn't overpower the cake.
    10th Sep, 2016
    I love these comments, they're quite entertaining. I've made this recipie several times now and there is very little wrong with it. I don't understand why people are being so negative about it. Perhaps it could do with being renamed as red velvet brownie, but that's about it. It works both as a cake and cupcakes, by the way. The cake is delicious and it's pretty simple to make, however I do agree with it being a little expensive. If all you do is make sponge cakes, this is going to be a surprise, but if you've ever made any other kind of cake then it's fine. I love this and I love the results. My family and colleagues agree.
    1st Jun, 2016
    It was a right faff on to register, however I did so just so I could comment on this god awful receipe. I've been baking for 35yrs so I think I know a good cake when I taste one. This cake is the absolute worse thing I've ever tasted. I agree it's dense and claggy, the frosting is rediculously runny and doesn't set, it's expensive to make and a total waste of money. For those of you that changed the quantities ingredients etc, YOU havnt made this cake, follow it to the letter then you will know just how bad it tastes, disgusting, I'm amazed the bbc allow it to remain on here, proceed with caution!!!!!
    11th Mar, 2016
    forgot to say, i found the beetroot taste comments very unexpected as we couldn't taste it at all... maybe because i used fresh beetroot that i boiled and grated myself. yum!!
    11th Mar, 2016
    I read the reviews whilst actually making this cake and thought... do i salvage this?? I noticed the comments about the overly dense sponge and excessive amount of water. so... i added 2 tsp of baking powder to try to lift it a little, and probably reduced the water by a third. I was concerned anyway about the use of plain flour, so took a risk changing the recipe. By the way, I also used milk chocolate to suit my daughter's palate. The result was beyond delicious! The sponges did crumble and crack a little when removed from the tin, so the presentation was a little more rustic than intended, but the cake was just so delicious. the cracking was nothing that the icing couldn't remedy and the sponge cut beautifully when chilled. i decided to refrigerate this cake as i also varied the icing recipe by adding double cream to the cream cheese and icing sugar. this made for a fluffier and less sweet icing than usual cream cheese frosting.
    6th Nov, 2015
    Followed this recipe and its awful sponges are way too heavy and claggy. The icing tastes and looks like thick custard. Need to find a new recipe as its meant to be a birthday cake...
    1st Nov, 2015
    I was really disappointed with this recipe! Was feeling adventurous and wanted to make a red velvet cake for my friends birthday as it is her favourite. I love the BBc Good Food website and get most of my recipes from here so I was really excited to try this one! I followed the ingredients as stated in the recipe and the suggested cooking time. When the cooking time was up the knife I used didn't come clean so I left it in the oven for about another 10 minutes before the knife was clean! I cooled my cakes and left on a wire rack etc. Even when the cakes were completely cooled I could actually scrunch the cake into solid balls! I get that Red Velvet is supposed to be moist but I'm guessing not this moist and dense! It has gone straight in the bin! Like I say very disappointed, lots of money and time wasted. Luckily I have a few ingredients in the cupboard so a good old fashioned sponge is in the oven for my friend! However if there is one thing this recipe has taught me ------ read the comments before experimenting!!
    31st Oct, 2015
    My comment was deleted. Maybe too in depth a critique. It's a very pricey cake for a very poor return in taste and texture. Find an alternative recipe.
    31st Oct, 2015
    Though this great is great if you intend to make a massive cake it fails on pretty much every other level. The beetroot is overpowering, definitely halve it the amount. The amount of chocolate is pricey and because of the beetroot is completely undetectable. It's also a very wet mixture (you do not need the water) so took forever to bake. Lastly, not remotely red. Absolutely gutted. Hopefully I can salvage it somewhat by not making the icing recipe stated here and pulling out some serious decorating skills. Avoid and go with the Hummingbird recipe.


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