Red velvet cake served on a cake stand

Red velvet cake

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(91 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


    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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    22nd Jan, 2013
    If you want to make a real red velvet cake google one with buttercream in the recipe. Best cake I ever made. Took 3 goes though as first two came out blue (honest) when using normal food colouring. You need red food colouring PASTE/GEL, it comes out really really red!
    13th Jan, 2013
    I'm not fussy but the picture for this is very deceiving. When I made mine it looked fine although a bit tall but it tasted absolutely awful. We followed this recipe exactly but with less beetroot yet the taste was so strong. I would not recommend making this cake at all as you will have to chuck it like me!!! A waste of 4 hours and my money.
    9th Jan, 2013
    So disappointing spent ages making it and when done it was far too stodgy,moist and the flavour from the beetroot was so overpowering. I'm left with an enormous cake which no one will eat! Do not make this cake.
    11th Nov, 2012
    Lovely cake.. I've made diff choc beetroot cakes before and sometimes I can taste the beet and sometimes not, so to be safe I used 50g less beetroot and 3 medium eggs. It got lots of thumbs up. Also I only had 23 cm tins and although they came out fairly thin by the time 4 were piled up it was pretty substantial!!
    23rd Oct, 2012
    Hi, Really wanted to make a red velvet cake and this is the only one showing after the search. I am thinking of using white chocolate instead and reduce the amount of beetroot. Any thoughts? Thanks!
    2nd Oct, 2012
    i loved this cake i found that the if you used a strong (high percentage) dark chocolate it covers the taste of the beetroot almost 100%
    25th Sep, 2012
    This tasted amazing, I was so pleased with it. Four layers is a bit much though, I only used three and it was still a monster cake. The beetroot also really needs to be put in a food processor- I tried putting it in chunks in the mixer and then mashing it with a potato masher which was quite messy. Also the sponges needed to be in the oven for about 10 minutes longer than stated. However, good cake and recipe. I will definitely be making it again!
    26th Mar, 2012
    I've not made this recipe yet, but have found two other recipes that do not use beetroot at all. Look on BBC Food under Red Velvet Cake
    22nd Mar, 2012
    I used half the amount of beetroot due to previuos comments and it was fine. Made it for a charity event and everyone loved it. Disappointed that is wasn't more red, hence the name! Should I leave out the cocoa powder next time?
    25th Feb, 2012
    horrible, stongy. sickley


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