Red velvet cake recipe

The bold color of a red velvet cake is a delight to the eye and, with its rich cream cheese vanilla icing, it’s even more of a joy to eat.


  • 225g/8oz plain flour
  • 20g/¾oz cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 175ml/6fl oz buttermilk, at room temperature
  • ½ tsp red food coloring paste
  • 150g/5½oz unsalted butter, softened
  • 225g/8oz caster sugar
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the frosting

  • 300g/10½oz cream cheese
  • 75g/2¾oz unsalted butter softened
  • 3 tbsp clear honey or maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. Grease two 20cm/8in cake tins and line the bases with baking paper.
  2. Sift together the flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, and salt. In a jug, whisk together the buttermilk and food coloring.
  3. Cream the butter and caster sugar together in a stand mixer until really pale and light, this will take at least 2–3 minutes.
  4. Lightly beat the eggs and vanilla together. Gradually add the eggs to the creamed mixture, mixing well between each addition and scraping down the bowl from time to time with a rubber spatula.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl in batches, alternating with the red buttermilk, mixing until well combined. Divide between the prepared tins and bake for 20–25 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  6. Leave the cakes to cool in the tins for 2–3 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave until completely cold.
  7. To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Gradually add the honey or maple syrup to taste. Add the vanilla and mix until smooth.
  8. If the cake tops are domed, slice off the top of one, using a long serrated, to make it level. Crumble the off-cuts and set them aside.
  9. Place one cake layer on a serving plate and spread the top with 3 tablespoons of the frosting. Top with the second cake layer and lightly press together. Using a palette, cover the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Scatter the reserved cake crumbs around the top edge of the cake.