Red velvet cake served on a cake stand

Red velvet cake

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(83 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

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    14th Jun, 2015
    Very disappointed ! As it has so much ingredients , it costs a LOT of money which ended up to be a waste anyway . It has way to much beetroot in it which makes it taste awful . There is also too much water and food colouring . I would never ever use this recipe again OR recommend this to anyone I like !!!! I ended up throwing the whole cake away .. Even the dogs rejected it !
    12th Jun, 2015
    I've made this cake twice and agree with the comment below, it didn't rise and come out far too much like a brownie. It also tastes too much of beetroot and doesn't taste sweet enough but then you're hit with it. I'm not on the hunt for another red velvet recipe as this one just sadly doesn't work even after the second attempt using half the water suggested.
    29th May, 2015
    A bit of a disaster I followed the recipe to the T and unfortunately it fell apart. The butter icing was too watery and the cake which was for an 18th is heading for the to buy one! My first cake disaster.
    15th Apr, 2015
    The best Red Velvet recipe i've come across is the Hummingbird one. works every time.
    10th Feb, 2015
    Don't make this! Red Online has the Hummingbird Bakery's recipe, which is fantastic. Luckily I made a quarter of the amount for testing purposes only. This still made eight cupcakes!! Though 7 and a half went in the bin. They were way too wet, even with a fraction of the hot water!! They tasted a little too much like bestroot but the weird thing is when you bite, they taste as though they don't have enough sugar then you swallow and wait and then wham, sweetness! They did have a nice red colour though but that's the best thing they had going for them. Please don't waste your time, money or effort!
    26th Oct, 2014
    Very disappointed with this recipe. Followed it to the letter but the cakes did not rise. It's expensive too. The sponge is also very dense. Not recommended
    27th Sep, 2014
    I've now made this cake twice and each time it's been an absolute winner, very moist and looks and tastes wonderful! :) I'd definitely give this cake 5 stars.
    11th Sep, 2014
    I made this with 2 thirds amount as it seemed to much ingredients bit it was still huge! Very tasty though.. Can't taste the beetroot... Not a vast amount in it really. Disappointed that its not red!! Put paste food colouring in but the chocolate colour overpower it. The icing is lush
    17th Aug, 2014
    Made this for the first time today, used half the ingredients as looked massive! Absolutely delicious! Everyone loved it! Couldnt taste the beetroot at all, just made the cake very moist! Will defo make this again!
    10th Mar, 2014
    I've made this a few times for Valentine's day, and for a couple birthdays as well. Always goes done fanastically. Probably one of the tastiest cakes ever. Very moist and delicious. A firm favourite!


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